• Thousands of people have begun leaving the last rebel-held neighbourhood in Syria's capital Damascus (AAP)
Thousands of people have begun leaving the last rebel-held neighbourhood in Syria's capital Damascus.
Source:
AAP
15 May - 9:44 AM  UPDATED 15 May - 9:46 AM

Hundreds of rebels and their families have begun leaving a northeastern neighbourhood of Damascus and heading toward rebel-held areas in northern Syria, in another step that would eventually bring all parts of the capital under the control of President Bashar Assad's forces, state media and opposition activists say.

The evacuations on Sunday from Qaboun came a day after government forces and their allies captured most of the area from insurgents who had maintained a presence in the northeastern neighbourhood for four years.

After government forces took control of Barzeh and Tishrin last week and with the expected capture of Qaboun in the coming hours or days, the capital Damascus will be fully clear of rebels for the first time since 2012.

The eastern neighbourhood of Jobar will be left in rebel hands but is considered an extension of the eastern suburbs of Damascus known as eastern Ghouta.

Government forces have been on the offensive for months in an attempt to capture the remaining rebel-held Damascus neighbourhoods.

Syrian state TV said some 2200 people from the Damascus neighbourhoods boarded several buses on Sunday and left toward the northwestern province of Idlib.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 2300 people, including about 1100 fighters, have left Qaboun adding that more buses are being sent to the area "to empty" the neighbourhood from opposition fighters on Sunday.

The Observatory and al-Dimashqi said a group of gunmen inside Qaboun opened fire at rebels as they were boarding the buses, killing at least two and wounding several others.

No immediate reason was given for the shooting but the Observatory said the gunmen were followers of a Qaboun-based arms dealer.