On June 1, more than 500 civilians returned from the opposition-held areas in the northern governorate of Idlib to their villages and towns in the southeastern Idlib countryside and the southwestern Aleppo countryside through the Abu Duhur crossing, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
These civilians were displaced from their villages and towns as a result of the battle for the Abu Duhur airbase, which took place between October 9, 2017 and February 13, 2018. Back then, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies carried out a successful operation against ISIS and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in this area.
One of the civilians who returned to his village “Umm Tamakh” in the southwestern Aleppo countryside told SANA that terrorists had forced him and his family to flee towards the opposition-held areas in Idlib, where they had suffered from dreadful conditions.
The Damascus government and the UN provided the returned civilians with medical care via several mobile clinics. According to Syrian pro-government activists, the government will also work with the UN to provide the locals with public services and humanitarian aid in the upcoming days.
Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to establish a de-escalation zone in southeastern Idlib and southwestern Aleppo during the Astana talks. Last month, Russian forces established an observation post there and opened the Abu Duhur crossing to facilitate the return of the displaced civilians under the agreement.
Locals observers believe that more civilians will return to their villages and towns in this new de-escalation zone in the upcoming months.