DAMASCUS, SYRIA (5:10 P.M.) – Scores of civilians managed to escape the besieged Eastern Ghouta region through underground tunnels to the recently-recaptured neighborhood of Qaboun.
The escapees fled from Arbin; a town in the Eastern Ghouta currently caught in fierce infighting among rival rebel groups which claimed the lives of dozens of fighters as well as civilians.
Exhausted and overstrained, the escapees spoke with a senior officer of the Syrian Army about the living conditions in the rebel-held areas.
“At first they didn’t allow us to leave. Then we gathered in great numbers until we managed to enter the tunnel leading from Arbin to here (Qaboun). There are thousands of civilians who want to leave but are denied exit by the rebels,'” they told the officer.
“I only ask for the safety of my little daughter. Take us wherever you want but I need my daughter to be safe,” a young father told the Army general while holding a little girl on his shoulders.
The senior Army officer, who was the commander of the Syrian Army operation in Qaboun, said that civilians don’t have to reconcile with the government as they have done nothing wrong.
“You are our families, no one will harm you here since you are now under our own protection,” he said.
The government troops have recently recaptured Qaboun after achieving significant advances inside the rebel bastion, thus forcing the insurgents to conclude an evacuation agreement.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Ghouta, the Saudi-funded Jaish al-Islam continues its campaign against rival rebel groups. The infighting has so far left scores dead and injured.