Takfiri Militant Begin to Leave Douma in Eastern Ghouta

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Syrian President Bashar al Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province Syria

The first fighters from the Army of Islam left the town of Douma in the morning hours as part of an evacuation deal that will hand the town to the Syrian government, reported the state SANA news agency.

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

Jaish al-Islam is the last remaining rebel group in Eastern Ghouta but has repeatedly denied agreeing to leave the area.

Rami Abdurrahman, the Observatory's director, said some factions within the Army of Islam oppose evacuating and effectively surrendering Douma to the government of President Bashar Assad.

The rebels were headed to Jarablus, a town in northern Syria where control of the territory is shared between Syrian rebels and Turkish forces.

Egeland said team members described devastation "even worse" than in Homs and Aleppo, cities that were recaptured by Russian-backed Syrian government forces.

"We hope that that agreement will lead to people being able to stay if they choose to, to get amnesty for those who put away their arms but also to an opportunity to leave for those who choose to leave Douma", he 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.

The Syrian army launched a massive operation in February against the rebels in Eastern Ghouta and secured the evacuation of 150,000 civilians who will return home once the situation stabilizes.

Meanwhile, the Russian peace and reconciliation center in Syria announced on Sunday that militants from Faylaq al-Rahman terror group have completely withdrawn from Eastern Ghouta.

About 130,000 people fled a Damascus suburb during a weeks-long Syrian regime offensive, the United Nations said Monday.

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, adding that evacuations should be voluntary.

Last week, two rebel groups reached an evacuation deal with the Russian army, which resulted in about 19,000 people leaving for the northern province of Idlib. Thousands chose the north, taking their families with them.

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