BEIRUT – Civilians suffering serious illness were being evacuated from a besieged rebel-held region near the Syrian capital Damascus, the International Committee of the Red Cross said early Wednesday.
On its Twitter account, the ICRC said the medical evacuations started in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday evening and posted two photos showing its ambulances, providing no further details.
The Syrian Red Crescent, which also took part in the operation, stated that the evacuees were being transferred from Eastern Ghouta to hospitals in Damascus, following long negotiations backed by its president Khaled Hboubati and the International Federation of Red Cross’ president Francesco Rocca.
Meanwhile, the Syrian American Medical Society said in a statement that four of the 641 civilians who are in urgent need of help had been evacuated overnight.
SAMS added that 29 critical cases had been approved for transfer to hospitals in Damascus.
They include 18 children and four women suffering from “heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, and blood diseases, in addition to cases requiring advanced surgery that are not available in the besieged area,” according to SAMS.
Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for several years.