Reports of Douma evacuation deal 'not true': council member

Last rebel group quits Ghouta

The Russian Defense Ministry and Syrian rebel fighters struck a deal on Sunday for the Jaish al Islam, the biggest fighting group in the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta, to leave the area for the opposition-controlled north.

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.

The buses are now waiting on the Harasta highway nearby for the militants to settle their dispute.

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

Geneva: The UN humanitarian adviser for Syria called on Wednesday for access to the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, where he said some 80,000-150,000 civilians were "on their knees" after years of siege and fighting.

The comments came on the same day the Syrian army had declared "victory" against rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta.

The Army of Islam did not agree to leave the town, said Iyad Abdelaziz, a member of Douma's current local council.

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The underground maze was found as the last remaining rebel fighters are slowly squeezed out of strongholds in Douma, near Damascus, and eastern Ghouta.

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.

Thousands of civilians returned homes in the villages and towns of eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside after the Syrian Army restored security and stability to them and eradicated the Takfiri terrorist organizations from them.

Backed by Russia, Assad s forces have scored a series of victories over rebel forces in recent years, often through campaigns of siege, aerial bombardment and ground offensives that have drawn widespread worldwide condemnation. They included fighters from the Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups, their families and other residents.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, criticises the "strategy" of forced displacement.

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. He said Turkey was also participating in the talks.

The government offensive in Ghouta has been one of the deadliest of the war, killing more than 1,600 civilians, according to the Observatory.

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