First phase of Syria evacuations ends after delay

The first phase of a troubled population transfer concluded on Friday as thousands of displaced Syrians were evacuated out of besieged areas and an agreement was reached to release hundreds of government detainees, government media and rebels said.

One of the largest evacuations in Syria's civil war had been tied to the fate of 26 hostages, including members of Qatar's ruling family, who had been held by a Shia militia in Iraq and were released on Friday.

Qatar, the patron of some Syrian armed opposition groups, was a main negotiator of the deal. Iran, which backs Iraqi and Lebanese fighters in Syria, served as the other negotiator.

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