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Thousands Expected To Leave Second Pocket In Syria's Ghouta

Syrian regime forces stand near buses while rebel fighters pray as they wait at the entrance of Harasta in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, on March 22.

Some 7,000 members of a Syrian rebel group and their relatives are preparing to leave eastern Ghouta to opposition-held areas north of the country as part of an agreement to evacuate the second of three pockets held by opposition fighters east of the capital, Damascus, Syria's state media reported.

The expected departure on March 24 comes a day after an agreement was reached between Faylaq al-Rahman, the second-most-powerful rebel group in eastern Ghouta, and the Russians to surrender the second of three pockets in eastern Ghouta, where rebels have been holding out over the past few years.

Early on March 24, bulldozers removed giant sand barriers from a main road in the town of Harasta that will be used by the rebels and their relatives on their way to the country's north.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said a corridor was being prepared for Faylaq al-Rahman members and their relatives to leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbeen, Ein Tarma, and Jobar.

The evacuations come after thousands left Harasta, the first pocket, after a similar deal for the evacuation of armed fighters and civilians.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP