Monday, 23 July, 2018

United Nations seeks access to Syrians in eastern Ghouta's Douma

Deal sealed to evacuate Douma rebels to northern Syria United Nations seeks access to Syrians in eastern Ghouta's Douma
Glenn Montgomery | 05 April, 2018, 01:46

After the last batch of armed islamists left the towns of Jobar, Arbeen, Zamalka and Ayn Tarma on Saturday evening, the entire Eastern Ghouta came under the government control except for Douma, the largest and most densely-populated area in that farming belt.

Jaish al-Islam has not confirmed any deal with the Syrian government over eastern Ghouta.

More than 45,000 rebels and their families have been evacuated from Eastern Gouta since March 22 to be relocated in Idlib, according to Syrian authorities.

In September, the army evacuates some 300 Daraya inhabitants from neighbouring rebel-held Moadimayet al-Sham, where they had taken refuge three years earlier. The Syrian regime drew closer to taking full control of Eastern Ghouta as state media reported that fighters began evacuating from the last rebel-held pocket of the former opposition stronghold near Damascus.

The evacuation of the rebels and their families from Douma comes as a deal was reached on Sunday between the Islam Army militants and the Syrian army under the mediation of Russian Federation. "Those who want to leave should leave", Essam al-Buidani says in the video, although it was unclear when it was filmed.

Out of the almost 400,000 people besieged in eastern Ghouta for years by Syrian government forces, 130,000 had fled in the last three weeks, Egeland said.

Later on the same day, the head of Jaish al-Islam's political office, Yaser Dilwan, said that negotiations were ongoing and seemed optimistic, but did not offer any details other than to say that different options were suggested.

There was no immediate comment on Monday from the rebels themselves.

The Syrian General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said in a statement that Eastern Ghouta, with the exception of Douma, was now under their control again.

An estimated 140,000 people remain inside Douma, with limited access to food, water and medical supplies.

Buses transporting the rebels left Douma and reached the crossing of Wafideen area northeast of Damascus, before they set off late in the evening to Jarablus in the northern countryside of Aleppo province near the Turkish border.

Since February 19, more than 1,600 people have been killed in attacks by the regime and its allies in eastern Ghouta, according to local civil-defence sources.

The evacuations are part of a Russian-brokered agreement between the Assad regime and armed opposition groups. Thousands chose the north, taking their families with them.

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