Damascus, March 18: Some 30,000 civilians have evacuated Syria’s rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area on the outskirts of capital Damascus, according to a local media report. The SA news report said mass evacuation took place on Saturday night through two crossings, one in Hamouriyeh and the other near the Water Resources facility in Harasta. The evacuation is ongoing and is the latest in a series of mass evacuations that began in Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported. Earlier on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that 50,000 civilians have evacuated Eastern Ghouta over the past 72 hours. Since an escalation of violence in Eastern Ghouta on February 18, a total of 1,394 civilians, including 271 minors and 173 women, have been killed, according to the SOHR.
The Syrian army said it had captured 70 per cent of Eastern Ghouta, after splitting the area into sections to facilitate the battle against various rebel groups there. Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighbourhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.
Four major rebel groups are currently positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, mely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham and the Levant Liberation Committee. (IANS)