Hundreds of Syrian rebels start evacuating Damascus district

Military Withdrawal From Barzeh District in Syria's Damascus Kicks Off

Military Withdrawal From Barzeh District in Syria's Damascus Kicks Off

Syrian rebels have begun withdrawing from disputed neighborhoods in Damascus after reaching a deal with the government, according to both pro-government and pro-opposition sources, The agreement ends months of clashes and gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a new opportunity to secure the entire capital.

The evacuation from Barzeh will be carried out in batches and will be completed on Thursday.

Over the past months, tens of thousands of people living in besieged areas around Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo — Syria's largest city — have surrendered after prolonged sieges in exchange for safe relocation to opposition-held areas elsewhere in the country.

The channel said the evacuation would take five days, but that opposition members who chose to stay could do so if they registered with the regime.

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"Armed men and some of their families have begun leaving Barzeh on 40 buses heading towards northern Syria", state television said.

As for the Russia-Iran-Turkey ceasefire deal, there are still questions about how it will be enforced.

The Barzeh evacuation deal was struck late on Sunday night, and dozens of people had gathered in the district from the morning.

"We do not accept a role for the United Nations or global forces to monitor the agreement", he said.

The evacuation begins days after regime backers Russian Federation and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal to implement "de-escalation zones" where the government and opposition will halt hostilities.

Even if the agreement is enforced, it is unlikely to end the conflict.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem today rejected any role for the United Nations or worldwide forces in monitoring the zones.

Mr al-Moallem reiterated his government's commitment to the Astana deal but said it is "premature" to talk about whether it will be successful.

The memorandum also calls on all parties to fight jihadists from so-called Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaeda-linked alliance once known as al-Nusra Front.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, reporting from neighbouring Turkey, said that armed opposition groups have been highly critical of these evacuation plans and accuse the government of using them as a form of "ethnic cleansing". Mr al-Moallem said "it is the duty" of these armed groups to force the militants from their areas so that they can become safe.

He said "there are still logistical details that will be discussed in Damascus and we will see the extent of commitment to this agreement".

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