Syria regime chemical attacks against opposition since 2011, says SNHR


Buses carrying Syrian civilians and rebels began leaving the last opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta Tuesday on a second day of evacuations, as the regime eyed the total reconquest of the enclave. "There are divisions among the Jaish al-Islam group on their leaving but we are continuing preparations", the military source said.

Following tough negotiations held between both parties, Jaish al-Islam and Moscow reached a final deal to evacuate fighters and civilians from the city of Douma, the last rebel-held bastion in the Eastern Ghouta enclave, opening the way for regime forces to capture the entire area.

"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. There was no comment from the Army of Islam.

It was the first organized evacuation of fighters from Douma, one of the earliest centers of the anti-government demonstrations that swept through the country in 2011.

A total of 40,000 civilians have returned home in the Syrian capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta, where the army almost gained full control, the state news agency SANA reported Tuesday.

State media has said Jaish al-Islam had accepted a deal giving its fighters safe passage to towns that are located in a buffer zone on the border with Turkey that is controlled by the Turkish military and allied Syrian rebel groups.

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An opposition official told the Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that the Army of Islam was still engaged in talks with Russian Federation over the future of Douma. The security services responded by putting the town and other suburbs around Damascus under siege, bombing hospitals and residential areas, and blocking food and medical relief.

It says a local council for Douma will be formed with the approval of the central government. Since then more than 46,000 people, about a quarter of whom are fighters, have reached Idlib, according to Syrian authorities.

Since February 19, more than 1,600 people have been killed in attacks by the regime and its allies in eastern Ghouta, according to local civil-defence sources.

Russian Federation is a key backer of Assad.

Elsewhere in Syria, Russian and Syrian military officers told rebels in Eastern Qalamoun, about 25 miles northeast of Damascus, they must accept regime rule or leave.

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.