Hundreds evacuated from besieged Syrian towns
Hundreds of wounded fighters and civilians in need of medical care were evacuated with their families from besieged Syrian towns on Wednesday as part of a UN-brokered deal between the regime and Syrian rebels.
The agreement will see at least 250 Syrians evacuated out of Damascus suburb towns Zabadani and Madaya besieged by regime forces and their allies.
A further 250 people will escorted out of the rebel-held villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in the Idlib province.
"We are evacuating injured or sick people from the four besieged towns," a UN source confirmed.
The UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent team entered rebel-held villages north of Idlib city to start the evacuation.
"Around 43 injured or sick Syrians were escorted out of the rebel-held towns in Idlib with around 200 family members and companions," activist Mustafa Abu Mohammad told The New Arab.
"They will be heading to government-held areas in Damascus and Latakia," said Abu Mohammad.
"Simultaneously, 40 Syrians suffering of medical conditions were evacuated out of the besieged towns of Madaya and Zabadani, along with around 200 family members and companions.
"They will be leaving for rebel-held areas within the Idlib province as part of the deal," he added.
At least 10 of those evacuated from the government blockaded towns are in urgent need of medical attention.
The deal was a desperately needed one, said Jan Egeland, who heads a UN-backed humanitarian taskforce in Syria, after a four-day-old baby girl died in Madaya last week due to malnutrition and a lack of available medical care.
Three boys had also bled to death in the town after pro-government forces laying siege to Madaya ignored desperate pleas for their evacuation after they had touched an undetonated explosive that exploded.
A report earlier this year found that more than one million Syrians were trapped in besieged areas, challenging figures previously estimated by the UN.