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Rebels, civilians prepare to evacuate Syrian town of Daraya under deal

Children sit on a pick-up truck loaded with belongings along a damaged street in Manbij, Aleppo Governorate. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Daraiya, Rif-Dimashq Governorate, Syria Aug 26, 2016, 09.21 AM (IST)
Thousands of rebels and civilians prepared to evacuate the Syrian town of Daraya today ahead of its takeover by government forces.  Ambulances and Red Crescent vehicles reached the town to aid evacuation.

Ending one of the longest standoffs in the five-year conflict, rebels and Syria's army agreed a deal on Thursday to evacuate all residents and insurgents. The town, situated near the capital Damascus and the government's Mazzeh air base, has been under rebel control since 2012.

Meanwhile, the agreement to evacuate residents is being seen as a defeat for the opposition forces.

Evacuation could take up to four days 

"Seven hundred armed men with their personal weapons will leave Daraya to head to the (rebel-controlled) city of Idlib, while thousands of men and women with their families will be taken to reception centres," Syrian State News Agency SANA reported.

Around 8,000 people have been living in the town, despite a four-year-long government siege and frequent bombardments.

The rebels, belonging to Ajnad al-Sham and the Martyrs of Islam, will have to surrender their armaments to the army.
 
According to the United Nations, nearly 600,000 live under siege across Syria, owing to government forces, rebels and Islamists.

The entire evacuation could take up to four days.

"The civilians will go to regions under regime control around Damascus, rebels will go to Idlib "or sort out their situation with the regime", a rebel official told AFP news agency. 

Only one humanitarian food aid convoy has entered Daraya since government forces began their siege of the town in late 2012.

A UN aid convoy carrying medicine but no food had entered earlier.

According to the United Nations, nearly 600,000 live under siege across Syria, owing to government forces, rebels and Islamists.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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