Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Reports Of Douma Evacuation Deal 'Not True': Council Member

Reports Of Douma Evacuation Deal 'Not True': Council Member

In the past 24 hours, an additional 1,100 Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families have left the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Russia's defence ministry also said.

The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment.

Syrian state TV said eight buses carrying 448 people - fighters and their families - had left Douma so far on Monday, en route for the north.

He added, however, that "humanitarian cases" would be allowed to evacuate on Monday.

Buses entered the last rebel holdout of Syria's Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday in preparation for a possible second day of evacuations as the regime eyed the total reconquest of the enclave.

The Russian military said the rebels will surrender maps of mined areas and underground tunnels when they leave Douma.

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.

In video footage published by the group online on Sunday, leader Essam al-Buidani told men in a mosque: "We will stay in this town and will not leave".

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The Syrian army declared victory in eastern Ghouta Saturday after opposition fighters evacuated from most of the area near the capital except for the town of Douma where negotiations are still underway for rebels there to leave or face an all-out government offensive.

At least 1,644 civilians, including 344 children, have been killed in the offensive that began on February 18 and reduced some neighborhoods to rubble, according to SOHR, which monitors the seven-year Syrian war through activists on the ground.

It said those on board were fighters and family members belonging to the Army of Islam, the largest rebel group in eastern Ghouta.

Jaish al-Islam agreed Saturday to evacuate its wounded to Idlib, in northwestern Syria, the last province in the country under the control of Islamist forces opposed to Assad.

The unit of the powerful Lebanese Shia militia that has been fighting with the Syrian army said among the terms of the deal was setting up a Syrian government-approved local council to run the city's affairs after rebels withdraw.

The town of Douma was one of the earliest hubs of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in 2011.

Russian Federation and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been urging the United States for months to pull its 2,000 or so troops out of Syria, maintaining that their presence on Syrian territory is a violation of global law. Syrian government forces responded by putting the town and other suburbs around Damascus under siege, bombing hospitals and residential areas, and blocking the entry of food and medical relief.

Meanwhile, the Russian peace and reconciliation center in Syria announced on Sunday that militants from Faylaq al-Rahman terror group have completely withdrawn from Eastern Ghouta. Douma is one of the last pockets of the opposition around the capital to hold out against the government.

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