The Syrian government has evacuated more than 5,000 people from an embttled industrial town near the capital Damascus. There, rebels linked to al-Qaeda have been battling government troops for more than two weeks. They are just some of thousands of civilians evacuated from conflict zones every week.
This old man is no ordinary sick person. He is one of thousands who were given safe passage last October out of Al-Moadamiya - a suburb southwest of the Syrian capital Damascus - after fighting in that area trapped them for months.
The Syrian government has evacuated more than 5,000 people from an embttled industrial town near the capital Damascus.
"We were so hungry that we ate leaves and grass. There are no components for life inside. Unless you join the fighters you won’t have any income or survive." said Syrian civilian.
"I feel like I am reborn. We left death behind and thank God.” said Syrian civilian.
Getting civilians out of areas where there is heavy fighting is dangerous work that required delicate negotiation by non-belligerents."We mediated between the militants inside and the government to allow the civilians out. the evacuation went through because the women wanted to get their children out and pressured the gunmen. the families left and those who wish to fight can go on fighting." said Mother Agnes Mariam De La Croix, Evacuation Coordinator.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent - and the Syrian Ministry of Social Affairs - provided logistical support for the evacuation.
Shortly after some three thousand civilians - mostly women and children - got out of Al-Moadamiya, the Syrian army made substantial gains inside city, eventually reaching a rebel stronghold. The rebels surrendered and life in the city became tolerable again.
Not all evacuations go as smoothly. Here in the city of Adra - a city of 20 thousand people in the southern part of Syria - thousands fled the city after Islamist rebels reportedly executed dozens of civilians in December.
Many of the victims were supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose forces later evacuated around five thousand people from Adra.
"The militants took my two brothers, one of my uncles, and my aunt was taken from the house." said Syrian civilian.
"The gunmen stormed the city and took many young men and killed them. We were starving and begged them for food and they told us go eat dirt." said Syrian civilian.
"They ate our food and locked us up, they also have two of my children and they took my cars, two 1985 FIAT vans." said Syrian civilian.
The lines of refugees stretched for miles-men , women and children. They left their homes - taking with them only possessions they could carry - not knowing whether they will ever return.
Civilians trapped by the fighting are often regarded as collateral damage. The extent of the fighting in Syria has left very few safe areas. Many fear that a further expansion of the war will exact a devastating toll-as civilians are now running out of places to seek refuge.
- Editor:Cherry | Source: Agencies
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