Syrian rebels let militants leave eastern Ghouta

Syrian rebels let militants leave eastern Ghouta

Syrian rebels let militants leave eastern Ghouta

It also raises greater humanitarian concerns and fears for the lives of civilians living in the area, who have fled the government's advance.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in eastern Damascus for weeks and the violence has left almost 1,000 people dead.

"They want out - either the bombing to stop, or to get out". Accurate figures for the dead are impossible to collate because many bodies remain trapped under the rubble of destroyed homes, and others are buried without being taken to hospitals.

On February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which calls for a month-long ceasefire in Syria - especially eastern Ghouta - to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Assad's offensive has come close to splitting the enclave in two, effectively separating its two halves by bringing the narrow strip between them under fire, a commander in the alliance supporting Assad said on Thursday.

The bombardment and encirclement of Douma continued even as rebels in the enclave, which is home to at least 300,000 people, acceded to a key demand by Russian Federation: the evacuation of a few hundred al-Qaida-linked fighters in the enclave.

Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, the two main insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, say they have staged counter-attacks in recent days that retook some lost positions.

A clear strategy of the Syrian government's offensive in Eastern Ghouta has been to divide the enclave into isolated sections and so cut off rebel support and supply networks, the BBC's Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher says - and now the government appears to have all but achieved that goal. The channel has been reporting since last week that rebels have prevented civilians from leaving.

There were no medical supplies on board Friday's convoy, which was carrying food that aid workers were unable to distribute on Monday.

Almost 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on Feb 18.

Fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group made up mostly of al-Qaeda's ex-affiliate al-Nusra Front, are to be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, Jaish al-Islam said in a statement published on Twitter. Hassan has sent us video footage of the beleagured town.

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