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500 civilians evacuated from besieged Syrian town

30 october 2013, 17:27
Some 500 women, children and elderly civilians trapped in the besieged town of Moadamiyet al-Sham, southwest of Damascus, have been evacuated, AFP reports citing activists.

Supervised by the Red Crescent, the civilians were escorted from the Syrian rebel town on Tuesday, in coordination with the Damascus regime.

"The Red Crescent has evacuated 500 civilians" from Moadamiyet al-Sham, opposition activists in the town reported via Facebook.

"All sides, without exception, took part (in the evacuation), including the opposition as represented by the National Coalition, the regime... and the international community," they said.

Rebel-held Moadamiyet al-Sham has been under a suffocating army siege for nearly a year.

Rights groups and activists have reported widespread malnutrition in the town, particularly among children, because of a total blockade on the entry of food and other vital goods.

The army shells Moadamiyet al-Sham daily, and clashes rage on its outskirts.

The town was the scene of one of the army's chemical attacks near Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of people.

Activists in the town issued a statement saying they would have preferred humanitarian assistance to be brought in instead, "but we did not have a choice".

The civilians who have left the town have now joined the millions of internally displaced people in Syria's conflict.

They are being moved to "camps set up by the regime in the outskirts of Qudsaya (near Damascus), in coordination with the Red Crescent," said the activists.

Tuesday's evacuation was the second operation of its kind since October 12, when 3,000 civilians were taken out on buses.

The opposition and UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos have both called for humanitarian corridors into Moadamiyet al-Sham.

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