Syrian Army's Operation in E Ghouta Means 'Complete Surrender' of US - Scholar

28 March, 2018, 01:16 | Author: Marie Harrington
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Thousands of fighters have already evacuated the suburbs with their family members and other civilians, but the Army of Islam said it was determined to stay in its stronghold, Douma, the largest town in eastern Ghouta.

The first agreement, with hardline Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, saw more than 4,500 people, including rebel fighters, leave the town of Harasta last week.

Russian Federation has brokered deals with Faylaq and another hardline group that has seen more than 17,000 rebels, their relatives, and other civilians bused out of Ghouta.

Jaish al-Islam holds Douma, the last rebel city in the region, and continues to negotiate with Syria and Russian Federation on a settlement of the ongoing fighting.

The agreement with Faylaq al-Rahman was announced on Friday and its implementation started the following morning.

In the previous two batches, on last Saturday and Sunday respectively, a total of 6,416 people, including rebels and their families, evacuated the same areas and moved to the rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Residents of the enclave have been in dire need of food and medicine, especially since the latest offensive began, which has exacerbated Eastern Ghouta's humanitarian crisis.

Syrian troops have already captured more than 90 percent of Eastern Ghouta through a blistering assault that has killed more than 1,600 civilians.

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Separately, Army of Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar has accused the Faylaq al-Rahman rebels of helping government forces make inroads in the enclave after they dried out artificial swamps set up by the rebel fighters to slow down the Syrian forces' advance.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.

Eastern Ghouta has been under rebel control since mid-2013.

Before they faltered, talks over Douma's fate had envisioned Jaish al-Islam laying down its heavy weapons in exchange for government-provided water and electricity returning to the town.

Russian military police, but not Syria's army, would deploy there.

"My mother's heart is broken from waiting", she says.Tens of thousands of Syrians have been reported missing in Syria since its civil war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

But divisions within opposition ranks were holding up the talks, Abdel Rahman told AFP.

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