Evacuations From Besieged Syrian Towns End After Two-Day Halt

Evacuations From Besieged Syrian Towns End After Two-Day Halt

The evacuation of Syrian civilians and fighters from four besieged towns was completed on Friday (April 21) after a 48-hour halt, as part of a mediated swap deal between the warring sides, state media and a rebel official said.

Newly released prisoners, who were held by the Syrian government, arrived in a bus convoy at insurgent-held al-Rashideen, Aleppo province, Syria.

Meanwhile thousands of civilians and pro-government fighters from the Shia towns of al-Foua and Kefraya arrived in army-held Aleppo, a war monitor said.

Rebels reached an agreement on Friday (April 21) with the government for it to release the first 500 prisoners who would cross into opposition areas as part of the wider deal, a rebel official told Reuters. The other 250 prisoners would be released in coming days, he said.

Several evacuations have taken place over the past month with the government striking a series of deals with rebels where the insurgents are able to leave with light weapons for rebel-held parts of northern Syria along with family members and other civilians who choose to depart.

The agreement of such deals underlines how Assad has gained the upper hand in the war, as more and more fighters opt to quit areas they have defended for years in deals that amount to negotiated withdrawals to other parts of the country.