Syrian rebels to leave key town of Harasta under E. Ghouta evacuation deal

Syrian rebels and their families are expected to leave a besieged town in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus on Thursday. The move is part of an evacuation deal that will see the town handed over to the government following years of siege. Rebels released 13 prisoners of war ahead of the evacuation, AP reported. The deal is the first such arrangement made for a town inside the beleaguered Eastern Ghouta enclave. State-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV cast the deal as a victory for the country, saying 10 buses had crossed into the town of Harasta to transport the “terrorists” to a rebel-held province in northern Syria. Some 6,000 civilians are expected to depart with the militants, some of whom are family members of the rebels.