BEIRUT - Syrian rebels handed in their heavy weapons in a town southwest of Damascus, on Sunday, as part of a deal they have made with the government to get safe passage to insurgent-controlled areas, state-affiliated media said.
Through a series of so-called "settlement" agreements and army offensives, the Syrian government, backed by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, has been steadily suppressing armed opposition to its rule in the capital city's suburbs.
Rebels fighting President Bashar Assad and his government say the deals are part of a strategy to forcibly displace whole populations from opposition-held areas after years of siege and bombardment.
The United Nations estimates 12,000 people have been besieged in Khan al-Shih, where a Palestinian refugee camp is located, in the Damascus suburbs for years. The last month has seen heavy clashes and air strikes there, ending this week with the evacuation deal.