There’s been a major break-through and relief for residents of Daraya, a besieged suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus.
After four years of bombardments, being denied access to basic services and starvation, residents of Daraya as well as rebels began evacuating the town in the early hours of Friday, an operation expected to last between two to three days.
Around four thousand civilians and 700 fighters and their families will be taken to the town of Herjalleh in the Western Ghouta suburbs of Damascus and later move to places they choose.
The evacuation is part of a deal between the army and rebels to end one of the longest stand-offs since the Syrian conflict began.
The Syrian army encircled Darayya in 2012 and according to reports, just one aid delivery has reached the town since then.
After the evacuation, the army will enter the demolished city to gain control of it.
Twitter was abuzz with updates on the evacuation:
According to analysts, the withdrawal of rebels just a few miles from Damascus is a boost for President Bashar al-Assad’s authority.
Also part of the deal is for the rebels to surrender other armaments to the army.
The evacuation comes on the heels of a meeting on Syria between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
The meeting is to broker a temporary ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where fighting between government and rebel forces has escalated in recent weeks, leaving hundreds dead.