Rebels free five prisoners in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Marsha Scott
April 6, 2018

The return of the civilians was still ongoing, as the Syrian army has recaptured all towns in Eastern Ghouta except for the last rebel stronghold of Douma district, where the Islam Army rebels have also agreed to evacuate recently. Russian-backed regime forces have retaken control of 95% of Eastern Ghouta since February 18 through a combination of a deadly air and ground assault and evacuation deals.

On Sunday, Iyad Abdelaziz, a council member from Douma, countered Syrian government claims an agreement was reached with Jaish al-Islam to leave the town, stressing that this only applied to the wounded. The civilians and fighters were moved to northern Jarabulus.

Syrian government forces backed by Russian Federation have recaptured almost all of eastern Ghouta, which was the last major rebel enclave on the outskirts of Damascus, in a ferocious assault that began in February, marking a major victory for President Bashar Al Assad.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

But while Russia's Defense Ministry said 2,000 had left since April 1, the opposition source familiar with the negotiations said no final deal had been reached with Jaish al-Islam.

"We would then say anywhere between 80,000 to 150,000 are in the Douma area still under control of the armed opposition groups, Jaish al-Islam the biggest", Egeland said.

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The official, Kadir Akgunduz, said the badly-scarred baby had arrived with his mother, father and grandfather, and was taken to a government hospital in southern Hatay province.

Militants left the area after Russian-brokered agreements on daily humanitarian ceasefires and deals made between militants and Syrian government forces.

The departure of civilian authorities followed a Saturday morning meeting between several major civil society organizations and Jaish al-Islam leadership in Douma, in which the former requested that civilians be given the option to evacuate, pro-opposition news outlet al-Modon reported at the time.

The girls tweeted that they are now in Turkey, away from danger, and hope to see all children of Syria live in peace and safety.

Faylaq al-Rahman did not have a significant presence in the Douma.

The group, which is estimated to have many thousands of fighters, has previously insisted it will not leave Douma or accept "forced displacement" to another part of Syria.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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