- Friday, April 21, 2017 6:54 PM
Damascus, 21 April 2017 (MIA) - The evacuation of Syrian civilians and fighters from four besieged towns was completed on Friday after a 48-hour halt, as part of a mediated swap deal between the warring sides, state media and a rebel official said.
Thousands of civilians and pro-government fighters from the Shi'ite towns of al-Foua and Kefraya arrived in army-held Aleppo, a war monitor said.
Evacuees from the two rebel-besieged towns had been stuck at a staging area outside the city, where a bomb attack on an evacuation convoy killed scores of people last week.
In exchange, busloads of rebels and their relatives from Zabadani left a second nearby transit point for rebel territory, state television said.
The towns of Zabadani and Madaya, which had long been under siege by pro-government forces near Damascus, came under state rule this week after Sunni rebels and civilians were evacuated.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the 48-hour suspension was due to rebel demands for the government to free 750 prisoners under the deal.
Rebels reached an agreement on Friday with the government for it to release 500 prisoners who will cross into opposition areas as part of the wider deal, a rebel official told Reuters. lk/18:53
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