Douma (Syria): A final deal appeared to have been reached on Sunday for fighters and civilians to leave the last opposition-held area of Eastern Ghouta, paving the way for Syria’s regime to retake all of the one-time rebel enclave near Damascus.
The agreement brokered by government ally Russia would see fighters with the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction leave Ghouta’s main town of Douma for opposition territory in northern Syria, state media and a monitoring group said. There was no immediate confirmation from the rebels, but state news agency Sana reported that a deal had been reached for the group’s fighters to head to rebel-controlled town of Jarabulus in the northern province of Aleppo.
The retaking of Eastern Ghouta would mark a major milestone in Presi-dent Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to regain control of territory seized by rebel factions during Syria’s seven-year civil war.
Backed by Russia, Mr Assad’s forces have scor-ed a series of victories over rebel forces in recent years, often through aerial bombardment and gro-und offensives that have drawn widespread international condemnation.