BEIRUT - More than 5,000 Syrian rebel fighters and their families boarded 77 buses on Sunday to wait to be taken from eastern Ghouta, Syrian state media said, in the second day of an evacuation from their former stronghold near the capital Damascus.
The main rebel group in the Arbeen pocket of eastern Ghouta, Failaq al-Rahman, reached a deal on Friday under which fighters agreed to surrender the enclave to the government and be transported to an opposition-held area in northwest Syria.
Around 1,000 fighters and their relatives left on Saturday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
After a month-long ground and air offensive and evacuation deals with Failaq al-Rahman and another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, pro-Syrian government forces control most of what had been a major rebel stronghold, just 15 km (9 miles) east of Damascus.
Before the recent offensive, the suburb had an estimated population of 400,000. It had been under siege by government forces since 2013 and only the town of Douma, the most populous part of eastern Ghouta, remains under rebel control.