1ST BATCH OF REBELS, FAMILIES EVACUATE HARASTA IN SYRIA’S EASTERN GHOUTA
The first batch of Syrian rebels and their families evacuated the city of Harasta in Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta countryside on Thursday, as part of a deal that allows the exit of 1,500 rebels and 6,000 family members.
Thirty buses carrying the first batch of 1,580 people, including 413 rebels, left Harasta for the rebel-held areas in Idlib province, a Xinhua reporter at the scene witnessed.
The second batch of rebels and their families will leave in the next two days.
A total of 7,500 people, including 1,500 rebels and 6,000 civilians, will evacuate Harasta, according to the Russian-sponsored agreement reached between the Ahrar al-Sham rebels and the Syrian government.
At the first stage of the evacuation, 13 Syrian soldiers, who were kidnapped by the rebels in Harasta, were released on Thursday.
The hostages were the first to leave Harasta before the evacuation of the rebels and their families from that area in Eastern Ghouta.
Earlier on Thursday, the Syrian army removed barriers at the entrance of Harasta to facilitate the evacuation of the rebels and their families.
The evacuation, based on the agreement, was scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), but was delayed for several hours.
The civilians who do not want to leave with the rebels will remain in Harasta, a key bastion of the Ahrar al-Sham group and another rebel group known as the Fajr al-Ummah, or the Dawn of the Nation.
The evacuation of the rebels from Harasta marks the first major withdrawal of rebels from Eastern Ghouta after thousands of civilians had fled the sprawling countryside in recent days.
Source: NAM News Networkhttps://syrianewsgazette.com/1st-batch-of-rebels-families-evacuate-harasta-in-syrias-eastern-ghouta/General