With the suburbs of Damascus increasingly surrounded by the Syrian military and facing growing pressure, a negotiated evacuation today saw buses arrive at Qudsiya and al-Hama to evacuate some 2,000 people, 400 of them rebel fighters and the rest their families.
The deal was made between the Syrian military and the local leaders in those suburbs, who sought to avoid a full-scale assault on the tiny, poorly defended towns. The rebels are being taken north, where they will be delivered to rebel-held territories.
This is the latest in a series of such evacuation deals over the past several months, which have seen the Syrian military consolidate its territory and expel some rebel enclaves. There have also been a few deals wherein pro-government forces were evacuated from rebel areas in the north.
These evacuations may ultimately leave Syria more formally divided between contiguous areas owned by different factions. This might eventually push the civil war itself simply to the frontiers between such areas, and lead to a de facto fragmentation of the country.