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13th convoy departs E. Ghouta as part of evacuation deal

Syrian civilians wait to evacuate Arbin town of Eastern Ghouta to reach Hama on 28 March 2018 [Dia Al-Din Samout/Anadolu Agency]

The 13th convoy carrying civilians and opposition fighters from Syria’s besieged suburb of Eastern Ghouta arrived in the western suburbs of Aleppo and Idlib provinces on Monday.

The evacuees were taken from the towns of Arbin, Zamalka, and Ain Tarma. Monday’s convoy was made of 28 buses carrying over 1,000 passengers, including injured people, patients, women and children.

Separately, in Duma, one of the biggest districts in Eastern Ghouta, 89 injured and sick people were also evacuated.

At least 46,000 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta since the evacuation process began on 22 March.

Evacuees are being accommodated at temporary refugee centers, and at local schools and mosques, in Syria’s north-western Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

The evacuations are part of a Russian-brokered agreement between Syria’s Assad regime and armed opposition groups.

On 24 February, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which called for a cease-fire in Syria — especially in Eastern Ghouta — to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Despite the resolution, however, the regime and its allies launched a major ground offensive early in March aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of the district.

Since 19 February, more than 1,400 people have been killed in attacks by the regime and its allies in Eastern Ghouta, according to local civil-defense sources.

Home to some 400,000 residents, the district has remained under a crippling siege for the last five years which has prevented the delivery of badly needed humanitarian supplies.

Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

According to UN officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict to date.

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