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Moadamiyeh: Hundreds leave besieged Syrian suburb after deal

Watch now: Moadamiyeh has been under regime siege for three years [Anadolu/AFP]

Date of publication: 2 September, 2016

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Video: Hundreds of Syrians living in a besieged rebel-held suburb of the capital, Damascus, have begun evacuating the area following a deal struck with the government

More than 300 Syrians living in the besieged rebel-held Moadamiyeh were evacuated on Friday, following a government deal that grants amnesty to rebels within the suburb town.

Civilians – many of whom lived in Daraya before moving to Moadamiyeh three years ago - began leaving the town after the recent rebel-government agreement which saw similar evacuations in surrounding areas.

Security forces were seen searching through luggage of hundreds of men, women, and children before boarding buses designed to transport civilians to shelters in a government-controlled neighbourhood nearby.

State media said 303 residents of Daraya, including 162 children, 79 women and 62 men, were leaving Moadimayeh and would be taken to Hrajeleh, a regime-held district, for processing.

"I've been taking refuge here for three years and I hope that life in the reception centre will be better than here," said Roueida, a mother of seven, as she left.

Moadamiyeh, which a UN report said was gassed with toxic sarin in 2013, has suffered a three-year government siege.

Moadamiyeh, also known as Moadamiyet al-Sham was the site of the infamous August 2013 chemical attack, which left hundreds dead and sparked a US-Russian agreement to strip Damascus of its chemical weapons.

The suburb of the capital was an early bastion of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. In mid-2011 rebels took control of the area.

Opposition fighters said they were forced to accept the deal because the blockade and constant bombardment by the army had made the humanitarian situation untenable.

Syria’s opposition criticised the deal, while the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura voiced concern that the Daraya agreement was part of a wider strategy by the regime to empty rebel enclaves that would soon be extended to other areas.

Last week, rebel fighters and their families were evacuated from the town of Daraya just east of Moadamiyet al-Sham, under a deal that gave complete control of the town to the Syrian army.

Residents in al-Waer, a rebel-held district of Homs city reportedly made a Daraya-style agreement with the regime to evacuate 500 rebels and their families.

 

 

Opposition fighters said they were forced to accept the deal because the blockade and constant bombardment by the army had made the humanitarian situation untenable.

The opposition has criticised such deals and UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura also voiced concern that the Daraya agreement was part of a wider strategy by the regime to empty rebel enclaves that would soon be extended to other areas.





A deal had also been reached there under whose terms civilians were transferred to northern rebel-held parts of Syria.

That sparked accusations of demographic re-engineering by the regime, with reports suggesting loyalist families are being brought in to replace the evacuated residents.

 

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