Russian Federation brokers final deal to evacuate east Ghouta

Syria US Turkey
Final evacuation deal reached for Syria's eastern Ghouta enclave
Author

03 April, 2018

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks over the past 24 hours struck in and around the town of Albu Kamal, near the border with Iraq.

Late on Saturday, negotiators reached a deal to evacuate wounded Jaish al Islam civilians and fighters to Idlib in the northwest.

Douma is the last rebel-held area in Eastern Ghouta, after other towns in that sprawling countryside have seen the evacuation of all the rebels and their families toward Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

The dominant rebel group in Douma is Jaish al-Islam, which is still negotiating a deal with Russian Federation over surrender terms giving its fighters the option of leaving the enclave or making peace with the Syrian authorities.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Observatory, said negotiations are now suggesting that thousands of Army of Islam members and their relatives could head to the northern town of Jarablous that is controlled by Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

A Russian-brokered deal had been reported on Sunday for fighters with Jaish Al Islam, the largest rebel group still in Ghouta, to leave the enclave's main town of Douma. The most powerful Syrian rebel faction on the fringes of Damascus began abandoning its stronghold in the once rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta on Monday, opening the way for government forces to secure full control of the area, after seven years of revolt.

"Twelve buses carrying 629 Jaish al Islam terrorists and their families exited Douma.in preparation of them being transported to Jarablus", regime news agency SANA reported, using the regime's term for all rebel fighters.

More than 1,500 people have died from the civil war just in the last month.

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Reports of the deal came as the last of the Faylaq al Rahman fighters were leaving Douma.

The Syrian government and the Russian military backing it have demanded that the Army of Islam rebel group leave the area for northern Syria, following a devastating five-week government offensive in eastern Ghouta. Backed by Russia, Mr Assad's forces have scored a series of victories over rebel forces in recent years, often through campaigns of siege, aerial bombardment as well as ground offensives that have drawn widespread global condemnation.

And more than 41,000 evacuated a southern pocket including the town of Arbin this week under another deal with the Faylaq al-Rahman opposition faction.

On Sunday, Pope Francis called for an end to "carnage" in Syria in his Easter message.

A number of civilian Douma residents, including the city's local council, several civil defense members and local activists, were among the 1,146 people who left the city on Sunday, pro-opposition sources reported. It gave no further details nor did it say when the planned evacuations would start.

A political official in Jaish al Islam denied they had agreed to evacuate Douma and said the government-inspired reports were stepped up psychological warfare aimed at forcing them to capitulate.

"Of course I would rather leave".

A statement said the military would press on with "fighting in the area of Douma to rid it of terrorism", in reference to the rebels.


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