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1st bus of released abductees reaches Syrian army position near Damascus
Last Updated: 2018-04-09 08:00 | Xinhua
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SYRIA-EASTERN GHOUTA-ISLAM ARMY-KIDNAPPED-EVACUATION

Buses to evacuate militants of the Islam Army as well as the kidnapped people enter the Wafideen area near Douma, northeast of Damascus, Syria, on April 8, 2018. The Islam Army rebels will evacuate the Douma district east of Damascus and release the kidnapped people under a new deal reached Sunday with the Syrian government forces, state TV reported. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)

The first bus transporting the released people from rebels' captivity in Syria's Douma reached the Syrian army position near the capital Damascus on Sunday, state TV reported.

The bus reached Wafideen area northeast of the capital, transporting people kidnapped by the Islam Army in Douma, the last rebel-held area in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta.

A live coverage showed the civilians in the first bus to reach Wafideen area with soldiers chanting and celebrating their release.

The release of kidnapped people from Douma is the priority of the Syrian army in a deal reached Sunday for the evacuation of the Islam Army rebels and their families in exchange for the release of the kidnapped civilians.

The released people will be taken to the Faiha stadium in Damascus to celebrate their release after four years of captivity in rebels' prisons in Douma.

"With soul and blood, we sacrifice for you Bashar," the soldiers at the Wafideen area chanted for President Bashar al-Assad.

It's the first batch of thousands of kidnapped people to be released from Douma as thousands more are expected in other batches.

Most of those civilians have been kidnapped when the rebels stormed the Adra Omaliyeh town near Damascus in 2013.

In an earlier report, the state TV said a total of 40 buses transporting rebels of the Islam Army and their families as well as kidnapped people are ready to leave Douma district toward the adjacent Wafideen area.

The families of the kidnapped people have been waiting at Wafideen for days.

The fresh agreement between the Islam Army and the Syrian government under the mediation of Russia is the second to be reached recently after the rebels' failure to live up to their previous pledges to leave Douma toward Jarablus and release the kidnapped people.

After 2,963 rebels of Islam Army and their families evacuated Douma on three batches earlier this month, the fourth batch didn't leave as planned on Friday, with the state media in Syria saying the conflict among the Islam Army commanders was the reason.

Recent estimates placed the number of the militants who will evacuate Douma at 8,000 and their families at 40,000.

The agreement on Sunday was reached also after the Syrian army unleashed a wide-scale offensive against Douma after the failure of the first deal as the Islam Army rebels halted their evacuation and rejected to leave Douma.

The full evacuation of the rebels and their families from Douma will be last the evacuation of Eastern Ghouta, as the entire region has been captured by the Syrian army after 43,000 rebels and their families left other areas of Eastern Ghouta late last month.

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