Aid workers on Tuesday evacuated nearly 200 people, including critically ill patients and relatives, from a suburb of Damascus after a weeklong assault in the area by Syrian regime forces that left hospitals in ruins. the health system severely degraded.
About two dozen patients on a list of around 1,000 people considered urgently in need of medical care were evacuated under the supervision of the United Nations by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, according to doctors and activists. They were being transferred to hospitals in Damascus along with around 170 of their relatives.
The evacuation was the first since December, when the President's Srian regime
allowed almost 30 patients to leave Ghouta under international pressure.
Nearly 400,000 civilians remain trapped in East Ghouta, a rebel enclave east of Damascus that has been under military and economic siege for the past five years. The regime, backed by the Russian army and foreign Shiite militias, intensified its offensive in February to retake the area in the midst of a bombing campaign that has driven residents into hiding.
Patients were evacuated on Tuesday from
The largest city of Ghouta, under a pause in airstrikes that was negotiated between Jaysh al-Islam, the rebel faction that controls the city, and Russia.
"An agreement was reached with the Russians through the United Nations … to evacuate the wounded in waves," said a statement released Monday by the rebel group. The statement did not say how long the pause would last or whether more patients would be allowed to leave Douma.
It was also unclear if the agreement would apply to other parts of Ghouta, where activists said air strikes continued on Tuesday.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations confirmed the evacuation but gave no details.
"This is like any other day, the bombing is relentless and casualties are high," said Amer Almohibany, a local activist. "Only civilians from the city of Douma are being evacuated."
The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has already largely regained control of much of the territory that once held rebel power. Taking Ghouta will allow him to further consolidate control of the capital and move towards his goal of ending the seven-year conflict by force.
A UN resolution for a 30-day ceasefire that passed unanimously last month had little effect on Assad, who has said that Ghouta's offensive is an effort to restore stability to the country.
The Syrian regime claims to fight the terrorists there, its standard term for the anti-government opposition, even thwarting UN efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the residents of Ghouta. Last week, it removed 70% of medical supplies, including trauma kits, in a US aid convoy. UU., According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
-Raja Abdulrahim in Beirut contributed to this article