Syria: Fighters begin leaving Ghouta's last rebel-held town

Buses will carry rebel fighters and their families from their final stronghold in eastern Ghouta to Jarabulus leaving Assad’s troops free to occupy the territory

Ghouta Falls in Syrian Regime's Clutches

Syrian ally Russian Federation has struck a deal with rebels in the main town of the eastern Ghouta region to allow hundreds of civilians to leave along with fighters, a group monitoring Syria's conflict said on Sunday.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, used to be occupied by several rebel groups, who posed the last threat to the capital by firing shells into Damascus' government-controlled neighborhoods. Under the deal, Syrian state media said Jaish Al Islam would hand over heavy and medium-sized weapons and acknowledge the restoration of the Damascus government's control of Douma.

Also on Sunday, Hezbollah media said that an agreement had been reached with the rebel group to evacuate fighters to Jarablus, a town in northern Syria near the border with Turkey.

Buses entered the enclave on Tuesday to prepare for a second day of evacuations, a military source and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The Russian military on Wednesday said 1100 Syrian rebels and their family members have evacuated from Douma in two dozen buses in the past 24 hours.

Douma was one of the earliest centers of the anti-government demonstrations that swept through the country in March 2011. Security forces responded by putting the town and other suburbs around Damascus under siege, bombing hospitals and residential areas, and blocking the entry of food and medical relief.

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Russian Federation is a key backer of Assad.

There was no immediate comment from Jaysh al-Islam.

Turkey, with support from rebels, is running its own military operations against a USA -backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria, which controls territory along the frontier.

There are also reports that the dominant militant group in Douma, so-called Jaish al-Islam, has struck a deal to evacuate the area.

Syrian state TV separately said the army had freed the four women and a man from the militants as part of "efforts by the Syrian state to liberate all the prisoners in Douma". They reportedly include 1,100 Faylaq al-Rahman fighters and their relatives who left Douma late on Sunday. They were instead pushed into the town by a recent government offensive that broke rebel lines and cleaved eastern Ghouta into three parts, said local media activist Ahmad Khansour.

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