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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Cairo gets 7 Egyptians out of Syria-controlled shelters

Arrangements were being made to fly them back home

People gather near tents at a camp supported by the Turkish Red Crescent for people who were forcibly displaced from Eastern Ghouta, near Al Bel village, Azaz city, north of Aleppo's countryside, Syria, on May 22, 2018. Mohammed Badra / EPA
People gather near tents at a camp supported by the Turkish Red Crescent for people who were forcibly displaced from Eastern Ghouta, near Al Bel village, Azaz city, north of Aleppo's countryside, Syria, on May 22, 2018. Mohammed Badra / EPA

Seven Egyptians were able to get out of shelters in Syria in areas now controlled by the regime, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The Egyptian embassy, in cooperation with the Syrian authorities, was able to secure their release from camps where thousands of people fleeing the Eastern Ghouta Damascus suburb were staying.

The ministry said one citizen left one shelter on Saturday, and another — along with his mother, sister, Syrian wife and children — left another shelter the same day.

Arrangements were being made to fly them back home.

The ministry added that it rescued another Egyptian family "from the area of military operations in Ghouta a few weeks ago”.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government lost swathes of territory to rebels early in the uprising but has since recaptured large parts of the country.

The regime used military pressure and population transfers to flush fighters and civilians out of territory around Damascus, most notably the Eastern Ghouta suburb, where an assault sparked a mass exodus from the shrinking rebels enclave.

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According to the UN, 50,000 people reached shelters in regime-controlled areas in the past week. The UN has condemned the “tragic” living condition of the displaced, who have been living in makeshift shelters.

Prior to the offensive, Ghouta's 400,000 residents had suffered five years of crippling regime siege that made food and medicine nearly impossible to access or afford.

Syria’s conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against the government but has since evolved into a civil war that has killed more than 350,000 people and triggered a staggering humanitarian crisis.