BEIRUT: Hundreds of families of ISIS militants and some wounded fighters are expected to leave rebel-held areas in southern Damascus under a U.N.-brokered deal, activists said on Thursday.
Rami Abdulraham, head of the U.K.-based Observatory for Human Rights, said safe passage would be given from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus and neighboring Hajar al-Aswad.
The families and some fighters will be taken to the ultra-hardline militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria and other ISIS-controlled areas over several months, ultimately ending the group’s presence in areas near the Syrian capital.
ISIS has had a significant foothold in Hajar al-Aswad, just a few kilometers from President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.
Syrian minister for national reconciliation Ali Haidar told Reuters efforts were under way to get militants out of the Yarmouk camp but gave no details.
Several local ceasefires and safe-passage agreements have been concluded elsewhere in Syria recently. One, brokered with support from Iran and Turkey, halted fighting in the town of Zabadani on the Lebanese border, and in two villages in the northwest.
A deal was also reached in the last rebel-held district of the Syrian city of Homs that allowed rebels and their families to leave the besieged area. The U.N. said the agreement could help pave the way for a nationwide truce.