19 June, Tuesday

25 evacuated from E. Ghouta in line with Russia deal


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A group of 25 medical patients were evacuated from Syria’s Eastern Ghouta district on Tuesday in line with a deal struck between Russia and an armed opposition group, according to a local official.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Riyad Abdulaziz, head of Eastern Ghouta’s local council, said the 25 patients had been evacuated by the Syrian Red Crescent under UN supervision.
The move comes in line with a deal struck earlier this week between Russia and the Jaysh al-Islam, an armed opposition group that maintains a presence in besieged Eastern Ghouta.
The first batch of 25 evacuees, which included women and children, will be followed soon afterward by another 10 or 15, according to Abdulaziz.
On Monday, the Jaysh al-Islam, one of the region’s largest armed opposition groups, announced it had reached agreement with Russia to allow the evacuation of medical patients from the district.  
Eastern Ghouta falls within a network of de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited. 
But this has not stopped Syria’s Assad regime from repeatedly attacking the opposition-held district, a suburb of Damascus.  
Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.  
As the district’s humanitarian situation has deteriorated, thousands of residents suffering chronic illnesses -- including children -- have been left in desperate need of medical treatment.
Many children in Eastern Ghouta have reportedly lost their lives due to a lack of medical treatment or starvation.  
A UN commission of inquiry recently released a report accusing the Syrian regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and forcibly preventing medical evacuations.


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