Cairo gets 7 Egyptians out of Syria-controlled shelters

Cairo, EgyptUpdated: May 27, 2018, 06:26 AM IST
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File photo. Photograph:(AFP)

The Egyptian foreign ministry said on Saturday its embassy in Syria had been able to get seven Egyptians out of shelters in areas now controlled by the Syrian government.

The embassy had cooperated with the Syrian authorities to secure their release from camps where thousands of civilians fleeing the Eastern Ghouta Damascus suburb were now staying.

One citizen was able to leave one of the shelters on Saturday, while another Egyptian, his mother, his sister, and his Syrian wife and children were able to leave another shelter the same day.

The ministry said preparations were underway to fly them home.

The embassy was able to rescue another Egyptian family "from the area of military operations in Ghouta a few weeks ago," the ministry said.

Syria's regime lost swathes of territory to rebels early in the uprising but has since made a comeback and recaptured large parts of the country.

It used military pressure and population transfers to flush fighters and civilians out of territory around Damascus, most notably the Eastern Ghouta suburb.

The assault on Eastern Ghouta has a sparked a mass exodus from the shrinking rebel enclave, with 50,000 people reaching shelters in regime-controlled areas in the past week, according to the United Nations.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria in March condemned the "tragic" living conditions of the displaced massed in the makeshift shelters.

Prior to the assault, Ghouta's 400,000 residents had suffered five years of crippling regime siege that made food and medicine nearly impossible to access or afford. 

Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against the government but has since evolved into a civil war that has killed more than 350,000 people and triggered a staggering humanitarian crisis.