Nearly 5,000 rebels, their family members leave Syria's Eastern Ghouta

A man walks with his bicycle at a damaged site in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 30, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh)

A total of 4,849 rebels and their families departed the Syrian capital's Eastern Ghouta countryside on Friday night, according to the state news agency SANA.

They are the seventh and latest batch of evacuees leaving areas in the central part of Ghouta, including 1,485 rebels, toward rebel-held areas in the northern Syrian province of Idlib.

A day earlier, 7,003 evacuees left the area, including 1,234 rebels with the rest being their family members, who chose to head toward rebel-held areas in the north, under a deal reached recently between the Syrian government and the rebels with the mediation of Russia.

Since the evacuation began last Saturday, there have been over 170,000 rebels and their families, as well as other civilians, evacuating the Eastern Ghouta area, according to estimates accumulated from official media reports.

The Russian-backed Syrian army has advanced and captured 90 percent of that region.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital.

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, also known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.