110000 civilians evacuate Damascus' Eastern Ghouta

28 March, 2018, 01:14 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Russia expects fresh exit deal with more rebels in Syria's Ghouta

The Syrian Army has already liberated at least 70 percent of the territory of Eastern Ghouta, which has been controlled by terrorist groups including the al-Nusra Front since 2012.

On Monday, a convoy of 56 buses carrying 3,641 people, including 850 fighters from various rebel factions, was preparing to leave the towns of Jobar, Zamalka, Ein Terma, and Arbeen toward Idlib, state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV reported. It put the total figure of civilians and rebels evacuated from the area since the Russia-sponsored "humanitarian pauses" were announced at 114,000 people.

Gadzhimagomedov, who is the deputy head of the Chief Operational Department at the Russian General Staff, said he expects Russian troops to "take them out soon", and that the rebels have reportedly indicated their willingness to lay down arms.

They have usually begun with the military encirclement of an area, followed by bombardment and a ground operation before a deal is reached.

Eastern Ghouta lies within mortar range of Damascus, and rebels had used it repeatedly as a launchpad for rocket attacks on the capital.

In Harasta, a Russia-brokered evacuation agreement mandated rebels release people they were detaining, and provided for hundreds of opposition fighters and members of their families to be bused out of the devastated town.

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The regime responded with a crippling half-decade siege of the enclave's 400,000 residents, sealing off access to food, medicines and other goods. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the mass evacuation.

Devastating air strikes and artillery fire have reduced large parts of Ghouta to ruins, forcing their residents to abandon them.

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. Should rebels lose their grip on Douma, their last stronghold in Eastern Ghouta, the opposition would be left with most of Idlib, Daraa and some parts of the northern suburbs of Homs.

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.

It would also provide for the deployment of Russian military police and the return of regime institutions and basic services like water and electricity. "This sped up the regime's advance".

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