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Syrian rebels and Iran militias reach deal to evacuate villages: report

Syrian Rebels
Syrian rebels and Iranian-backed militia leaders have reached a deal to evacuate thousands of people from two rebel-besieged Shi’ite villages in northwest Syria in return for the release of hundreds of detainees in state prisons, opposition sources said, according to Reuters.
They said the negotiators from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel coalition spearheaded by Syria’s former al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had reached the secret deal, under which all residents would be evacuated from the mostly Shi’ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province.
“An initial agreement has been reached but talks are ongoing,” said an Islamist rebel source familiar with the secret negotiations that Turkey was also involved in and which builds on a deal reached last year that was never fully implemented.
In April 2017 thousands of people in the two Shi’ite towns were evacuated to government-held areas in a swap deal that in exchange freed hundreds of Sunnis living in former rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani that were then besieged by Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.
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