Confusion in Douma as council deny reports of Jaish al-Islam 'evacuation deal'

Confusion in Douma as council deny reports of Jaish al-Islam 'evacuation deal'
An opposition council in the last rebel stronghold in Eastern Ghouta have denied reports of a deal being struck between Jaish al-Islam and the Syrian regime.
2 min read
02 April, 2018
Thousands of Syrian civilians have left their homes in Eastern Ghouta [Getty]

Douma council have denied reports that a powerful rebel group in control of the Eastern Ghouta town have agreed to hand over the last opposition bastion in the area to the Syrian regime.

It follows reports Sunday that Jaish al-Islam have struck a deal with Russia to evacuate the area, according to Moscow military officials, Hizballah, and Syrian regime media.

Early reports suggested that the rebel fighters and civilians would be evacuated to Jarabalus, a northern Syrian town under the control of Turkey and the Syrian opposition.

Hours after the opposition denied these reports and Russia again insisted that a preliminary agreement with Jaish al-Islam to surrender Douma had been struck.

It said that Jaish al-Islam would provide maps detailing the tunnels and mines it had planted in Douma to the Russians before they leave.

Talks have been ongoing between the Syrian opposition and Russia over the fate of Douma, the last town in Eastern Ghouta still under rebel control.

Other areas have been surrendered to the Syrian regime in recent weeks as part of so-called evacuation deals, which sees rebel fighters, their families, and other civilians leave their homes for other opposition areas as the regime take control.

These agreements came after intense Russian and Syrian regime bombardments of the territories outside Damascus, which killed over 1,600 civilians.

It leaves only Douma in the control of the Syrian opposition and so far, powerful rebel group Jaish al-Islam have so far resisted pressure to surrender the town and are said to be waiting out for a more favourable terms.

Iyad Abdelaziz of Douma council said that although no deal about the future of the town had been agreed, medical cases would be allowed to leave the besieged territory on Monday.

The Syrian regime have blocked the entry of food and medical supplies into besieged territories such as Douma and prevented the sick and injured leaving.

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for much of the war and has been subject to some of the most intense shelling and bombing by the Syrian regime and Russia. 

In 2013, Eastern Ghouta was targeted with sarin gas, killing hundreds of civilians.

Syrian opposition groups have also fired mortars into Damascus.

Years of bombing and siege by the Bashar al-Assad regime have devastated the area that was once the bread basket of Syria.