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Second evacuation agreement reached in Eastern Ghouta: state media

Syrian regime forces stand near as rebels evacuate Eastern Ghouta [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2018

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The second evacuation agreement covers Zamalka, Abrin an Ain Tarma, three areas in the southern part of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.
A second evacuation agreement in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has been reached in the month-long regime offensive, according to Syrian state media. 

At least 7,000 people, including fighters and their families, will be transferred from Zamalka, Abrin and Ain Tarma - all in the southern part of Eastern Ghouta. Evacuations will begin on Saturday at 9am local time.

The deal is with the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al-Rahman group, the second-largest rebel group in Eastern Ghouta.

On February 18, the Syrian regime began its deadly assault on the rebel-held enclave, splintering it into three ever-shrinking pockets.

A separate deal began on Thursday for the Harasta area. The deal was struck with a separate rebel group in the enclave. 

Tens of thousands of Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 people have fled areas once controlled by Faylaq al-Rahman, including Hammourieh and Kafr Batna.

The regime has now retaken more than 70 per cent of Eastern Ghouta in what is the biggest military gain since the 2016 offensive in Eastern Aleppo.

The first deal was brokered by regime-ally Russia and has since paved the way for other evacuation agreements. Talks are currently underway for evacuating Douma, the largest of Eastern Ghouta's towns.

Both Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes have devastated Eastern Aleppo, with at least 1,500 casualties since the offensive began last month.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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