Assad′s media says main remaining rebel faction leaving eastern Ghouta | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 02.04.2018
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Middle East

Assad's media says main remaining rebel faction leaving eastern Ghouta

Buses have left eastern Ghouta, carrying fighters and family from a last rebel holdout, according to Syrian state television. President Bashar al-Assad's regime could soon take full control east of Damascus.

Three Syrian soldiers sitting on an embankment (Imago/Xinhua/A. Safarjalani)

Syrian soldiers seen on Friday in rebel-held Douma

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that some rebels had left Douma, a part of eastern Ghouta, a sprawling suburban zone lying east of the capital, Damascus.

The government's initial statements reported two buses, and then four buses, leaving the rebels' last stronghold in the area.

On Sunday, Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reported that a deal had been reachedfor Jaish al-Islam, or Army of Islam, to leave Douma.

The fighters were expected to head to Jarablus, a town in northern Syria shared by rebels and Turkish forces.

Young girl in red jacket leans out of bus window as adults pass by| Evakuierung aus Douma, Ostghuta (Reuters/B. Khabieh)

An earlier evacuation from Douma

There was no immediate comment on Monday from the rebels themselves.

"A group of buses carrying a number of Jaish al-Islam terrorists and their families leave Douma in preparation of them being transported to Jarablus," Syria's state news agency SANA reported.

Six-week assault

Since starting their assault mid-February, Assad's forces have retaken 95 percent of eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory. Some 1,600 civilians were killed and tens of thousands displaced.

Syria's war, begun in 2011 with Assad's repression of anti-regime protests, has claimed more than 350,000 lives and displaced many millions, both inside its borders and to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

ipj/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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