Beyond The County: 300 Syrians leave suburb of Damascus after deal, Stanford rapist released |

Beyond The County: 300 Syrians leave suburb of Damascus after deal, Stanford rapist released

A girl clutches a teddy bear as she waits to board a bus leaving the Moadamiyeh suburb of Damascus, Syria, on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Dozens of Syrians living in a besieged rebel-held suburb of the capital, Damascus, have begun evacuating the area following a deal struck with the government that grants amnesty to gunmen and restores state control. (AP Photo)

MOADAMIYEH, Syria — More than 300 Syrians were taken by bus out of a rebel-held suburb of the capital, Damascus, in an evacuation Friday under a deal struck with the government that ends a punishing 3-year-long siege, allows rebel fighters to leave and restores state control over the area.

The suburb of Moadamiyeh is the latest opposition pocket to relent after residents could no longer take the suffering under sieges by Syria’s military, with food supplies dwindling and key infrastructure like hospitals being destroyed. A nearby suburb, Daraya, surrendered and came under government control last week.

The accelerating pace of such surrenders points to the success of the military’s tactic of sieges, even as it has brought international criticism and complaints from the U.N. over the difficulty of getting humanitarian aid to besieged residents.

An Associated Press reporter in Moadamiyeh saw security forces searching the luggage of dozens of men, women, and children before they boarded buses Friday, heading out of the suburb to shelters in a government-controlled neighborhood nearby.

Moadamiyeh, which a U.N. report said was gassed with toxic sarin in 2013, has suffered a three-year government siege, leaving its estimated 28,000 residents with dwindling food and medical supplies.

The first part of the deal’s implementation evacuated about 340 people, including 62 gunmen who agreed to lay down their arms after taking advantage of a presidential amnesty, said the governor of Rural Damascus province, Alaa Munir Ibrahim.

Aside from the gunmen, the evacuees are all residents of the nearby suburb of Daraya who had been trapped in Moadamiyeh when the military launched a major offensive on Daraya earlier this year.

Once their evacuation to government-controlled areas is complete, the rebel gunmen in Moadamiyeh who refuse to hand over their weapons will leave, likely to rebel-held parts of northern Syria. The rest of the suburb’s population will remain.

It was not clear when government security forces would take over control of the suburb.

Moadamiyeh’s fall was a direct result of the collapse of resistance in Daraya, which had been under siege since 2012. Battered by the offensive launched this year, Daraya’s residents finally reached a deal with the government, and last week the entire remaining population of the suburb — about 4,000 people out of an original 200,000 — was removed, drawing criticism that it was a forced displacement.

The offensive also cut off other rebel-held areas like Moadamiyah.

“The heroic acts of the Syrian army in Daraya led to the achievement in Moadamiyeh,” Ibrahim, the provincial governor, told Syrian state TV.

No charges filed over San Diego flesh-eating death

SAN DIEGO — Prosecutors say they won’t file criminal charges over the death of a man who developed a flesh-eating infection after a fight outside a San Diego nightclub.

Twenty-one-year-old Conner Kepple died about a week after the March confrontation.

The San Diego Union-Tribune ( ) says an autopsy report released this week ruled the death a homicide caused by Kepple’s injuries.

Police say Kepple was celebrating his upcoming birthday when he was thrown out of the club for hitting a bouncer, then scuffled with other employees outside.

Police say Kepple didn’t appear to be seriously hurt but he developed pain in an injured leg that worsened.

Kepple had contracted fast-spreading necrotizing fasciitis. He was taken off life support on his 21st birthday.

His family has sued the nightclub for wrongful death.

Reward in California sea otter killings doubled

SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities have doubled a reward to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot and killed three southern sea otters in the last month.

The three male otters were found dead between the Santa Cruz Harbor and Seacliff State Beach in Aptos last month, but initial necropsy results show the otters were shot and died several days to several weeks before washing ashore.

Southern sea otters are protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. They are also protected under Marine Mammal Protection Act and by California state law. Killing a southern sea otter is punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and a possible jail sentence.

Anyone with information should call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wrong man released from San Francisco jail

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco jail wants its inmate back after mistakenly releasing the man.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports ( ) that a court clerk accidentally indicated that all charges against 20-year-old Victor Rodriguez had been dismissed and San Francisco County jail deputies released him Wednesday night.

Rodriguez actually had several months left on his sentence and was booked last November on suspicion of robbery, battery and resisting arrest. He was twice charged with making threats against police.

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Eileen Hirst says the judge was planning to sentence Rodriguez to a year in county jail for one of the threatening charges. She says there is no reason to think the clerk’s mistake was malicious.

Swimmer’s sex assault sentence spurs debate over prison plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A November ballot measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allow earlier parole for thousands of California inmates to control overcrowding in state prisons and rein in costs.

But critics say it could result in the very situation that led to public outrage in the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner.

The proposal is limited to nonviolent offenders. But in California, “nonviolent” is broadly defined.

It encompasses scores of crimes, including certain rapes and sexual assaults, vehicular and involuntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence.

Because of that, prosecutors say the ballot measure could mean less time in prison for people like Turner. The one-time Olympic hopeful swimmer was released Friday after completing half of a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

FBI publishes notes on Clinton’s use of private email

WASHINGTON — The FBI has released 58 pages of documents from its recently closed investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, including a summary of agents’ interviews with Clinton and several of her aides.

The documents include technical details about how the server in the basement of Clinton’s home was set up.

Friday’s release of documents involving the Democratic presidential nominee is a highly unusual step, but one that reflects the extraordinary public interest in the investigation into Clinton’s server.

After a yearlong investigation, the FBI recommended against prosecution in July, and the Justice Department then closed the case.

FBI Director James Comey said that while Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless,” there was no evidence they intentionally mishandled classified information.

Early voting already: Trump chances may hinge on non-whites

WASHINGTON — Two months before Election Day, early voting kicks off next week in North Carolina. It’s the first in a run of key states where minority voters and young adults could give one of the White House contenders a decisive advantage.

For Donald Trump, it’s a major test of whether his recent outreach to non-white groups is translating into votes. Minorities can tip the scales in the increasingly diverse battleground states of North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. Those are all must-win states for Trump, except Colorado.

Early voters are expected to make up 50 to 75 percent or more of all ballots in the six states, based on 2012 figures. That’s compared to a national average of 35 percent, according to election data compiled by The Associated Press.

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