Can the Growing Number of Government-Rebel Reconciliation Agreements End the Bloodshed in Syria?
Al-Moaddamiyeh, Damascus Countryside, Syria. By Franklin Lamb.
September 8, 2016 was a long hot tense day at the border-crossing at al-Moaddamiyeh, at town roughly ten kilometers southwest of Damascus. Approximately 135 Syrian soldiers and 35 volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) evacuated more than 300, mainly civilians, who have spent the past more than four years trapped, two years in Daraya and nearly three next door in al-Moaddamiyeh. Several reporting that sometimes they had nothing to eat but grass.
[Photo Above: The gentleman above with his family of four daughters fought the Syrian army hard for nearly five years. While apprehensive to say the least, he claims to be a moderate and that Islam had nothing to do with his participation in the fighting. He is willing to give up his fight, board a bus to the Harjalleh area settlement facility south of Damascus and work on getting his children in school when classes start late this month. If he succeeds it will be for the first time in four years any of his lovely children have attended school. (Photo: Paola Nurnberg 9/8/2016)]
The evacuation was the latest one agreed to between rebel forces and the Syrian government and implemented according to President Assad's Amnesty Decree no. 15 issued on July 28, 2016. Another 700 were evacuated from nearby Daraya per a similar agreement achieved on August 25. At least half of dozen similar evacuations from rebel areas are reportedly being negotiated between rebels and the government.
Many of the more than 303 evacuees from the rebel area, a majority being young children who appeared weak, frightened and dazed, waited nearly four to five hours or more to board the waiting buses for the makeshift center set up for them in Harjalleh area in Damascus countryside where in addition to being housed, they will receive medical care and given relief supplies. They will be free to go and come to their new shelters as they wish.
[Photo Above: Thirty-five Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) volunteers were of critical help to many of the emaciated countrymen boarding SARCS busses with their life possessions moving to the south Damascus resettlement area. (Photo: Franklin Lamb (9/8/2016)]
Among those leaving al-Moaddamiyeh were 62 rebel fighters, a few of whom this observer spoke freely with and who opted to settle their legal status with the government per decree No. 15, noted above. The ceasefire is a bitter landmark for many of the young men pictured below. Some protested as early as 2011 and have fought in the "revolution" until now.