Syrian Evacuation Deal

A few days ago, an evacuation deal had been reached in Syria between the government and the rebels. The deal was for the transfer of residents of two rebel-held towns in exchange for moving rebel fighters and civilians out of two Syrian towns, namely Zabadani and Madaya, both of which are near Damascus. These two towns are besieged by the army of the Syrian president and the Hezbollah. Residents leaving were supposed to have been taken to government-held areas in the neighbouring Aleppo province.

However, many reports suggest that many people are not happy with the move, as they were essentially being told to abandon their childhood homes to go into the unknown place by an unstable government. For two years they lived under siege, hunger, airstrikes, as well as the cold and the rain, and they ended up with being displaced. Fifty buses entered the two towns while one hundred buses and 20 ambulances went to Fouaa and Kefraya on Thursday, April 13th. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the UK-based monitoring group, said at least 2,100 residents, including rebel fighters, were due to be evacuated from Zabadani and Madaya. The deal was brokered by Iran and Qatar and should see more than 10,000 people being evacuated and hundreds of prisoners exchanged.

Reports from Sunday, April 16th, however, say that the evacuation convoy was targeted, and the blast killed at least 126 people, including 68 children. The explosion happened on Saturday, April 15th in Rashidin, west of Aleppo, and it targeted residents who were bound for evacuation from the rebel-held towns of Fouaa and Kefraya in the Idlib province. The SOHR reports that the actual number killed was 126 and not the previously reported number of 112. While there is still no confirmation as to the source of the blast, state media reported that a “suicide bomber” allegedly used a van meant for carrying aid supplies to gain entry into the area. The SOHR has seemed to confirm these reports since it reported that the explosion came from a vehicle-born improvised explosive device.

Ahrar al-Sham, a key rebel group in the North of Syria said the attack was “cowardly.” It also said that many of its members were killed in the blast and that it was willing to cooperate with an international probe in order to determine the cause of it all.

While it is still unclear as to what happened, the parties involved in brokering the deal should put in more effort to ensure that such incidences do not happen again in the future, as these are a delicate people, who are sitting on a precipice. With that said, one never knows what they might do if pushed too hard, as they might choose to join either side of the war or simply choose their own side with their own beliefs. There is nothing more dangerous than a believer for they can lay their lives down for a cause that they believe in. Therefore, the bottom line is that there needs to be more effort in protecting these people, who are leaving their homes before they lose whatever little hope they have left.

Ferdinand Bada
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