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Second Stage Of Syrian Evacuations Reportedly Starts From Ghouta


Syrian regime forces stand near buses while rebel fighters pray as they wait at the entrance of Harasta in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, on March 22.

Syria's state-run media is reporting that hundreds of rebel fighters and their relatives began leaving eastern Ghouta on buses late on March 24 and were heading for opposition-held areas in the north of the country under an agreement to evacuate the second of three surrounded opposition-held areas east of Damascus.

Earlier on March 24, Syria's state media reported that about 7,000 members of the rebel group and their relatives were preparing for the evacuation under a deal reached a day earlier between Faylaq al-Rahman, the second-most powerful rebel group in eastern Ghouta, and Russia's military.

Bulldozers on March 24 also removed giant sand barriers from a main road in the town of Harasta that the evacuation buses are meant to pass through on their way to northern Syria.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said the corridor was being prepared for Faylaq al-Rahman members and their relatives to leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbin, Ein Tarma, and Jobar.

The reported evacuations come after thousands left Harasta, the first opposition-held pocket of territory to be evacuated, under a similar deal for armed opposition fighters and civilians.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP