A first convoy of buses carrying members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their families arrived in Syria’s Al-Bab district on Friday, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground.
Under a deal struck between armed opposition groups and the Syrian regime late last month, FSA fighters and their dependents were allowed to leave parts of the Yarmouk refugee camp near the capital Damascus.
On Friday, evacuees reached the Al-Bab district, which falls within the area-of-operations of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield.
The 31 buses carrying 1,643 FSA members and their families were accompanied by three ambulances and eight empty buses.
A total of 17,000 people are eventually expected to be evacuated from the Yarmouk camp under the terms of the agreement.
Located eight kilometers south of Damascus and inhabited mostly by Palestinian refugees, the Yarmouk camp sits on 16 square kilometers of land.
While the FSA reportedly controls roughly seven square kilometers of the camp’s eastern region, the Daesh terrorist group is said to control eight square kilometers of the western part of the camp.
For the past five years, the Yarmouk camp has remained under siege by the Assad regime and Iran-backed militia groups. In Daesh-controlled parts of the camp, some 2,500 families — most of them Palestinians — struggle to survive.
Roughly 100,000 people are believed to reside in FSA-controlled parts of the camp.
After seizing Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, last month, regime forces advanced on the Yarmouk camp, where they reportedly killed dozens of Palestinian refugees.
In another deal inked April 29, the Syrian regime and Tahrir al-Sham, an armed opposition group, agreed to evacuate parts of the camp controlled by the latter.
The regime, meanwhile, has continued to carry out attacks on parts of the camp still held by Daesh.