Local agreements have increasingly become one of the Syrian government’s key strategies to force the opposition’s surrender. The agreements are presented by the government and its allies as a “reconciliation” effort, but, in reality, they come after prolonged unlawful sieges and bombardment and typically result not only in the evacuation of members of non-state armed groups but also in the mass displacement of civilians. In essence, the deals have enabled the government to reclaim control of territory by first starving and then removing inhabitants who rejected its rule. The population transfers on the now-infamous green buses have come to symbolise the dispossession and defeat.
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