The evacuation of armed opposition fighters from the city of Al-Tal in the Damascus countryside has been completed following last week’s announcement of a settlement deal between the local council and the regime’s so-called reconciliation council.
Last night a convoy composed of 43 buses departed the city bearing fighters and their families toward Idleb in northern Syria. Activists on social media reported they have neared Idleb.
The communications council in Al-Tal instructed the armed opposition groups, after recording their names on the list of those departing the city, to prepare their luggage and ready themselves to depart.
Sources inside the city estimated the number who had been recorded to be about 4,000 people including civilians and fighters, some of them sick and wounded, with the door open to recording additional lists if needed.
According to the deal, permission will be granted “to those young men who want to leave with their personal weapons for any area they choose, with the rest of the weapons surrendered in full. The statuses of wanted people will be cleared, including men, women and those who have evaded military service, within the settlement, lasting six months, after which they either perform military service or leave the city of Al-Tal.”
The deal includes defectors from the army and national institutions, with the exception of those who have appeared in the media, according to the same sources.
The settlement’s items also included “opening the Al-Tal road completely and opening the Menin road to civilians,” in addition to the formation of a committee of 200 people to defend the city, to be formed by the communications council working under the state security apparatus.
According to the settlement, the role of the regime army in the city will be limited to searching for those bearing weapons in agreement with the permanent reconciliations council.
The city of Al-Tal is strategically located about 14 kilometers north of the center of Damascus. Its residents number about 100,000 people, five times higher than usual following mass displacement to it from the towns of the eastern Ghouta and villages of Qalamoun.
The Assad regime over the past few months has pursued a policy of displacing the residents of the cities and towns outside its control in the Damascus countryside, as it cleared out the city of Daraya in the western Ghouta on Aug. 26, then signing a deal with the city of Moadhamiyat al-Sham on Oct. 19, alongside a deal in Qadissiya and Al-Hama, and recently in Khan al-Sheikh.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.