(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Sick and injured civilians left a rebel enclave in Syria's eastern Ghouta on Tuesday (March 13) under the first medical evacuation since a massive assault began nearly a month ago.
Men, women and children waited in the town of Douma for evacuation in Syrian Red Crescent buses.
Syrian government forces have captured swathes of eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farmland, splintering it into three separate zones in recent days.
For months, the United Nations has pleaded with authorities to allow the evacuation of hundreds of patients, including children with cancer. The Ghouta enclave is home to nearly 400,000 people, under army siege since 2013 without enough food, water, or medicine, the world body says.
Russia has offered rebels safe passage out with their families if they surrender the territory, echoing deals that saw Damascus take control of major cities across western Syria.
The two main Ghouta factions have vowed to stay and fight, and have denied government allegations that they have blocked residents from leaving.