Syria war: Rebels 'begin leaving last Eastern Ghouta town'
Syria war: Rebels 'begin leaving last Eastern Ghouta town'
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06 April, 2018, 11:00
Ahmad Abazeid, an independent Syrian analyst, said rebels in Ghouta's armed insurgency had been a rare case of more independent decision-making.
The last Syrian rebel group in eastern Ghouta near Damascus began withdrawing on Monday under an agreement with the government, state media said, though a military source said a group of insurgents were still rejecting the deal.
The five had been abducted by the Army of Islam rebel group in Ghouta in 2013 along with many other civilians, it said.
Of that number, around 80,000 have gone to shelters in Government-held areas of Rural Damascus and one-third have left voluntarily an important indicator of freedom of movement, the humanitarian official added.
More than 1,600 people are reported to have been killed and thousands injured since the government and its allies launched an offensive in mid-February to retake the Eastern Ghouta, which was the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus.
Douma was one of the earliest centers of the anti-government demonstrations that swept through the country in March 2011.
The Syrian government says it fires in response to shelling from Eastern Ghouta, but Western countries are accusing the Syrian government and Russian Federation of being responsible for the intensification of tensions in the area.
Today's departures - already under way - will leave government forces in control of the enclave for the first time in almost five years.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group on Tuesday said the reports were false.
Hundreds of residents are believed to require care for war wounds and medical conditions exacerbated by the siege.
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.
The towns are located in a section of the Turkish-Syrian frontier where Turkey has carved out a buffer zone controlled on the ground by its military and allied fighters from Free Syrian Army rebel groups that are hostile to Assad.
Turkey, with support from rebels, is running its own military operations against a USA -backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria, which controls territory along the frontier.
The army units, in cooperation with the police units, are working on providing all facilitations and aid needed for the return of the locals to their homes.
The fighters in Douma were following their Faylaq al-Rahman comrades trapped in the other two Ghouta pockets that relocated to northern Syria last week.
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They included fighters from the Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups, their families and other residents. The evacuations are part of a Russian-brokered agreement between the Assad regime and armed opposition groups.
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