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UN, Red Crescent Evacuate 500 From Besieged Syrian Towns

Fighters from a coalition of rebel groups called "Army of Fatah" and members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent stand near buses and ambulances on the outskirts of Idlib city, preparing to enter the two besieged Shi'ite towns of al-Foua and Kefraya to evacu

The United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have evacuated 500 people from besieged areas in Syria.

The group included sick and wounded people in need of medical care, as well as their families.

They were evacuated Wednesday from Madaya and Zabadani in southwestern Syria near the Lebanon border, as well as al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province near the border with Turkey.

Pro-government forces have been blockading Madaya and Zabadani, while rebel fighters are responsible for the sieges in al-Foua and Kefraya.

A cessation of hostilities in Syria has allowed the U.N. and aid agencies to bring some humanitarian relief to hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in besieged areas across the country. But officials have complained about the Syrian government restricting access and stealing some of the supplies.

Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, 4.8 million people have fled the country, and the U.N. says 13.5 million who are still there are in need of humanitarian assistance.

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