Buses begin evacuation of rebels in southwestern Syria

At least ten buses have begun evacuating rebels from an area in southwestern Syria near the Israeli-held Golan Heights as part of a deal in which the rebels agreed to surrender the territory to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least ten buses have begun evacuating rebels from an area in southwestern Syria near the Israeli-held Golan Heights as part of a deal in which the rebels agreed to surrender the territory to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Buses transporting both rebels and civilians fearing government persecution began pulling out of the village of Um Batna in the province of Quneitra in the mid-afternoon and were headed for opposition-held areas in the northwest, a witness told Reuters.

On Friday, Quneitra Governor Hammam Dbayat stated that plans to transport the rebels out of the area were ready and that, upon the completion of the operation, basic services now shut off would again be provided to the area.

In one of the fastest campaigns of the nation's seven-year conflict, government forces aided by Russian air-support regained control over vast areas in the Syrian southwest over the past month, forcing opposition fighters to lay down their arms and surrender.

The campaign, which has already enabled Assad to regain control of an important section of the border with Jordan, is an important milestone in the government’s efforts to regain control of the entire country.

Large amounts of territory to the northwest are held by Kurdish-led militias, supported by approximately 2,000 US troops. 

Editing by John J. Catherine