Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Aerial footage shows Syria's eastern Ghouta in ruins

Aerial footage shows Syria's eastern Ghouta in ruins

Rebel fighters with the Jaish al-Islam group in the Syrian town of Douma, near the capital Damascus, have expressed readiness to lay down their arms and leave the town, Russia's RIA news agency quoted a Russian General Staff official as saying.

Its departure would be a key victory for President Bashar Assad's forces as they push for control of the region.

The last rebel faction that's still active in Eastern Ghouta, just outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus, is denying reports in Russian media that they are poised to surrender.

It was the single largest one-day evacuation yet from Eastern Ghouta, after almost 1,000 people were bussed out from the same area on Saturday.

Under the first deal, hard-line Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham agreed to quit the town of Harasta.

The largest numbers have quit the towns of Arbin and Zamalka, and the adjacent district of Jobar, all controlled by the Faylaq al-Rahman faction.

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

Assad has used such evacuation agreements to recover swathes of territory since the uprising against his rule began seven years ago this month.

A convoy transporting Syrian civilians and rebel fighters drives past destroyed buildings in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta
A convoy transporting Syrian civilians and rebel fighters drives past destroyed buildings in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta Credit AFP

However, it is understood that Jaish al-Islam is also close to reaching an evacuation deal following negotiations with the Russian army, an ally of Syrian forces. Some in the area of about 400,000 people have sought sanctuary in underground hideouts, and food has been scarce since government forces wrested control of tunnels used to smuggle supplies.

"The Army of Islam has taken the decision to stay put, but there is hope they will change their mind", said a Douma-based opposition activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Under the second deal, rebels from Faylaq al-Rahman are being given safe passage to the northwest, along with thousands of civilians, in exchange for releasing prisoners they were holding.

Eight were freed on Sunday and another 26 the following day, SANA said.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels were divided on a deal with Moscow.

Russian and Iranian military backing for Assad has also far outstripped support that had been offered to rebel groups from foreign states including Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

For now, Tiger Forces remain on their points and areas of operation in Eastern Ghouta awaiting orders to move towards Yarmouk Camp in the case that an agreement is reached for Douma entailing the evacuation of its militants.

Austin Police Suspect a 'Serial Bomber' is Attacking City After Fourth Explosion
UTPD said in the statement that the use of a trip wire does not require victims to handle packages to trigger an explosion. Police said all four incidents have similarities but have not yet made a broader connection or identified a motive.

Pro-Turkish forces pillage Afrin after taking Syrian city
Turkey's armed forces said in a statement that troops were combing the streets for mines and improvised explosive devices. Turkey's army likewise said in a statement that the town is now under the "complete control" of it and its allies.

Better than Modric!: Danish national coach praises Christian Eriksen
This season they have 25 against so far with eight matches still to play, but the competition has been much stronger in 2017/18. The midfielder has responded, however, insisting that he has not considered the possibility of leaving Spurs.

Like this: