On 9 March 2018, the Syrian Arab Republic started evacuating members of the armed groups at Eastern Ghouta. They were evacuated by bus to Idleb, each with their personal arms but without their heavy weapons.

From 15 March 2018, those civilians who had been set free started to join up to the Syrian Arab Army. That day, about 12,000 people showed up to be registered. About 800 people on average are managing to leave every hour through the humanitarian corridor in Hamuriya, opened up by Damascus. Today, 16 March 2018, Damascus hopes to be able to save 13 000 people.

The entire evacuation process is under the control of the Russian Army; a unit of the Russian army’s infantry is present on the ground.

Just as happened when the townships of East Aleppo were being liberated, the government of the Syrian Arab Republic is providing urgent medical attention to all those civilians coming from the combat zone. These civilians are also being provided with temporary accommodation. The security services are trying to establish the identity of each civilian in order to block jihadi infiltration of the scheme.

We expect that around 200,000 more civilians exodusing East Ghouta - which has been under jihadi control for five years now - are taking refuge in Damascus. This poses serious logistical issues to accommodate them. As for the Western countries, they are helping the jihadists but not the Syrians that are loyal to the Republic.

For five years, it was as if the population of Ghouta was stuck in a prison, to which the jihadists alone held the key.

Anoosha Boralessa