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Major Evacuation of Fighters, Civilians since Beginning of War in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Rebel fighters and civilians gather as they wait to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 16, 2016. Reuters

London – During the years of the Syrian war that erupted in 2011 as many areas were besieged by all conflict parties, the country has witnessed several evacuations involving tens of thousands of civilians and fighters, especially from the strongholds of the opposition factions.

The Syrian regime has always praised the reconciliation agreements, which usually come after a military escalation and end with the departure of the opposition fighters from areas they controlled before the regime’s forces took over.

The United Nations has criticized these operations, which the Syrian opposition regards as “forced displacement” and accuses the regime of seeking “demographic change” in the country.

Following are the highlights of the most prominent evacuations as reported in an AFP report:

-Syrian rebels and their families started to leave Barzeh district in Damascus on Monday in the first evacuation process of opposition factions from the Syrian capital since the eruption of the conflict more than six years ago.

Damascus governor told the Syrian national television that a first wave of 1,022 people, including 568 fighters and their families, left the district.

– In April, and for the first time since 2015, an estimated 11,000 fighters and civilians left besieged Kufraya and al-Fuaa in the first two convoys the same month. In return, 3,900 fighters and civilians from Madaya and Zabadani in Outer Damascus left for rebel-held Idlib province.

The first phase of the operation concluded on April 21, followed by a second phase scheduled for June.

-Syrian opposition faction fighters agreed to leave their stronghold in Homs, Syria’s third largest city, in May 2014, to limit their presence to al-Waar district.

This deal was the first of its kind between the regime and the opposition faction fighters, and it stipulates their withdrawal from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011. It was negotiated between the United Nations and the Syrian government.

In 2016, dozens of fighters left Waar district in three phases under the virtue of another deal that was concluded in December 2015 under the auspices of the UN, yet the implementation of its provisions was not completed.

Mid-March 2016, opposition factions’ fighters also started leaving the district, which was the last area under their control, in implementation of an agreement sponsored by Russia, and the phased completion would allow the Syrian army to control the entire city.