Syrian rebels and families evacuated from southern Syria has arrived in country’s northwest

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Al Jazeera:  The first group of Syrian rebels and their families evacuated from southern Syria after a deal was struck with the government has arrived in the country’s northwest.

A total of 55 buses carrying rebel fighters and members of their families departed the strategic area in Quneitra province that adjoins the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Friday, Syria’s official SANA news agency said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said a first convoy of some 2,800 people had arrived on Saturday at the Morek transit point, in Hama province, which separates opposition from government-held areas.

The fighters and their families are expected to be transferred to buses run by local non-governmental organisations before continuing their journey to rebel areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Syrian forces, backed by a Russian air campaign, have been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following a relentless aerial bombardment campaign last month that aksi routed rebels in adjoining Deraa province.

Pro-government forces have recaptured 90 percent of the territory through similar surrender deals with the opposition whereby the latter agrees to also hand over medium to heavy weaponry.

On Saturday, Syrian state television announced pro-government forces had captured a string of villages in a zone extending between the two southwestern provinces.

Deraa city is seen as the birthplace of the Syrian uprising after protests in 2011 against the government’s torture of teenagers spread across the country.

The recent evacuation deal has left the Syrian government in control over large swaths of territory that straddle both provinces and border neighbouring Jordan and Israel.

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