Syrian opposition, regime allies to exchange hostages

New agreement calls for evacuation of civilians from Kefraya, Al-Fuaa districts of northwestern Idlib
ANKARA, Turkey / IDLIB, Syria: Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces have made another deal to evacuate thousands of civilians and fighters from two besieged districts in northwest Syria, according to opposition sources on Tuesday.
The agreement hammered out between the two sides calls for the evacuation of civilians from Kefraya and Al-Fuaa districts of Idlib.
Both Kefraya and Al-Fuaa districts remain surrounded by opposition forces.
Under the new deal, a total of 6,900 people will be evacuated, while the Assad regime will release 1,500 civilians and fighters.
Last year, many prisoners in al-Yarmouk refugee camp, Madaya and al-Zabadani, as well as in the regime’s prisons, were freed as part of a deal to evacuate the Shias in Kefraya and Al-Fuaa.
The two Shia-majority districts will be completely evacuated should new evacuation takes place.
Notably, Idlib falls within a network of de-escalation zones — endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran — in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.–AA

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