Thousands of residents of Syria's Idlib headed home within 48 hours of a deal being announced to avoid a regime offensive to retake the province, AFP reported Wednesday (September 19th).
As airstrikes intensified earlier this month, the threat of a Russian-backed assault had prompted thousands of civilians to flee areas near the front line.
But many headed home after a deal was reached between Russia and opposition-backer Turkey to create a demilitarised buffer zone along the front line, as the first step in a wider settlement, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Around 7,000 people have returned to their towns and villages since the announcement of the deal on Monday, especially in the southeast of Idlib and the north of (neighbouring) Hama," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The UN has given cautious backing to the Russian-Turkish agreement.
"We are engaging with all parties involved for more information and how this can be used to allow us to further access people in need," UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Syria Ali al-Zaatari said Wednesday.