A girl watches people from the window of a bus while evacuating the town of Hamouriyeh in Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, Syria, March 15, 2018. The Syrian army captured the Hamouriyeh district in the capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside after the withdrawal of the Failaq al-Rahman rebel group as 12,500 people evacuated that area on Thursday, a monitor group reported. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)
DAMASCUS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army captured the Hamouriyeh district in the capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside after the withdrawal of the Failaq al-Rahman rebel group as 12,500 people evacuated that area on Thursday, a monitor group reported.
The Syrian government forces have started deploying in Hamouriyeh and set up their positions in that area amid an ongoing evacuation process of civilians from that area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
This comes amid heavy shelling from the government side on the remaining posts of Failaq al-Rahman in the towns of Jisreen, Zamalka, Kafar Batna and Saqba, said the London-based watchdog group.
The observatory added that 12,500 civilians have left the areas of Failaq al-Rahman rebels through Hamouriyeh on Thursday, marking the largest wave of evacuation from civilians since the Russian-backed humanitarian pause for the civilian evacuation started two weeks ago.
It said the Russian and the Syrian government are sending a message that on the seventh anniversary of the Syrian crisis, civilians have started returning to the government side.
The state TV, meanwhile, aired several interviews with people leaving that area, all thanking the Syrian army for saving them.
It's the latest in a series of recent civilian evacuation operations in the rebel-held areas in the east of Damascus.
On Wednesday, around 90 civilians were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta, a day after 146 others left that area.
Earlier in the day, 25 truckloads of aid started to move to the rebel-held district of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The aid convoy was sent in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations.
It's the third aid convoy to enter Douma since the military operations in Eastern Ghouta started late last month.
Last Friday, 13 truckloads of aid entered Douma with 2,400 food parcels and 3,240 bags of wheat flour.
Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.
Four major rebel groups are currently 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.
The UN humanitarian agencies have sounded the alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation for 400,000 people in that region, where activists said over 1,000 people have been killed since late last month by the heavy bombardment and military showdown in areas of Eastern Ghouta.
The Syrian army has captured over 62 percent of Eastern Ghouta in recent days, as part of an ongoing offensive to dislodge rebels from the key areas on the eastern rim of Damascus.
Still, reports say that Douma will be excluded from the military operation as the Islam Army, which is in control of that area, is not designated as a terror group.