Activists report that 170 rebel fighters on Monday have been evacuated from the town of Sarghaya near the Lebanese border to northern Idleb province under a deal with the Syrian regime, brokered by Russia.
The regime sent several buses to transport around 170 fighters and their families from the town, which lies in the western Damascus countryside, to Idleb province.
In recent months, the regime has resorted to striking “reconciliation” deals with rebels, allowing them to leave besieged or targeted areas. Fighters are increasingly accepting such deals to surrender and leave for rebel-held Idleb.
Reconciliation deals have already taken place in areas including Daraya, Al-Tal, Wadi Barada, and Khan al-Sheeh in the Damascus countryside. These deals allow rebels two choices, surrender and leave or pledge loyalty to the regime and join its ranks.
As the forced displacement of Syrian fighters and their families continues, it becomes clear that the regime plans to create a demographic change, especially in Damascus and its countryside. In these areas, Iranian militias hold significant power, and in particular Hezbollah which considers the recent evacuation deal in Sarghaya as a huge victory that will help protect its strongholds in Lebanon against attack.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.