Russian Federation says evacuation from Syria's eastern Ghouta to end within days

Russian Federation says evacuation from Syria's eastern Ghouta to end within days

Kerry Wise
April 7, 2018

Damascus Countryside Police Command reactivated the work of the police units in Jisrin, Erbin and Harasta in eastern Ghouta and deployed regular patrols to enhance security and safety and to protect the popular and private properties in them. He recounted findings of a Sunday visit by a 25-member United Nations team to Raqqa, the first of its kind since the city was freed in October.

The expected loss of Eastern Ghouta will deal Syria's fragmented rebels their biggest blow yet, leaving them unable to threaten President Bashar Assad in Damascus and increasingly subservient to competing global interests.

The rebels are also coming under intense pressure from the estimated 70,000 civilians trapped inside Douma who are desperate for the fighting to end, our correspondent adds.

The Syrian government dispatched more than 50 buses to Douma to take the rebels out, SANA reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed Wednesday's release.

Douma is a stronghold of the powerful Army of Islam rebel group.

However, there were no reports of any having exited at the start of the afternoon.

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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.

In the past 24 hours, an additional 1,100 Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families have left the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Russia's defence ministry also said.

The state news agency SANA said on Wednesday buses had entered Douma for the third consecutive day to evacuate more rebel fighters and their families to the northern Syrian city of Jarablus, near the border with Turkey.

"All in all, 157,255 people have left Eastern Ghouta with assistance from the Russian reconciliation center since humanitarian pauses were enacted", Yevtushenko said.

The three countries have been working to try and resolve the conflict, which is now in its seventh year.

The government's key ally Russian Federation announced on Sunday that Jaysh al-Islam had agreed to an evacuation.

They have sponsored a series talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and have set up "de-escalation zones" aimed at reducing the fighting.