Syria'a rebel enclave Zabadani prepares for mass evacuation

Syria'a rebel enclave Zabadani prepares for mass evacuation
3 min read
28 September, 2015
Wounded rebel fighters were evacuated to Lebanon on Sunday from besieged Syrian town of Zabadani, a monitoring group said Monday in a sign that a local ceasefire is being implemented.
Zabadani has been heavily bombed throughout the war [Anadolu]

Rebel-held enclave Zabadani is readying for an evacuation of residents and fighters after striking a six month truce deal with the Syrian regime, brokered by Iran.

On Monday, the first mass displacement of Zabadani's rebel-held neighbourhoods should go under way, after months of broken ceasefires, a crippling siege and heavy bombing.

Two severely wounded rebel fighters were rushed out of a flashpoint rebel bastion in Syria to Lebanon on Sunday as part of the truce, a monitor said.

"The United Nations transferred two Ahrar al-Sham fighters in critical condition from Zabadani to Lebanon," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Warring parties in Syria agreed Thursday to the six-month truce in Zabadani, the last rebel stronghold along Syria's border with Lebanon, as well as the Shia villages of Fuaa and Kafraya in the northwestern province of Idlib. 

The ceasefire is to include the evacuation of civilians and rebel fighters out of Zabadani in exchange for the safe passage of civilians from Fuaa and Kafraya.

But there were delays when protesters in rebel-held territory in Idlib province blocked roads, preventing the planned evacuation by the Red Crescent from getting under way. 

A member of Zabadani's local council told AFP the "two wounded people were evacuated as an exception because of their critical condition". 

He said they were being taken to Beirut. 

According to Abdel Rahman, the full evacuations are expected to begin on Monday. 

In another rebel enclave, in Homs city, the death toll from Sunday's regime missile attack rose to 24.

Opposition newspapers said the missile struck a public park in the al-Waer district of Homs during Eid celebrations and that most of the killed were children.

Al-Waer is the only part of Homs city still under rebel control.

Israel strikes Syrian army posts

The Israeli military said on Sunday that it fired on two Syrian army posts with artillery fire after rockets hit the occupied Golan Heights.
The military said the two rockets launched over the past two days were stray fire from the Syrian conflict and caused no damage or injuries.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said in a statement Israel held the Syrian military "responsible and accountable for any aggression emanating from Syria."

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a Syrian army position in the Quneitra region of the Golan Heights was hit at least four times by the Israeli military. Activists have reported intense fighting between Syrian troops and insurgents in the Quneitra area in recent days.

Israel has mostly stayed on the sidelines throughout the Syrian war. However, its military has returned fire when rockets or mortar shells have strayed into Israeli-controlled territory. Israel has also carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected weapons shipments destined for its enemies.