Syrian regime claims last rebel group leaving Ghouta
05 April, 2018, 02:05 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
The state news agency SANA said on Wednesday buses had entered Douma for the third consecutive day to evacuate more rebel fighters and their families to the northern Syrian city of Jarablus, near the border with Turkey.
The government lost control of Douma, the largest urban center in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, in the early phase of Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year. The Saudi-backed group, which has deep roots in the region, has held firm in recent weeks as virtually all the other insurgents of eastern Ghouta have reached deals to relocate to the rebel-held north.
The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
Later Sunday, a media outlet linked to the Syrian military reported that the Army of Islam also agreed to leave to north Syria, effectively transferring control of Douma to Damascus.
The group is estimated to command 10,000 fighters in the town, and has a formidable arsenal of tanks and other heavy weaponry.
Members of the last remaining and most powerful rebel group in the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus are leaving, according to Syrian state media.
The Russian military on Tuesday said 1,100 Syrian rebels and their family members have evacuated from Douma in two dozen buses in the past 24 hours.
Russian Federation has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, ultimately helping to turn the tide of the devastating civil war in his favor.
The Russian military says on Wednesday it expects an opposition evacuation from the suburbs of the Syrian capital to be completed in the coming days.
The second largest chunk of Syrian territory is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias spearheaded by the Syrian Kurdish YPG and supported by the US -led coalition against Islamic State.
Ahmad Ramadan, a prominent opposition figure in exile, told the Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that the Army of Islam was still engaged in talks with Russian Federation over the future of the town.
It said Russia, Iran, and Turkey - which have negotiated local settlements in different parts of Syria - would oversee the handover of prisoners held by the Army of Islam to the government.
Local activists have said that over 100,000 civilians were trapped inside Douma, which suffered devastating damage.
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