PRICE OF FREEDOM: Fifty families left the rebel-held, besieged city of Douma in the east Damascus suburbs for Damascus Monday, after 30 families were allowed to leave the day before, reported local pro-opposition website Ghouta Now.
It was not immediately clear why the government allowed the families to leave, but activists said official Syrian news outlets were present at the checkpoints to document their departure.
Above, families gather in a shelter in the regime-controlled Dhahiya Qudsiya neighborhood in East Damascus after exiting Ghouta.
The operation occurred after the regime ran security checks on all potential candidates to leave, Abdul Haq Hamam, a citizen journalist in the city, told Syria Direct Tuesday.
Douma residents said the regime’s operation, though billed as humanitarian, was anything but.
Families with young men were permitted to exit for free, while those composed only of women had to pay 100,000 Syrian pounds (roughly $580), per person, Fuad a-Doumani, the alias of a Douma resident who was among those let out over the past two days, told Syria Direct Tuesday.
After the families reached the refuge centers in Dhahiya Qudsiya, the young men were detained for 48 hours, and those who were wanted for mandatory military service were sent off, a-Doumani added.
Another Douma resident corroborated the activist’s account of bribes in return for leaving Douma.
One man whose relatives left roughly a month ago said that they were required to pay 1,000,000 Syrian pounds, or a few thousand dollars, per person to those staffing the checkpoints in order to exit safely.
In related news, the regime allowed 150 families to exit the East Ghouta town of Zebdine on November 21, only for a sniper to kill one women and wound another woman and child from the departing families, reported pro-opposition Syria Mubasher News.
Following that incident, opposition forces stopped additional families from exiting Zebdine.
-November 25, 2014
-Photo courtesy of Damascus al-An.
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