A number of designated buses entered the government-controlled towns of Kafriya and Al-Fu’ah in the northwest countryside of the province of Idlib while others arrived in the opposition-controlled towns of Al-Zabadani and Madaya in the western part of the province of Damascus to execute the mutual evacuation agreement between the government and opposition.
On 28 March, an agreement was reportedly brokered by Qatar and Iran for the evacuation of Al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in exchange for the evacuation of residents and rebels in Al-Zabadani and Madaya.
50 buses entered Al-Zabadani this morning with the goal of exiting 3,800 civilians and 150 militants from Al-Zabadani and Madaya while 96 buses entered Al-Fu’ah with the goal of evacuating between 8,000 and 9,000 civilians to several Syrian provinces.
The International Red Cross, the Syrian Red Crescent staff and the United Nations representatives were escorting buses.
According to opposition sources, the evacuation operation takes place alongside a prisoner exchange. 1,500 opposition members should be released from prisons and moved to Idlib. Additionally, humanitarian assistance to besieged areas like Al-Houla in Homs’s northern countryside should be allowed. Opposition sources declared that the pause in air strikes carried out by the Syrian and Russian Air Forces in Idlib’s countryside is also needed to gain the necessary mutual trust for the successful evacuation.
It is also apparent that HTS paused its attacks in northern Hama for the mean time whereas loyalist sources published pictures showing damages inflicted on the buses in Kafriya as a result of HTS shelling.
However, even though this incident may have hindered the evacuation, the treaty remains intact.