TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Buses and ambulances entered the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, under siege from militants in northwest Syria, on Wednesday as part of an agreement to evacuate residents, a report said.

Syrian negotiators reached a deal to evacuate thousands of people from the two Shiite villages in return for the release of hundreds of detainees in state prisons, Syrian state TV said on Tuesday.

Foua and Kefraya in the northwestern province of Idlib are encircled by Takfiri terrorists. The militant-held towns of Zabadani and Madaya near the Lebanese border are under siege by Syrian government forces.

Foua and Kefraya are the only government-held enclave in Idlib’s militant-held area.

The towns of some 20,000 people have been under siege since 2013. The humanitarian situation remains dire, with a lack of food and basic necessities.