DAMASCUS, Syria, Syrian rebel forces will leave the Damascus suburb of Darayya after agreeing to hand over their weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which will take over the besieged town.
An agreement between the rebels and Assad’s regime was reached Thursday. About 700 rebels will leave Darayya to go to the city of Idlib. Families will be evacuated from the city and placed in temporary shelters in or near Damascus.
The rebel departure follows weeks of increased attacks and airstrikes by the Syrian regime, some of which activists said included napalm attacks.
“The Assad regime and the armed groups in Darayya agreed on a ceasefire as an interlude to a settlement that includes evacuating civilians as of tomorrow, Friday,” a member of the local council told The Guardian on Thursday. “The civilians are forced mainly to go to the regime-held areas. It is said that the families of the fighters can go with them, but nothing is confirmed yet. Tomorrow, when they come to take the first group of civilians, we will know further details.”
Syria has been ravaged by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory.
Darayya was one of the first towns to oppose Assad’s regime more than five years ago. It became iconic in the resistance movement against Assad — besieged for four years.
“We are awaiting the heroes of Darayya, the courageous,” Osama Abu Zaid, legal consultant to the Free Syrian Army, said during a radio broadcast on Thursday. “For four years Darayya was under siege and the international community did nothing … Four years and the United Nations couldn’t provide any humanitarian aid, except once.”
By Andrew V. Pestano