Rebels pray before they are evacuated from the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
AMMAN - 9 April 2018: The first batch of freed hostages from rebel-held Syrian city of Douma arrived on Sunday at an army-controlled crossing in the first phase of a far-reaching deal to evacuate thousands of rebels to northern Syria, state media's live footage showed.
A Russian sponsored deal sealed on Sunday gives safe passage to rebels out of their last bastion near Damascus in return for rebel group Jaish al Islam releasing hundreds of hostages and prisoners of war.
In parallel with the first batch of hostages, a bus carrying dozens of fighters and their families left the besieged enclave enroute to opposition-held areas in northern Syria in an arrangement expected to be completed within several days.