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Thousands of Syrians evacuated from besieged villages

July 20, 2018 12:33 P.M. (Updated: July 20, 2018 10:30 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The evacuation of thousands of people from two loyalist Syrian villages, which were besieged by rebels, in the northwest are of Syria is nearly complete, with the Syrian government expected to release hundreds of detainees in return, on Thursday.

The buses are traveling through a rebel-held area and have yet to reach a government checkpoint, which is around 30 km (18 miles) away from the evacuated villages.

Over 100 buses had arrived on Wednesday to transport residents and fighters from the villages to a nearby government-held area in the Aleppo province overnight.

It is estimated that some 7,000 Syrian residents are meant to be evacuated from both villages.

The Syrian villages have been under siege for many years by Sunni Islamist rebels, the last major rebel held part of Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad released a statement in which he vowed to recover the entire country.

In addition, on Thursday, Russia and Syrian opposition factions reached an agreement that provides safe return to the Syrian Arab army to their pre-2011 positions, before the Syrian Civil War began.

Following the agreement, ten buses entered Um Batina village, in Quneitra southern countryside, in order to evacuate Syrian rebels, who are unwilling to settle their legal status towards north Syria, according to the Syrian News Agency SANA.

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