Header Ads

BESIEGED SYRIA REBELS EVACUATED IN RARE DEAL

Dozens of wounded rebel fighters, along with members of their families, are being evacuated from a Syrian border town that is besieged by government forces.

 The evacuation was agreed as part of a deal that will, in exchange, see the safe passage of scores of civilians from two villages that are surrounded by rebels in northern Syria. Some 126 people – including 70 rebel fighters – who have been under siege in the town of Zabadani, which is in Syria’s south near the Lebanese border, will arrive in Beirut airport on Monday.

They will then fly to Turkey under the supervision of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from where they will be transferred to Syria’s largely rebel-held Idlib province. The rebel contingent and their families will travel to Beirut via the Lebanese border crossing al-Masnaa in convoys of buses. Ambulances also entered Zabadani on Monday to transport the seriously wounded.

Sources in Zabadani told Al Jazeera that at least 12 ICRC and UN vehicles had arrived in the town by 8am local time (0500GMT) to take the rebels out. Opposition-held Zabadani has been subjected to a relentless bombardment for months by government troops, backed by the Shia Lebanese group Hezbollah, in an attempt to take it from the rebels.

The evacuations, an effective swap, come after a negotiated ceasefire deal involving Turkey and the armed group Ahrar al-Sham on one side, and Iran and the Syrian government on the other.