Fighting sides in Syria strike deal on fate of town, villages
Iran Press TV
Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:9PM
Syria's army and allied Lebanese resistance fighters of Hezbollah have come to an agreement with militants regarding the fate of a strategic southwestern town and two key villages, located in the country's northwest.
The agreement, reached under the supervision of the United Nations, enforces the withdrawal of militants from the border town of Zabadani, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the talks as saying on Thursday.
Situated about 12 kilometers (seven miles) from the Jdeida border crossing on the Damascus-Beirut highway, Zabadani is one of the last militant strongholds near the Lebanese border.
The Syrian army's control over the town would entirely cut off the supply lines used by the militants for transferring ammunition and forces into areas near the capital, Damascus, while it would also secure the highway.
The deal also envisioned the evacuation of civilians from the two Shia villages of Fuaa and Kefraya in Idlib Province.
The villages have been surrounded by an alliance of Takfiri militants, including terrorists of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The agreement would be implemented within six months, during which time there would be an extended ceasefire in the three key areas. Evacuation of those wounded from both sides would begin on Friday.
The ceasefire took effect at noon on September 20, following an agreement between the Syrian government forces and its allied fighters and militants.
Conflict grinding into the fifth year
The conflict in Syria is in its fifth year. It has reportedly claimed more than 240,000 lives up until now.
The United Nations says the militancy has displaced more than 7.2 million Syrians internally, and compelled over four million others to take refuge in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.
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