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Six towns west of Damascus free of rebels under evacuation deal
BY 2017-04-20 09:08:42

DAMASCUS, April 19 (Xinhua) -- A total of six towns west of capital Damascus have become free of rebels, following a large-scale evacuation deal that was concluded on Wednesday, a military source told Xinhua.

The towns of Madaya, Zabadani and nearby Buqain, Serghaya, Bludan, and Eastern Mountain, in the western countryside of Damascus, are now free of any rebel presence, with last busses evacuating rebels and their families left the towns on Wednesday, the source told Xinhua.

The evacuated areas are estimated at 50 km in the western rim of Damascus, as 11 busses carrying around 500 rebels and their families left the towns toward the northwestern province of Idlib early on Wednesday.

Wednesday marked the second batch of evacuees from the western Damascus towns, and also the Shiite people and fighters from the towns of Kafraya and Foa in the Idlib province.

The evacuation deal was reached between Iran, on the side of the government, and Qatar and Turkey, on behalf of the opposition.

The deal started last Wednesday with a prisoner swap, and on Friday, busses carrying 5,000 Shiite people from the pro-government towns of Kafraya and Foa left the towns and headed toward a transit point in the rebel-held town of Rashideen in Aleppo province and around 2,350 rebels and their families left the town of Madaya toward a transit point in the government-controlled Ramouseh area south of Aleppo city.

Both convoys were supposed to head later to their respective destinations, the rebels to Idlib, and the Shiite people to Aleppo city.

About 24 hours passed, with the rebels in Rashideen held the busses of the Kafraya and Foa evacuees, adding new demands to the deal, before a suicide bomber detonated his car at the gathering point of the busses, killing 126 children and wounding and killing over 400 others, according to a statement on Tuesday obtained by Xinhua.

After the bombing in Idlib, mainly those with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, released the busses, which reached Aleppo as the rebels busses in Ramouseh were also released and reached Idlib.

The second batch left Wednesday, with 3,000 people from Kafraya and Foa left, and 500 rebels and families evacuated the towns west of Damascus.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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