January 20, 2016 / 5:56 PM / 4 years ago

Families return to Damascus suburb under local ceasefire - monitor

A rebel fighter walks in Babila town, during what activists said was a new ceasefire between forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad and rebel fighters in the towns of Babila and Beit-Sahm in southeast Damascus January 14, 2015, REUTERS/Stringer

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Around 4,000 people returned to a neighbourhood in the south of Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday as part of a local ceasefire agreed more than a year ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian state news agency said 500 families had returned to the al-Qadam neighbourhood, where a ceasefire between the government and insurgents was agreed in August 2014. One of the conditions was that residents should be allowed to return to their homes after infrastructure had been rebuilt.

The truce had called for the complete withdrawal of the Syrian army from the district, with army checkpoints at its entrances only.

The Observatory said their return had nothing to do with a separate agreement by which members of the Islamic State group and their families were due to leave the same district on Wednesday. This has yet to happen.

The Syrian government has made numerous local ceasefire agreements over the course of the five-year-long conflict.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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