Rebel fighters and their families arrive in Idlib from Quneitra


Following the ceasefire deal between the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated Southern Front and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies in the southern province of Quneitra, fighters and their families are being evacuated to the northern province of Idlib.

An estimated 2,000 people have been evacuated from the southern province of Quneitra to the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria. The evacuation, which consists of fighters that were formerly members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated Southern Front, in addition to their families, was carried out over the weekend and in the latter half of last week using 53 buses. The evacuation has come as a result of a Russian-brokered surrender agreement between the Southern Front and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.

“Some of those on the buses were given assistance when transferred frm the town of Qalaat al-Madiq to the Murak crossing [into Idlib Province],” said one of the coordinators of the evacuation. “Relief and medical organisations have tried their best to provide assistance to our families by providing some meals or emergency services. The families will be transferred to temporary shelters in the northern countryside of Idlib.”

Aid workers and local volunteers were on hand to meet the arrival of the evacuated fighters and their families, who were all offered food and medical care. Moreover, the province’s aid workers have assisted in coordinating housing for the new arrivals. They are likely to be housed in temporary camps that have been set up by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the northern region of Idlib Province.

“We are the civil defence teams working in Hama,” said a member of the Syrian Civil Defence that received the new arrivals. “We have equipped buses for the transfer of Daraa and Quneitra’s displaced people. We have prepared meals and ambulances to transport those who have been wounded coming from the south.”

The surrender and evacuation of rebel fighters and their families from Quneitra follows a series of earlier surrender deals between the SAA and the Southern Front in the neighbouring Daraa Province. An estimated 1200 people have so far been evacuated from Daraa Province to Idlib Province over the past three weeks. Following the SAA’s capture of the town of Na’wa in Daraa, which represented the administrative centre for the Opposition, the presence of rebel fighters in the southern province has effectively been brought to an end.