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First batch of 5,000 Syrians evacuating war-torn town of Daraya, under a new deal

Preparations started on Friday morning for the evacuation in batches that was expected to last four days

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In this handout provided by the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Residents wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk refugee camp on January 31, 2014 in Damascus, Syria. The United Nations renewed calls for the Syria regime and rebels to allow food and medical aid into the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. An estimated 18,000 people are besieged inside the camp as the conflict in Syria continues. (Photo by United Nation Relief and Works Agency via Getty Images). Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Damascus, August 27, 2016: The first batch of Syrians on Friday started to leave the besieged town of Daraya under the new deal that allows evacuation of rebel fighters and civilians.

Military vehicles were waiting to escort the buses out of the city, whose landscape is similar to those in the movies depicting the Armageddon, or the doom’s day, Xinhua reported.

Ambulances, as well as convoys from the Syrian Red Crescent, were waiting at a government-held area of the town to evacuate 4,000 civilians and some 700 rebels.

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Preparations started on Friday morning for the evacuation in batches that was expected to last four days, sources said.

Map of Daraya, Syria. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Map of Daraya, Syria. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The evacuation is part of a deal reached on Thursday between the armed rebels and the government army, which allows over 4,000 civilians to be evacuated to displacement shelters in government-controlled areas.

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Meanwhile, 700 rebels will hand over their heavy and medium weapons and move to the northwestern province of Idlib, a stronghold for the rebels’ Jaish al-Fateh, state news agency SANA reported. (IANS)

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Quitting Militancy by Kashmiri Footballer Regarded as ‘Brave’ by the Army

Majid Khan, a young Kashmiri footballer has given up militancy to pursue academics and passion for football, leaving the Kashmirs stunned over his decision

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Kashmiri Footballer
Kashmiri Footballer quits militancy.Pixabay.

Jammu and Kashmir, November, 17: Majid Khan, a young Kashmiri footballer whose decision to join the LeT stunned Kashmirs, has given up militancy, the Army announced on Friday, with the 20-year-old making a brief appearance at a press conference here.

Amid conflicting reports whether Majid Khan had surrendered or was caught, Major General B.S. Raju said: “The brave young man, Majid Khan, the Kashmiri footballer decided on his own to shun violence and returned to lead a normal life, pursuing his academics and passion for football.”

The Army, he said, merely facilitated his decision.

“He was neither apprehended nor did he surrender. We only facilitated his return,” Gen Raju said, providing no details about how Majid made contact with the family or the security agencies.

Majid, wearing a black Kashmiri phiran, made a brief presence before journalists. But the kashmiri footballer did not speak and was quickly escorted out of the venue by a police officer.

Gen Raju complimented his parents, especially the mother, whose persuasion he said helped the young man to change his mind.

Majid’s mother’s passionate and wailing appeal to her only son to return home went viral on social media — just like Majid’s earlier photographs showing him with an AK-47.

Gen Raju, who commands the Army’s Victor Force, which oversees all anti-military operations in southern Kashmir, urged other Kashmiri youths to also give up militancy.

“Those youths who have strayed and have committed no crime are welcome to come back and no action will be taken against them. I appeal also to those who might have committed some crime to return within the parameters of law.”

The Kashmir Valley’s police chief, Muneer Khan, said no charges would be pressed against Majid and he would be allowed to join his family.

Army sources had earlier said that Majid, a second year college student, surrendered after walking into a Rashtriya Rifles camp at Kulgam on Thursday evening. He came with his arms and ammunition.

The sources added that he was handed over to Army’s 15 Corps in Awantipora town.

There was a sense of relief among Majid’s friends and relatives when they learnt that he had crossed back — into safer hands.

Kashimiri footballer
Army appreciates Kashimiri footballer, Majid Khan’s decision to quit militancy. IANS.

“It is great to hear that he will be now serving his parents and pursuing his passion about football,” a relative who did not wish to be named told IANS.

The relative said Majid was the only son of his parents, who were shocked when they came to know that he had joined the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is active in the Kashmir Valley.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “A mother’s love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring kashmiri footballer, back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most.”

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said: “It is a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed. (IANS)