Late Monday evening, 29 Syrian government busses filled with Islamist rebels began their long departure to Idlib province following a recently signed evacuation deal in the West Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus.
Under the terms of the agreement, over 300 AK-47 guns were handed over to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) today. In addition, two rebel ‘Shilka’ tanks type ‘ZSU-23-4’ were seized by government forces while SAA commanders were given maps of tunnels and mines.
Notably, the evacuation deal not only involves the town of Khan al-Shieh but also the nearby rebel-held villages of Zakahiyah, At Tayyibah, Maran, and al-Mualliyah.
In total, over 2,500 people are set to be transferred to the Jaysh al-Fateh heartland of Idlib province. This number includes 1,450 Islamist fighters and their family members (589 women, 900 children). The vast majority have left already.
Red Cresent ambulances also accommodated the bus convoy, primarily due to a large number of injured militants in rebel ranks. A few hundred militants remain inside Khan al-Shieh at the moment; these fighters will leave in the coming days as the final formalities of the agreement unfold. Effectively, the Syrian flag will be hoisted over the town’s city center for the first time in years.