Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Russian Federation in talks with last rebel group in Ghouta

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Kurdish policy has fallen on its head Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Kurdish policy has fallen on its head
Gerardo Duncan | 06 April, 2018, 11:00

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

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of the Syrian warring parties, said Sunday that the fighters are to hand over maps of mined areas and underground tunnels while leaving the Douma area of Eastern Ghouta.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beirut says one suggestion is that the rebels may lay down their arms and in return become part of a security force recognised by the Syrian government.

Footage obtained by Ruptly shows narrow corridors carved into the earth, linking up remarkably sophisticated rooms lined with hospital beds for those injured fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces. Some 1,300 fighters, activists, and civilians signed up to leave the town, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

An inner rift among the Islam Army rebels in the Syrian capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside has delayed their planned evacuation on Thursday, state news agency SANA reported.

The government lost control of Douma, the largest urban center in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, in the early phase of Syria's civil war, now in its eighth year.

The deal struck between the group and the Russian military marks the end of a weeks-long push by the Syrian government to consolidate its control of the suburbs.

Fighters from the Army of Islam would evacuate to Jarablus, a town in the northern Aleppo province that is shared between rebel and Turkish control. Meanwhile, jihadist groups, rebels and their families relocated out of the Eastern Ghouta area and into other rebel-held areas.

There was no immediate comment from the Army of Islam.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that 24 buses in the past 24 hours have taken more than 1,100 rebels and their families to the rebel-held north of Syria.

Syrian state TV separately said the army had freed the four women and a man from the militants as part of "efforts by the Syrian state to liberate all the prisoners in Douma".

Turkey, alarmed by the growth of Kurdish influence in Syria, has recently expanded its foothold in the north of the country by seizing the northwestern Afrin region from the YPG, supported by Turkey-backed Syrian militias.

The United Nations does not have any reports on any recent fighting or air raids in Syria's Eastern Ghouta following years of "besiegement and suffering", Jan Egeland, the adviser on humanitarian issues to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said Wednesday.

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