- Jul 2011
More: Syria rebels in Damascus district surrender as government comes closer to recapturing whole of capitalHundreds of Syrian rebel fighters and their families were evacuated from Damascus for the first time on Monday, bringing the government one step closer to recapturing all of the prized capital city.
Fighters in the district of Barzeh, which is besieged by regime forces, surrendered in exchange for safe passage to other opposition-held areas.
Some of the 1,500 men, women and children expected to leave on Monday were pictured boarding green government buses, carrying duffel bags and suitcases.
They will be taken to the opposition stronghold of Idlib in northwestern Syria, where tens of thousands of rebels and activists have been sent under similar so-called reconciliation agreements.
Barzeh has been badly destroyed by years of fighting between regime forces and rebel fighters, which has only intensified in recent weeks as the government tries to wrest back control of the capital.
The district is not included in the four designated “safe zones” agreed by Turkey, Russia and Iran at the latest peace talks in Kazakhstan.
“The agreement was reached after the recent attacks and ongoing shelling on Barzeh neighborhood, which was constantly targeted by regime forces,” said activist Ahmed al-Khatib.
One rebel source told the Telegraph they felt pressured to surrender to end the attacks and crippling siege on the civilian population.
The deal to evacuate Barzeh district mirrors reconciliation deals for opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country, including Aleppo and Homs.
Bashar al-Assad's government controls all but six districts of Damascus: Barzeh, Qabun, Jobar, Tishreen, Tadamun, and the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, which have a combined population of around 55,000.
"We are working on Qabun and there is the Yarmouk camp, where talks are underway for the evacuation of armed groups," Walid Moallem, the foreign minister, said on state TV on Monday.
Also: Evacuation of Syrian rebels starts in Barzeh | Syria News | Al Jazeera
Al Qaeda-aligned militants in Yarmouk are also leaving and surrendering their territory to Assad's forces: Deal sees Nusra fighters evacuate from Syria's Yarmouk | Syria News | Al Jazeera
Pro-Russian and pro-Assad sites are also celebrating the apparently imminent surrender of Qaboun, large parts of which the pro-government forces have already overrun in the recent offensive: MILITANTS TO SURRENDER AL-QABOUN DISTRICT IN EASTERN DAMASCUS TO GOVERNMENT FORCES – REPORTS
The SAA has also launched an offensive against the FSA along the Baghdad-Damascus Highway
Syrian Army advances along Damascus-Baghdad Highway for first time in years
Syrian Army captures key mountaintop in southeast Damascus
The government is also advancing steadily in Hama:
Nearly 100 rebel casualties as Syrian troops overrun two points in northern Hama
VIDEO: Syrian Army captures senior jihadist commander alive in northern Hama
Jihadist rebels in trouble as Syrian Army reaches important northern Hama town
Troops are also fighting back against ISIS in Deir Ezzor: Syrian forces destroy IS hideouts and fortifications in Deir Ezzor
Meanwhile, in Aleppo, people are celebrating Russia's Victory Day
Aleppo residents celebrate Russia’s victory in WWII
And a Murdish official says Russia pushed Erdogan to invade Syria with his military, and and they want to use the Turkish troops to beat down the Kurds and force them to submit to Assad: Russia pushing Turkey into Rojava to force Kurds submit to Assad rule: PKK official - ARA News
If that's true, why are Russian troops deployed together with Kurds in places like Afrin and Manbij, PROTECTING them from the bloody Turks?
But, who knows... :smiley-shrug: