Estimated One Thousand Failaq al-Rahman Militants Leave Syrian Douma

Estimated One Thousand Failaq al-Rahman Militants Leave Syrian Douma

Journalists on the ground said both the regime and the rebels had restricted access to the evacuation operation from Douma.

Successive evacuation deals were reached with rebel forces in parts of the enclave, with more than 45,000 fighters and civilians bussed out in recent weeks.

Four major rebel groups were now positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

Jaish al-Islam, which has been defending the eastern Ghouta town of Douma against a ferocious onslaught by Russian-backed Assad regime forces, has not confirmed the agreement with the regime.

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The Syrian army command said on Saturday it had regained most of the towns and villages in eastern Ghouta and was pressing its military operations in Douma.

Years of bombing and siege by the Bashar al-Assad regime have devastated the area that was once the bread basket of Syria. The deal was reached between the Islamist group and Russian military forces backing Assad, the United Kingdom -based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"A total of 448 Jaish al-Islam terrorists and their families left Douma prior to being transported to Jarabulus city", which lies some 398 kilometers (248 miles) northeast of the capital, Damascus, Syria's official news agency SANA reported on Monday.

Government forces taking back most of eastern Ghouta reopens a major network of roads and highways that link Damascus with other parts of the country that have been closed since 2012 when rebels captured eastern suburbs of the capital. Tens of thousands of other civilians have fled to regime-held territory.

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These include more than 1,000 people - fighters from another faction, Faylaq al-Rahman, and family members - who left Douma late Sunday, according to regime media.

On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 that called for a cease-fire in Syria - especially in Eastern Ghouta - to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Assad, who has military support from Iran and Russian Federation, now controls the bulk of Syria, though it may be hard for him to recover much more territory without risking a collision with other foreign powers that have forces inside the country.

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. "Those who want to leave should leave", Essam al Buidani says in the video, although it was unclear when it was filmed.

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