Syrian rebels, families start leaving Damascus neighborhood


BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s state TV and an opposition monitoring group say hundreds of rebels and their families have begun boarding buses to leave a besieged rebel-held neighborhood of the capital, Damascus, under an agreement between the warring sides.

The evacuation from Damascus’ northeastern Barzeh neighborhood is the first such population movement in this area.

Over the past months, tens of thousands of people living in besieged areas around Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo — Syria’s largest city — have surrendered after prolonged sieges in exchange for safe relocation to opposition-held areas elsewhere in the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds are expected to leave Barzeh to head to the country’s north. It says around 1,500 are expected to leave on Monday and more stages will follow in coming weeks.