Rebels set to abandon bastion near Syrian capital

Syrian government forces' infantry fighting vehicles and trucks drive past damaged buildings down a street in the Eastern Ghouta town of Hazzeh on the outskirts of Damascus

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

Syrian state media say the largest rebel group in Damascus' eastern Ghouta, the Army of Islam, has begun to evacuate from the area's last holdout town.

The reports said buses carrying members of the Army of Islam were taking people from the besieged town of Douma to Jarablus in northern Syria.

Over the past weeks, as Syrian forces reclaimed towns and villages in eastern Ghouta, they gave rebels and all men of fighting age the choice of accepting amnesty and serving in the Syrian military conscription, or leaving to go to the north of Syria. "Later, fighters rejecting the deal would exit the area while the others stay inside the city with their light weapons", the sources said, adding that Russia's military police would then be deployed inside Douma to take control of the town.

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of the Syrian warring parties, said Sunday that the fighters are to hand over maps of mined areas and underground tunnels while leaving the Douma area of Eastern Ghouta.

More than 1,500 people have died from the civil war just in the last month.

Two members of the US -led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State were killed and five others were wounded by an improvised explosive device in northern Syria late on Thursday.

"They will all have to agree to the settlement in the end", the source said. They included fighters from the Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups, their families and other residents.

More news: Stephens defeats Ostapenko to claim Miami crown

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

It was the first organized evacuation of fighters from Douma, which has held out against government forces through 7 years of war.

The rebels have been negotiating with Russian Federation, a key ally of Assad, for days on an agreement to evacuate Douma. It said the bus had left eastern Ghouta Friday night. More than 11 million people - about half the country's prewar population - have been displaced from their homes, including over 5 million who are living as refugees outside Syria, according to the United Nations.

It says a local council for Douma will be formed with the approval of the central government.

The government was not party to the negotiations over Douma, which were conducted between Russian Federation and the Army of Islam. Ankara says the town is controlled by Syrian Kurdish militiamen that Turkish officials claim are "terrorists" and an extension of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey.

The increase in special operations troops in the northern Syrian city was confirmed by Col. Thomas F. Veale, a us military spokesperson and public affairs director for the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), who said the recent deployment was a "protection measure to ensure the safety of coalition troops in the area".

Latest News