Civilians evacuated in Eastern Ghouta, say reports | News | DW | 13.03.2018
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Civilians evacuated in Eastern Ghouta, say reports

The evacuees would be the first civilians to flee eastern Ghouta since the implementation of the UN ceasefire led by Russia. Syria's Red Crescent said it would begin treating the wounded outside of the conflict zone.

A health worker treats a wounded civilian (picture-alliance/AA/K. Akasha)

A health worker treats a civilian wounded in the continued strikes on eastern Ghouta

Syrian Television on Tuesday showed sick and injured civilians being evacuated from the rebel enclave in eastern Ghouta. The UN Resident Coordinator in Syria confirmed that it expected the evacuations to include "people with medical conditions."

The Reuters News Agency reported that some 100 people were able to leave eastern Ghouta so far on Tuesday, citing the Russian news agency Interfax.

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The Syrian army has led a month-long campaign of air and artillery strikes in eastern Ghouta, the last big rebel bastion near the Damascus, which has left more than 1,100 civilians dead, according to the UN.

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Tuesday's evacuees would be the first people to leave the conflict-ridden area since a Russian-led short ceasefire was agreed to last month.

SANA news agency reported that the families left the eastern Ghouta through a "safe corridor" at the al-Wafideen crossing point. The state-run al-Ikhbariya TV broadcaster showed people, including sick and injured, being accompanied by army forces.

Syria's Red Crescent said it was prepared to help people in need of medical care who were leaving the battered rebel enclave in a tweet on Tuesday.

On Monday, the group had announced that it would treat people outside of eastern Ghouta through an agreement "via the United Nations with Russia."

The Syrian government's assault on eastern Ghouta has become one of the biggest offensives of the war. If successful, it could deal the rebels their biggest defeat since the battle of Aleppo in 2016.

Read more: Eastern Ghouta tragedy pits neighbors against each other

The 400,000 residents in eastern Ghouta have faced severe shortages of food and medicines, even before the latest escalation of violence.

US AmbassadorNikki Haley told the UN Security Councilon Monday that the Russia-led ceasefire "has failed" and has proposed a new draft resolution that would call for a 30-day truce in the eastern Ghouta and Damascus.

jcg/rc (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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