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Syrian army evacuates civilians from Damascus' Eastern Ghouta amid military progress

2018-03-13 06:26:19 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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Syrian soldiers flash the victory sign on their tank in the town of Aftaris in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside, Syria, on March 12, 2018. Syrian army captured on Monday the town of Aftaris in Eastern Ghouta, the latest town to be retaken by the army during the wide-scale offensive in that area, state news agency SANA said. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)

DAMASCUS, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Monday secured the evacuation of civilians from recently-captured areas in the capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside, state news agency SANA reported.

The latest batch of civilians was evacuated from the town of Medyara, which was stormed by the Syrian army on Sunday.

This batch is the second after the army also secured the evacuation of the civilians from the town of Mesraba.

The Russian Defense Ministry was cited by local media reports as placing the number of civilians evacuated from Eastern Ghouta over the past few days at 76.

However, no major civilian evacuation took place through the designated humanitarian corridor such as the one in Wafidin area in northeastern Damascus close to the rebel-held town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta or in Mlaiha southeast of Damascus.

The official media outlets in Syria accuse the rebels of preventing the civilians from leaving.

Meanwhile, SANA said the Syrian army captured on Monday the town of Aftaris in Eastern Ghouta, the latest town to be retaken by the army during the wide-scale offensive in that area.

The situation in Eastern Ghouta has flared up since late last month as a result of a wide-scale military operation in that area. The Syrian army has been fighting there to dislodge the al-Qaida-linked groups from that area.

A day earlier, the Syrian army split Eastern Ghouta into three parts after advancing in the battles there, tightening the siege on Douma in the north, the city of Harasta in the west and other towns and villages south of Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government forces have captured 60 percent of Eastern Ghouta since unleashing an offensive in that area late last month.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.

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

The UN humanitarian agencies have sounded the alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation for 400,000 people in that region, where activists said over 1,000 people have been killed since late last month by the heavy bombardment and military showdown in areas of Eastern Ghouta.