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undergroundnewsroom.com April 26, 2018


Last Syrian Rebel Group Starts Leaving Ghouta

03 April 2018, 04:21 | Damon Campbell

Forget the politics, this is a humanitarian catastrophe

Syrian government forces' infantry fighting vehicles and trucks drive past damaged buildings down a street in the Eastern Ghouta town of Hazzeh on the outskirts of Damascus

"We're coming out of Syria, like, very soon".

The Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Sunday's deal provides for Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families, as well as civilians who want, to be evacuated to rebel-held areas in the northern province of Aleppo.

The rebels are militants of the Failaq al-Rahman group, who had fled their areas in central Eastern Ghouta toward Douma ahead of the recapture of their areas by the Syrian army recently. 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 army forces will be deployed in the four towns, after entering parts of them, as the state TV said the Syrian official flag is hoisted in Arbeen. The government says it is restoring security to Damascus, which was regularly shelled from eastern Ghouta during the war.

There was no immediate comment from Jaysh al-Islam.

"The president has made clear, and repeated this last week, that we are in Syria to defeat ISIL and that their enduring defeat remains a top priority", the official said.

Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated to government-controlled areas or to Idlib, home to mostly Islamist fighters in the northwest.

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It was the first organized evacuation of fighters from Douma, which has held out against government forces through 7 years of war. Bakkar, the media activist, said the evacuees were wounded civilians.

In the spring of 2015, it held a massive military parade that included thousands of opposition fighters marching in formation and a striking display of tanks and armoured vehicles at the doors of the Syrian capital.

The government lost control of Douma, the largest urban centre in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, in the early phase of Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year. More than 40,000 rebels and their family members have chosen to relocate, according to the Russian military. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting 19 pro-government fighters were killed.

A civilian committee taking part in the negotiations with Russian Federation said a deal had been reached "to evacuate humanitarian cases to northern Syria".

An opposition official told the Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that the Army of Islam was still engaged in talks with Russian Federation over the future of Douma. Ahmad Ramadan, an opposition figure, revealed on Sunday that Turkey was party to the talks as well.

The transfers are part of an agreement between Jaish al-Islam and the Syrian government that grants rebels safe passage to the northern city of Jarablus in return for their withdrawal from Douma.

The increase in special operations troops in the northern Syrian city was confirmed by Col. Thomas F. Veale, a us military spokesperson and public affairs director for the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), who said the recent deployment was a "protection measure to ensure the safety of coalition troops in the area".



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