Beirut - Fresh supplies of food aid reached Syria's rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Thursday for the first time since last week, as thousands fled the besieged region near the capital Damascus, aid groups and a monitor reported.
"We are offloading and all is going well," Ralph al-Haj, an official at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told dpa.
Linda Tom, a spokeswoman at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the ICRC, the Syrian Red Crescent and the UN were delivering food assistance for 26 100 people in Eastern Ghouta's town of Douma.
"But much more is needed including medicine, medical supplies and other essential items," she added.
Eastern Ghouta is one of the remaining areas under rebel control on the outskirts of Damascus. It has been the target of intense government attacks for almost a month.
Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said shelling was heard in Douma as the 25-truck convoy entered.
Last Friday, a 13-truck convoy entered Douma to deliver aid. A previous delivery had failed due to insecurity and fighting there.
Douma is controlled by the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam.
Abdel-Rahman said that more than 12 500 civilians left Eastern Ghouta on Thursday for government-controlled areas through a humanitarian corridor in the town of Hamouriyeh.
"This is considered the largest exodus from the region since it fell under the government siege in 2013," Abdel-Rahman told dpa.
Syrian state media said that around 10 000 had left Hamouriyeh.
Russian news agency TASS said at least 13 000 people were expected to leave the region by the end of the day.
The Syrian army retook control of Hamouriyeh on Thursday after the rebel faction Faylaq al-Sham retreated from the town, according to the Britain-based Observatory. The rebels seized Hamouriyeh more than five years ago.
Evacuations of civilians from Eastern Ghouta began earlier this week, after a daily, 5-hour ceasefire was called last month by Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The evacuees are accompanied by army forces to makeshift centres outside Damascus, according to state media.
Around 1 992 people, inckluding 426 children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta due to violence in the past four months, the Observatory has estimated.