Last Updated: 2018-03-14
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Mar 14 (NNN-XINHUA) - After being trapped in the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus for six years, civilians who managed to evacuate the rebel-held areas could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

In every war, the civilians seem to be those suffering most and the scars left are so deep that their lives are full of sorrowful memories.

For the civilians leaving Eastern Ghouta, what they could hardly forget is, the tough living conditions in their hometowns, where they suffer from lack of medicine and food, amid ongoing military showdown.

A total of 146 civilians, 44 women, 24 men and 78 children, left rebel-held areas in Eastern Ghouta, on Tuesday, after long days of waiting to move to safe places.

The civilians, mainly people with medical conditions and children, reached government-controlled Wafidin area, in north-east Damascus, through a humanitarian corridor, set up between Wafidin and the adjacent rebel-held Douma district, in Eastern Ghouta.

It is the first major civilian convoy to leave the area, since the corridor was set up 14 days ago, for the evacuation of civilians, after a Russian-backed humanitarian pause went into force.

The civilians were taken to a temporary shelter at a school in the Wafidin area, where the children were vaccinated immediately.

The facial expressions of the grownups were a mix of confusion and exhaustion, as it's their first time to leave Eastern Ghouta, to a place where they are promised to be well-treated.

Samya Jaber, an evacuee, who managed to leave Eastern Ghouta with her father and three children, said, she was desperate to have her critically ill father get access to medication.

"Our situation was very bad inside, with no food or any life necessities. Thankfully we registered our names and were evacuated by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The people here are treating us well but we still have families inside who couldn't leave," she said.

Sitting next to his daughter and son, Jamal Hashem pointed to the head of his daughter, which was wrapped in a bandage, saying, most of the evacuees were either in need of medical help or accompanying relatives and family members who need medical care.

"The civilians inside Eastern Ghouta wish to leave that area because of the hard living conditions, soaring prices as well as, fear and panic," he said.

The evacuation of civilians from Ghouta came, a day after the Islam Army, the major rebel group in Eastern Ghouta, announced a deal with Russia, over the evacuation of the wounded from the area.

The rebel group said in a statement that, an agreement has been reached with the Russians, to allow the UN to evacuate wounded people out of Eastern Ghouta for medical treatment.

"The agreement comes as a result of the government's siege on areas in Eastern Ghouta, with the lack of medication and "targeting of medical facilities," the statement claimed.

The Islam Army is a Saudi-backed rebel group, mainly positioned in the Douma district, in Eastern Ghouta.

The situation in Eastern Ghouta has flared up since late Feb, following a wide-scale military operation by the Syrian army, to dislodge al-Qaeda-linked groups from the area.

On Sunday, the Syrian army split Eastern Ghouta into three parts, by tightening the siege on Douma in the north, the city of Harasta in the west and other towns and villages south of the region.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region, consisting of several towns and farmlands, constitutes the last threat to Damascus, given its proximity to government-controlled neighbourhoods, east of the capital and continuing mortar attacks on residential areas there.

Four major rebel groups are positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.-- NNN-XINHUA