A picture taken on March 25, 2018 shows Syrian civilians gathering for their evacuation from the town of Arbin in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, following a deal with the regime. AFP / AMER ALMOHIBANY
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Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians were bused out of a second pocket of the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus Sunday after rebels agreed to leave several towns and villages after years of siege and weeks of heavy bombardment.Close to 900 people were evacuated from the southernmost of three Eastern Ghouta pockets Sunday, according to state-affiliated Al-Ikhbariya TV, following some 1,000 fighters, family members, and other civilians who departed late Saturday, as reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.Some 7,000 people left the town of Harasta, bound for Idlib.More than 1,600 people were killed in the five weeks that the government assaulted Eastern Ghouta, after holding it under siege since 2013, according to the Observatory.The Syrian government is giving rebels and male residents the choice of laying down their weapons and signing up for military conscription or leaving with their families to rebel-held territories elsewhere in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's forces were aiming to take the town of Tal Rifaat in north Syria, after Turkey and allied Syrian opposition forces captured the Afrin region from a Syrian Kurdish militia.Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper, quoting Syrian opposition commander Mohammad Shibil, said allied Syrian opposition forces were starting drills and preparations to oust the YPG.
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