Women and children are among the first major group of Syrian civilians evacuated from the rebel-held areas in the war-torn Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Syrian capital Damascus, on March 13, 2018. (Xinhua/Hummam Sheikh Ali)
DAMASCUS, March 13 (Xinhua) -- A total of 146 civilians on Tuesday left the rebel-held areas in Syrian capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside.
The civilians, including people with medical conditions and children, reached the government-controlled Wafidin area in northeast of Damascus through a humanitarian corridor set up between Wafidin and the rebel-held Douma district in Eastern Ghouta.
A military source told Xinhua that among the civilians who left the area included 44 women, 24 men and 87 children.
It is the first major civilian convoy to leave that area since the corridor was set up 14 days ago for the evacuation of civilians after a Russian-backed humanitarian pause went into force.
The civilians were taken to a temporary shelter at a school in the Wafidin area and the children were vaccinated immediately.
A Xinhua reporter at the site saw children with skin disses at the shelter.
The government has for long called for the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta, accusing the rebels of hindering the process.
More groups of civilians are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.
Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to the government-controlled neighborhoods in east of Damascus which often come under rebel mortar attacks.
Four major rebel groups are currently positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
UN humanitarian agencies have sounded alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation for 400,000 people in that region. Activists said over 1,000 people have been killed since late last month by the heavy bombardment and military conflict in Eastern Ghouta.