Takfiri Jaish al-Islam militants start evacuating Syria's Douma

05 April, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Donald Trump

"Jaish al Islam has taken the decision to remain steadfast and the idea of leaving is not on the table", said the official.

Since starting their assault mid-February, Assad's forces have retaken 95 percent of Eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory.

State agency SANA reported that Jaish al-Islam will head to Jarabulus in the northern province of Aleppo, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they would also go to Al-Bab, both towns held by pro-Turkey rebels.

"The operation could continue today or not".

Opposition sources say Jaish al Islam officials have been desperately trying to strike a deal that would bring Russian military police into Douma, and let the group keep a role in maintaining internal security but under the state's overall jurisdiction.

A group of stranded fighters from another insurgent group, Failaq al Rahman, who had fled to Douma from advancing army troops at the start of the latest campaign, left the city on Sunday, state media said.

In the morning, an AFP reporter saw dozens of empty buses waiting by the side of the highway and near a government-held checkpoint used by the buses to enter and exit Eastern Ghouta.

According to the deal reached a day earlier, the Islam Army will hand over their heavy and medium weaponry and a workgroup will be formed under a Russian leadership to supervise the release of the kidnapped soldiers and civilians in the prisons of the Islam Army.

Division within ranks of fighters?

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In video footage published by Jaish al-Islam online on Sunday, the group's leader told a group of men in a mosque he would stay put.

"We need a mechanism of transition", said Evelyn Farkas, a nonresident fellow of the Atlantic Council who was deputy assistant secretary for defense under Obama.

The United States helped Kurdish-led forces drive IS from much of northern and eastern Syria, and has hundreds of troops embedded with them.

Russian Federation is a key backer of Assad.

Aid workers have criticised the living conditions in the temporary camps in government-controlled territory receiving the displaced.

A statement said the military would press on with "fighting in the area of Douma to rid it of terrorism", in reference to the rebels.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus which is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few months, with foreign-sponsored terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.

"The evacuation process is subjected to thorough inspection where buses and luggage are searched and the names of the terrorists are verified to prevent them from smuggling any civilian or military abductees, and to make sure that the terms of the agreement are not violated regarding the personal firearms they are allowed to carry with them while they are leaving", the agency reported.

Mr Charles Lister, a senior fellow and director of the Extremism and Counter-terrorism Programme at the Middle East Institute, noted that a sudden withdrawal of United States forces would immediately bolster Iran, Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Prior to freezing the funds, Trump's declaration of a full withdrawal from Syria was at odds with with what the Pentagon also said on Thursday.

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