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08 April 2018, 01:11 | Damon Campbell
Young man pulled from rubble in Douma
Syrian state TV said several airstrikes hit Douma after members of the Army of Islam rebel group shelled government-held areas nearby inflicting casualties.
On Apr. 2, as talks between Russian Federation and Jaish al-Islam (an armed opposition group operating in Eastern Ghouta) were underway, evacuations began from Duma, with some 5,000 civilians leaving the area for opposition-held areas in northern Syria. Meanwhile, eight civilians were killed and 20 others wounded in a auto bomb attack in northern Al Bab city.
The situation in the Damascus suburb has been tense since February 18, when Syrian government forces launched the operation Damascus Steel, in a bid to clear the region of militants that were attacking the Syrian capital from its outskirts.
On Thursday, evacuations of civilians from Douma were suspended, days after hundreds of opposition fighters and their families safely left Douma under a Russian-brokered deal.
All that remains is Douma, the largest town, held by the Jaish Al Islam faction, home to tens of thousands.
A reporter for Lebanon's Al-Manar TV embedded with Syrian troops near Douma said government forces advanced toward Douma from the towns of Misraba and Madiara that were recently captured by troops.
According to the Syrian Civil Defence, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, the air raids killed at least 30 civilians, including women and children.
The air and ground offensive on Eastern Ghouta has killed more than 1,600 civilians and caused an worldwide outcry.
SANA blamed the suspension of the evacuation on the inner conflict among Islam Army rebels.
The enclave on the eastern edge of Damascus had escaped regime control since 2012 and, although it had shrunk over the years, it still covered sizeable territory two months ago. It sliced the area into three isolated pockets each held by different rebel factions. "We don't know where we're going, and rumours are flying in the town", said a resident reached by phone who gave his name as Mohammed.
More than 42,000 rebels and civilians are evacuated to Idlib.
But Jaish Al Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar in a statement late Friday denied that the group had targeted any Damascus neighbourhoods.
Tens of thousands of civilians also fled through humanitarian corridors opened by Russian Federation and are either already returning to their devastated neighborhoods or staying in crowded shelters.
Jaish al-Islam had been angling for a reconciliation deal that would allow them to stay in Douma as a police force.
For a week the bombardment had subsided as Moscow pursued peace talks with Jaish al-Islam, but talks came to an abrupt halt and air strikes suddenly resumed on Friday afternoon, killing dozens of civilians.
Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by forces loyal to al-Assad for more than four years.
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