Two thousand Syrian Islamist fighters are expected to be evacuated soon from besieged, rebel-held areas of southern Damascus in a deal brokered by the United Nations, a Hezbollah TV station said on Friday.

The besieged militants include fighters of Islamic State and the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s offshoot in Syria.

The deal marks a success for the government of President Bashar Assad, increasing its chances of reasserting control over a strategic area just 4 km (2.5 miles) south of the center of the capital.

It also highlights the increasing efforts of the UN and foreign governments to bring about local ceasefires and safe-passage agreements as steps towards the wider goal of ending Syria’s civil war, in which more than 250,000 people have been killed in nearly five years of fighting.

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