Syrian regime close to seizing rebel-held Qaboun

Syrian regime close to seizing rebel-held Qaboun
2 min read
14 May, 2017
Rebels and their family members are trapped in a square kilometre zone in Qaboun as regime forces continue to dislodge opposition groups from their Damascus foothold.
Regime forces resumed pounding Qaboun on Wednesday after delivering an ultimatum [Anadolu]
The Syrian Regime and its allied forces are close to seizing the entirety of the rebel-held district of Qaboun on the outskirts of Damascus, opposition groups and state media said on Sunday.

Rebels, however, maintained that they still held a small pocket within the neighbourhood, which has been largely reduced to rubble after weeks of pounding by regime airstrikes.

The Syrian army resumed its punishing bombing campaign on Wednesday after giving rebels in the area a one-day ultimatum to surrender and evacuate areas under their control.

"The regime has threatened to destroy what is left of Qaboun and will not accept anything but a military solution," local councillor Abdullah al Qabouni told Reuters.

Following the ultimatum, hundreds of rebel fighters and their families have fled from the adjacent Barzeh district. The rebels gave up their arms and evacuated to rebel-held Idlib province.

Unconfirmed reports from local sources in the district claimed that an evacuation agreement had been made to evacuate Qaboun on Sunday. A news report on Syrian state television said the evacuations had begun on Sunday, citing the governor of Damascus.

A news bulletin on state television said evacuations had begun, quoting the governor of Damascus. No other details were provided on the numbers.

Around 1,500 relatives and their families remain trapped in an area as small as a square kilometre.

The loss of Qaboun would deal another heavy blow to rebels, who are trying to maintain their presence in Syria's capital after losing Barzeh to regime forces.

The United Nations has criticised the Syrian government's use of siege tactics and forced displacement during evacuations.

Rebels have accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of enforcing demographic changes that will see Shia militias and loyalists take over their homes.