Soldiers of pro-government militia are pictured in Aleppo, Syria, on Dec. 11, 2016. (Xinhua/Yang Zhen) (zw)
Soldiers of pro-government militia are pictured in Aleppo, Syria, on Dec. 11, 2016. (Xinhua/Yang Zhen) (zw)

A total of 42 people have been set free from the rebel-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria and reached Aleppo province on Tuesday, said the state news agency SANA.

The people have been kidnapped by the rebels in the town of Eshtabraq in Idlib, and their release is part of a deal reached recently with the government, SANA said. The deal stipulates releasing the kidnapped people from Eshtabraq and breaking a siege on the two pro-government towns of Kafraya and Foa in Idlib in exchange for allowing rebels in Yarmouk Camp south of Damascus to leave to Idlib.

SANA said people with medical conditions from Kafraya and Foa as well as the 42 freed people reached the al-Eis crossing south of Aleppo, noting that it’s the first stage of the deal as more people are expected to be set free from the militants’ captivity in Idlib. Meanwhile, five buses transporting 200 rebels and their families left the Yarmouk Camp under the deal, said SANA.

It’s worth noting that the Islamic State (IS) controls 75 percent of the Yarmouk Camp and it is excluded from the deal amid a wide-scale military offensive on the IS positions in Yarmouk and the nearby Hajar al-Aswad area. The evacuation of the rebels from Yarmouk is the latest in a series of evacuation deals reached recently between the government and the rebels under a Russian mediation. ost of the recent evacuations are taking place with rebels who are still holding pockets in southern Damascus as three other towns are expected to witness evacuation of rebels and their families.

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