Government forces capture Syria's Daraya town

Government forces capture Syria's Daraya town
3 min read
28 August, 2016
Regime forces captured the Syrian Daraya town on Saturday, after hundreds of rebels and families were evacuated.
Government forces captured the town after evacuating the remaining rebels [Getty]
Syrian government forces pierced through the town of Daraya near the capital on Saturday after rebels and civilians were evacuated following a four-year siege by regime forces.

"The Syrian army completely controls Daraya and has entered all of the town. There isn't a single armed man there," the source told AFP of the insurgents, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Hundreds of rebels and their families had evacuated the town earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The Daraya file is now closed after the evacuation of all the civilians, armed men and their families under the agreement" reached on Thursday between the regime and rebels, Syrian state television said.

Army vehicles were seen combing through the streets of the town  one of the first to host anti-regime protests five years ago.

"The second and final convoy of rebels and civilians came out of Daraya today," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory monitoring group.

 

The total number of evacuees was not immediately clear, however Syria's official SANA news agency claimed 4,000 civilians were to be evacuated and directed to reception centres, while at least 700 rebels were escorted to the rebel-held city of Idlib in northwest Syrian.

The first group of rebels and their families evacuated from the Syrian town of Daraya reached opposition-held territory, a monitor said on Saturday.

At least five buses carrying fighters and their families arrived in the rebel-held city of Idlib in Syria's northwest, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The arrivals were the first since the evacuation of the town just outside Damascus began on Friday under an agreement between the government and the rebels.

Daraya had been ravaged by constant bombardment by the army and the four years of siege that saw just a single aid convoy reach the town since late 2012 with no food onboard.

The rebels said they were forced to agree to evacuate the town because of deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

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In recent months, government forces have made a number of advances outside the capital.

Long sieges have prompted the rebels to abandon several areas following Damascus use of "starve or surrender" tactics.

Rebel fighters pulled out of Syria's third city Homs last year under a similar evacuation deal.

More than 290,000 people have been killed and over half the population displaced since the conflict erupted in 2011.