Russia says over 105,000 civilians have left Syria’s Ghouta

Rebels stand together as they wait to be evacuated, outisde Harasta in eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 23, 2018. (Reuters pic)

MOSCOW: Russia’s Defence Ministry said more than 105,000 people have left Syria’s Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave, including another 700 on Saturday since government forces began an assault to retake it a month ago, RIA news agency reported, citing the military.

RIA referred to evacuations taking place during “humanitarian pauses”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally in the conflict, ordered daily five-hour ceasefires and the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” to allow civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta.

In the event, the offensive – among the fiercest of the seven-year civil war – was largely carried out in defiance of international pleas to halt and honour a truce, and about 90 percent of eastern Ghouta is back under government control.