Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Russian Federation says evacuation from Syria's eastern Ghouta to end within days

Eastern Ghouta evacuation Syria's Assad poised for another huge symbolic victory
Andrew Cummings | 06 April, 2018, 01:55

At the regime-held Wafideen checkpoint, the delayed evacuation came as a huge disappointment for families who were hoping to reunite with relatives who they say were being held by the rebels.

The region has been under rebel control since 2013.

A total of 40,000 civilians have returned home in the Syrian capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta, where the army almost gained full control, the state news agency SANA reported Tuesday.

Douma is a stronghold of the powerful Army of Islam rebel group.

The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, said the Army of Islam is divided over whether to evacuate Douma, with hard-liners demanding they stay and fight.

"The Syrian government has taken a decision to clear militants from the areas", the source told Reuters.

"There are divisions among the Jaish al-Islam group on their leaving but we are continuing preparations", the military source said.

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Opposition officials, however, denied the reports.

Turkey, Russia and Iran also said that they were already committed to achieve a "lasting ceasefire" in Syria, in a joint statement issued following their meeting held in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Dozens if not hundreds of residents are believed to require care for war wounds and medical conditions exacerbated by the siege of the town.

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 fighters who left Douma on Sunday were the last remaining Failaq a-Rahman forces in East Ghouta.

Syria's state news agency SANA said the buses left Douma due to "differences between" rebels and "in order to let them sort out by themselves these differences".

On the final push for Eastern Ghouta, just outside the Syrian capital, Mr. Egeland said that there had been "no recent reports of fighting and air raids" and "hopefully the battle is over now in the heavily populated areas."Until recently more than 400,000 people had been besieged for years in parts of Eastern Ghouta". Government forces extended their control over those areas over the course of a five-week offensive that killed at least 1,600 civilians and displaced tens of thousands more, according to the Observatory, an opposition-linked group that monitors both sides of the conflict.

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