Evacuations of besieged Syrians resume after 48-hour delay

The evacuation and transfer of thousands of Syrians from four besieged areas resumed on Friday after being stuck for 48 hours at a transit point

Evacuees from al-Foua and Kefraya arrive by buses to government-controlled Aleppo
Evacuees from al-Foua and Kefraya arrive by buses to government-controlled Aleppo

The evacuation of Syrian civilians and fighters from four besieged towns, part of a swap deal between the warring sides, resumed on Friday after a 48-hour halt, state media and a war monitoring group said.

More than 35 busloads of civilians and pro-government fighters from the towns of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province had left the marshalling area in rebel-held Rashidin arrived in Aleppo city, which is under government control, the war monitor said.

A total of 3,000 evacuees left their homes in al-Foua and Kafraya at dawn on Wednesday after being  stuck at a staging area outside Aleppo, where a bomb attack on an evacuation convoy killed scores of people last week.

Dozens of armed rebels were guarding the buses at Rashidin for fear of another attack.

All of the 11 buses evacuating civilians and fighters from Zabadani and two other rebel-held areas around Damascus were also on the move, according the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The buses from Zabadani and surrounding areas headed for rebel-held Idlib province in the northwest.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 48-hour suspension was due to rebel demands for the government to free 750 prisoners as part of the agreement. It said it remained unclear if authorities had released any prisoners as the reciprocal evacuations resumed in the morning.

The evacuations began last week but were delayed after suicide car bombing on Saturday killed 150 people, 72 of them children, at the transit point in Rashidin.

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