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Smoke rises from buildings from air stricks on the border between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Smoke rises from buildings from air stricks on the border between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.  (AFP or licensors)

Pro-Assad villages evacuated in Syria

Preparations are underway to evacuate two towns in northern Syria, which have been besieged by rebels for the last three-years.

By Nathan Morley

The villages of al-Foua and Kefraya have remained loyal to President Assad. But now, as a long-time siege by insurgents tightens, its residents are being evacuated.

Around 6,000 people will leave the area on 88 buses in a deal brokered by rebels and Iranian-backed forces.

Reports suggest 1,800 rebel prisoners being held in Damascus are being released in exchange for the evacuation.

In a separate development, air strikes killed seven civilians on the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed were in Ain al-Tina in the Daraa province.

“Since yesterday morning, heavy Russian air strikes and barrel bombs dropped by the regime have been targetting an area straddling Quneitra and Daraa,” the Observatory said.

The conflict in Syria, which began in 2011, has left more than 350,000 people dead, and has now been raging longer than World War Two.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
18 July 2018, 14:42