Rebels begin leaving new area outside Damascus: state media

A Syrian rebel fighter evacuated from the town of Dumayr, east of the capital Damascus, holds his son while sitting in a bus upon arriving in the city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo on April 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2018
0

Rebels begin leaving new area outside Damascus: state media

DAMASCUS: Rebels started leaving a new area outside the Syrian capital Saturday, state media said, after a new deal was reached between opposition fighters and the Russia-backed regime.
The agreement for the East Qalamun area is the latest in a string of deals that have seen rebels and civilians bussed out of former opposition strongholds near Damascus.
"Buses carrying terrorists and their families start exiting Al-Ruhayba", a town in East Qalamun some 60 kilometres (35 miles) northeast of Damascus, state news agency SANA said, using its usual term for rebels.
State television said 3,200 fighters and their relatives were expected to leave Al-Ruhayba, as well as the nearby towns of Al-Nasiriya and Jayrud on Saturday.
It showed images of buses moving in what it said was Al-Ruhayba, most with their curtains drawn.
SANA late Friday said an agreement had been reached for fighters to leave Al-Ruhayba, Jayrud and Al-Nasiriya starting Saturday.
They would be transferred to the rebel-held northern town of Jarabulus in Aleppo province and to the neighbouring province of Idlib, where hardline rebels have their strongest grip on power.
The regime is pushing to secure the capital after it announced its full reconquest last week of what was the last major rebel bastion outside Damascus.
Eastern Ghouta was emptied of rebels after a nearly two-month deadly assault on the enclave and several Russia-brokered deals that saw tens of thousands of people transported on buses to Syria's north.
Earlier this week, a deal was inked that saw around 5,000 people including 1,500 fighters exit Dumayr, a town just to the south of Al-Ruhayba.
The regime has simultaneously turned its sights on the southern districts of the capital where Daesh has a presence.
Regime forces have bombarded the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus in recent days in a bid to dislodge Daesh fighters.
Syria's conflict has killed 350,000 people and displaced millions more since it broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Israel closes people crossing with Gaza: official

Updated 24 min 26 sec ago
0

Israel closes people crossing with Gaza: official

  • Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire
  • Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence

JERUSALEM: Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases over border incidents that saw protests and clashes at the weekend, an Israeli official said.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees the passage confirmed that the Erez crossing had been closed.
Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire.
Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory.
The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The spokeswoman for the defense ministry unit, known as COGAT, did not say how long the crossing would be closed.
The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.
Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.
Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.
Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.
At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.
UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.
Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.