More than 3,000 people were evacuated from Syria's Damascus suburb of Daraya on Saturday following a deal to end a four-year siege and a grueling bombing campaign there, according to a human rights group.
The deal followed an extensive government campaign of aerial bombing and shelling of Daraya, the last bastion against President Bashar Assad in the western Ghouta region, southwest of Damascus.
Some 800 gunmen and 2,400 civilians were evacuated, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The gunmen and their families headed to the northern rebel-controlled Idlib province, the group said. Civilians were escorted to shelters in government-controlled suburbs of Damascus.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights statement said Daraya is clear of gunmen and under the control of the Syrian army, which was conducting inspections in the city.
Daraya "remained for about four years beyond the control of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and out of the reach of his forces and gunmen loyal to him, despite bombardment of thousands of barrel bombs and thousands of missiles and rockets, that killed and wounded thousands," the statement said.
Control of Daraya is a boost to Assad's forces and increases security to the capital, his seat of power.
Meanwhile a bloody battle for the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, is ongoing.