Thousands More Shi'ites Able to Leave Idlib Province
Stalled for several days over arguments about security, and at least one car bombing against buses full of civilians over the weekend, the mutual evacuations by Syria’s government and rebels resumed today, with thousands of people, including rebel fighters and Shi’ite civilians, being ferried back and forth.
This included the end of the high-profile siege of the town of Zabadani, near the Lebanon border, which the rebels had controlled for some time. The last rebels departed the town today, heading for the Idlib Province, which is overwhelmingly controlled by rebels.
In the meantime, thousands more Shi’ite civilians who had been trapped in a pair of towns in Idlib were able to get out of the rebel-held area, and are being brought to the government-controlled city of Aleppo. The evacuation of the towns, along with more rebel villages along the border, are expected to continue for some time.
There have been several evacuation deals over the past year, with the government getting rebels out of their last surrounded strongholds in government territory with promises of passage to rebel territory. This is the biggest such effort, and one of the first to include major evacuations of Shi’ites out of Idlib.
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