Reuters International

Smoke rises from the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, before rebels and residents start being evacuated under an agreement reached on Thursday between rebels and Syria's army, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations voiced concern on Friday at a deal to end the siege in a besieged Damascus suburb, saying civilians should only be evacuated if it safe to do so.

Rebels and Syria's army agreed a deal on Thursday to evacuate all residents and insurgents from Daraya, a rebel leader and state media said, ending one of the longest stand-offs in the five-year conflict.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Stephen O'Brien said in emailed remarks to Reuters: "We continue to demand free and safe access to Daraya and urge all parties to ensure that any movement of civilians now must be safe, voluntary and in accordance with international humanitarian principles and laws."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by John Stonestreet)

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