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Syria: evacuation of civilians and rebels in Daraya continues

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Syria: evacuation of civilians and rebels in Daraya continues

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Syrian civilians and opposition fighters have continued to evacuate Daraya for a second day.

It follows Thursday’s deal, in which rebels agreed to pull out of the besieged Damascus suburb in exchange for safe passage.

Despite being surrounded by government forces since 2012 with next to no aid getting in, several thousand people remained inside.

“The numbers are known, they are about 4,000 to 5,000 civilians and some 1,000 armed personnel, but we do not have an accurate number. It’s only known by the armed groups inside Daraya. But every day we see a number of armed persons leave, as well as citizens who we think were taken hostage by the terrorists (referring to rebels),” one government field commander said.

Earlier several buses reported to be carrying rebel fighters and their families arrived in the opposition held northern Syrian city of Idlib.

Although the deal sees control of Daraya handed over to government forces, some rebels denied the evacuation was a surrender.

“These images may seem like they represent failure and defeat to some, but the truth is, this is a form of perseverance, this shows the weakness of the regime and its allies. World powers were not able to occupy one town. If the regime had been able to, it would not have allowed these people to leave. It would have killed them all, but because of its weakness it allowed them to leave with their weapons in tow,” said Husam Salameh, a Field Commander with the Ahrar al Sham rebel group.

It is believed rebels eventually agreed to evacuate Daraya due to the deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Since 2012, the UN estimates only one aid shipment reached the Damascus suburb.

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