Groups of people evacuated from besieged Syrian towns were stranded outside the northern city of Aleppo on Thursday awaiting release of prisoners under a deal between the government and rebels, a watchdog said.

The evacuees left four towns in the north-western province of Idlib and near the capital Damascus on Wednesday as part of the swap agreement, which went into effect recently.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that under the deal, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has to release 750 prisoners, most of who are from Idlib.

“On Wednesday, buses carrying 3,000 people left the villages of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib and are now stranded in the area of al-Rashedeen on the outskirts of Aleppo,’’ the Observatory said.

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Some 300 people simultaneously evacuated from opposition areas near Damascus are waiting in the regime-controlled area of Ramousseh near Aleppo before they move to Idlib, which is mostly held by rebels.

On Saturday, over 100 people, mostly evacuees were killed in a car bombing in al-Rashedeen where they were stranded due to a brief dispute between the government and rebels.

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The evacuation agreement, brokered by Iran and Qatar, aimed to move mostly Sunni government opponents from the towns of Madaya and al-Zabadani near Damascus to Idlib.

The deal in return would see mainly Shiite government supporters moving to regime-held Aleppo.

Syria’s conflict began in 2011 with peaceful anti-government demonstrations and soon spiralled into an all-out civil war. (dpa/NAN)