On July 18, ten ambulances carrying injured and sick civilians departed the besieged towns of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya, in the eastern Idlib countryside, towards the city of Aleppo, according to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV. Earlier today, more than 120 buses and ambulances entered the two towns.
Syrian pro-government activists said that more than 6,500 fighters of the National Defense Forces (NDF) and civilians will be evacuated from the two towns in the upcoming hours under an agreement, which was reached two days ago. As a part of the same agreement, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) will also release dozens of women and children who were captured by its fighters during Idlib offensive in 2015.
Abdullah al-Hassan, an official of HTS, told the HTS-linked news network Iba’a that the Damascus government will release more than 1,500 civilians from its jails in exchange for the evacuation of the besieged civilians in al-Fu’ah and Kafriya. Al-Hassan added that 41 fighters of HTS who were captured by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah in previous battles will be also released.
While the agreement will put an end to the suffering of the civilians in al-Fu’ah and Kafriya, many local observers fear that HTS may change the demography of the two towns. Several HTS-linked activists had said that the radical group will allow its foreign fighters to live the houses of the displaced civilians.