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7,350 people start evacuating 4 Syrian towns

IANS | Damascus |

As many as 7,350 people have started evacuating four Syrian towns Friday under a deal concluded between the Syrian government and rebels, a military source said.

A total of 60 buses carrying around 2,350 rebels and their families evacuated the town of Madaya and nearby areas toward rebel-held areas in the province of Idlib, the source told Xinhu news agency.

In return, around 75 buses and 20 ambulances carrying 5,000 people, including fighters, left the Shia towns of Kafraya and Foa toward government-controlled areas in the city of Aleppo.

The actual implementation of the deal started on Thursday, by a swap of detainees between the rebels and the government forces.

The rebels in Idlib released four children and eight women they kidnapped from Kafraya and Foa, and returned the bodies of eight government forces men in exchange of the release of 19 rebels detained by the pro-government fighters in Kafraya and Foa.

The low-scale swap took place through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

The deal, reached late last month, includes evacuation of rebels and their families from the besieged towns of Madaya and Zabadani, which are under the rebel control northwest of capital Damascus, as well as Kafraya and Foa, both pro-government towns besieged by the rebels.