Dozens of medical cases evacuated in Syria prisoner release deal

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it hoped to resume evacuations of critically ill people from Syria’s biggest remaining siege after bringing some individuals out of the area near Damascus on Wednesday.

The evacuation, which started late on Tuesday after a deal between Damascus and a rebel faction, involved letting some patients leave rebel-held eastern Ghouta in return for insurgents releasing detainees.

There were varying reports of how many people had been evacuated.

Syria’s state-run Ikhbariya television said on Thursday that 35 medical cases had been evacuated by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and 34 detainees held by the rebels released.

The ICRC said on Thursday 16 serious medical cases had been evacuated so far.

Although Eastern Ghouta is officially a “de-escalation zone” under Russian-led ceasefire deals for rebel territory, fighting there has continued.

The population, including 130 000 children, is suffering the worst malnutrition seen in the almost seven-year war, the United Nations says.