Hundreds of frightened Syrian civilians from two government-held towns under rebel siege are still stuck in in Rashidin, where 126 of their fellow travelers were killed by a car bomb on Saturday, 68 of them children, Naharnet reported Thursday.
Most of the victims had been evacuated from the Shiite-majority towns of Fuaa and Kafraya. An estimated 20 aid workers and rebel guards were killed as well.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, the delay is the result of last-minute rebel demands for the release of prisoners held in government prisons. Initially, this was supposed to be a straight exchange between endangered Shiite and Suni populations.
“The convoys will not move until after the release of 750 prisoners – men and women – from regime prisons and their arrival in rebel-held areas,” the UK-based Observatory reported.
The population exchange was resumed on Wednesday, with armed rebels standing guard at Rashidin, inspecting arriving vehicles.
All the rebels will be leaving the area, having been pushed back by government forces. Civilians in those areas, who are mostly Suni, are free to remain in their homes.
The evacuees from the rebel-held areas will be resettled in Idlib province, which is held by an opposition alliance and was the target of government nerve gas attack earlier this month.
In all, according to Naharnet, as many as 30,000 Syrians will have been transferred under the deal.