Awaiting Russian answer on Douma proposals: Syrian rebel group

28 March, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Fourth convoy reaches Syria’s Hama amid evacuation deal

Late last week, a tentative ceasefire allowed thousands of civilians and rebel fighters to leave Ghouta and relocate in the northwestern province of Idlib.

According to Yevtushenko, militants of the Fayalq al-Rahman group and members of their families continue to leave the area via the Arbil humanitarian corridor under the center's control for the fourth day in a row.

Tens of thousands of civilians and fighters left battered Eastern Ghouta, where some streets have been bombed to the ground, after all but one of its main rebel groups reached agreements with Russian Federation to withdraw, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian government forces and allied militia have recaptured about 80 percent of the former rebel bastion since they launched a brutal offensive last month that has left hundreds of people dead and rendered many more homeless.

The government has refused to negotiate any mass prisoner release despite pressure from the U.N. Late Monday, rebels released 28 prisoners to the government.

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The town of Douma now remains the last rebel-held stronghold in the besieged enclave.

Almost 1,000 people - including rebels, their relatives and other civilians - were evacuated on Saturday, followed by 5,435 people on Sunday.

President Bashar Al Assad has used such agreements to recover territory lost since the uprising against him began seven years ago this month.

Jaish al-Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar has said the negotiations are focused on the rebels staying, not evacuating.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights placed the number of civilians leaving Eastern Ghouta at 140,000.

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A third set of talks over the final pocket - controlled by Jaish al-Islam and including the largest town in the area, Douma - may not end in evacuation.

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.

More than 120,000 crossed the front lines for safety, the Russian military said Tuesday.

Some 200,000 people are estimated to remain in Douma, including many who fled other parts of Ghouta as regime forces advanced.

Yuva also stressed that there have been no provocations in Syria's Idlib governorate during the ongoing military operation in Eastern Ghouta, and that Turkey has essentially supported Syrian government forces.

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But divisions within opposition ranks were holding up the talks with some hardliners seeking to sabotage the proposed deal, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

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