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Syrian forced evacuations resume following Rashideen massacre Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syrian forced evacuations resume following Rashideen massacre

Residents from Fuaa and Kafraya are rebel areas are being evacuated from their homes [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2017

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Hundreds of civilians left their homes in Syrian towns on Wednesday, as part of a series of deals between the regime and rebels to abandon besieged enclaves.

Forced evacuations of five besieged Syrian towns resumed on Wednesday, after Saturday's bomb massacre at a transit point outside Aleppo, killing over a 120 people led to a suspension of the deal.

A convoy of buses arrived to escort residents from two regime-held towns Fuaa and Kafraya early Wednesay, as residents reached the West Aleppo suburbs of Rashidin where Saturday's massacres took place, AFP reported.

Hundreds also left three beseiged rebel towns, part of an agreement between the regime and rebels to evacuate enclaves in rival territories.

"The process has resumed with 3,000 people leaving Fuaa and Kafraya at dawn and nearly 300 leaving Zabadani and two other rebel-held areas," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.

With tensions high following Saturday's killings - which included 70 children - security was tight. Dozens of rebel fighters stood guard at the evacuation zone while vehicles were thoroughly searched to prevent another massacre.

The so-called evacuation deal was brokered by Qatar, which is backing opposition groups, and key regime ally Iran.

More than 8,000 people should have left Fuaa and Kafraya when Wednesday's transfers are completed, while 2,500 people should have left the rebel enclaves including Zabadani and Madaya.

Stage two of the deal will start two months' time which should see Fuaa and Kafraya entirely emptied and most civilians and rebel fighters will leave the two rebel-held towns.

More than 30,000 people will be involved in the "evacuation deals", which have been criticised by some observers as acts of forced displacement and ethnic cleansing.

The beseiged rebel towns have witnessed outbreaks of starvation and hunger related disease, with the regime blocking the entry of emergency aid.

Fuaa and Kafraya have also witnessed huge suffering, with regime planes dropping supplies by air on the territories.

More than 500,000 people have died in Syria's war, the vast majority civilians after the regime violently put down a series of anti-government protests.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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