DAMASCUS: Syria's government said it evacuated 5,000 residents of the town of Adra near the capital Damascus over the weekend, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.
"Thanks to the efforts of the Syrian army, the ministry of social affairs evacuated more than 5,000 residents of the town of Adra," SANA said late Sunday, saying the operation was on Saturday.
"They were trapped by terrorist groups and are now in a safe place," the agency added.
A military source cited by SANA said the army "was able to evacuate a large number of residents of Adra who had been trapped by armed terrorist groups who had terrorised them."
The Syrian government uses the term "terrorists" to refer to those seeking its overthrow.
It was not clear how the civilians had been trapped in the town.
Adra lies northeast of Damascus on a key road leading to the capital, and its industrial zone was attacked by rebel fighters and jihadists on December 11.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, at least 32 civilians were killed in the town by rebel fighters in the early stages of clashes with the army.
Most of those were from the Alawite sect that President Bashar al-Assad belongs to, the Observatory said. (AFP)