Syrian paramedics tend to children inside an ambulance on the second night of an evacuation operation led by the Syrian Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late on Dec. 27, 2017. (AFP photo)
DAMASCUS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Another batch of kidnapped people as well as others with tough medical conditions were evacuated from the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region of the capital Damascus overnight, state news agency SANA said Thursday.
The evacuation is a part of a deal that demands the rebels to release pro-government detainees in exchange for the government approval to grant access to the people with hard medical conditions into the capital's hospitals.
SANA said 10 abductees were released Wednesday evening by the rebels including two children, a day after the release of the first batch of six kidnapped people from Eastern Ghouta.
The state news agency also said a number of patients from eastern Ghouta were taken to hospitals inside Damascus, stopping short of giving the exact number.
While activists blamed the government forces' siege on eastern Ghouta for the tough humanitarian situation, where 400,000 people are under siege, SANA blamed the rebels for the hard situation, saying the armed groups have taken the civilians inside Eastern Ghouta as "human shields."
The evacuation of the ill people from the Eastern Ghouta happened in cooperation between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
The spokesperson of the ICRC, Inji Sidki, told Xinhua Thursday that 12 ill people, mostly children, were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday evening.
She said that the evacuees have heart, blood, and other chronic diseases, adding that the families of the children accompanied them out of Eastern Ghouta.
She added that altogether 29 people with hard medical conditions will leave in batches as part of an ongoing process.
Eastern Ghouta has emerged as a stronghold for various strong rebel groups, mainly Jaish al-Islam, and other groups affiliated with al-Qaida such as the Levant Liberation Committee.
The area has been a launching pad for attacks on the capital and various battles have been launched by the army with the backing of airstrikes to quell the momentum of the rebel groups inside the sprawling area that contains several towns and agricultural terrains.