Evacuation of rebels from Damascus' Douma suspended amid ongoing negotiations: monitor

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-06 17:49:06|Editor: Lifang
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DAMASCUS, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The evacuation of the Islam Army rebels and their families from the Douma district in the capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside has been suspended amid ongoing negotiations, a monitor group reported on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had information that the suspension of the evacuation process in Douma comes amid ongoing negotiations between the Islam Army and the Russian side.

The negotiations aim to reach a new understanding after a previous recent one has seen the evacuation of three batches of rebels and their families from Douma to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

According to the observatory, the Islam Army put forward new suggestions to the Russians, mainly calling for remaining in Douma with their weapons.

The new proposition also touches upon the situation of the Islam Army in Douma, the last rebel-held area in Eastern Ghouta countryside and in other pockets they still have a presence in such as the Eastern Qalamoun region and southern Damascus.

In case of the collapse of the negotiations, a military operation is expected to be launched on Douma, said the observatory.

Meanwhile, state news agency SANA blamed the suspension of the evacuation on the inner conflict among the Islam Army rebels.

A day earlier, the fourth batch, which was supposed to leave, was suspended and buses left Douma for the nearby highway to wait for a decision to be made regarding the evacuation process.

Activists said the Islam Army rebels are having difficulties when crossing to areas under the Turkish control in northern Syria in their way to Jarablus, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border, which is the designated destination of the Islam Army.

A total of 2,963 militants and their families evacuated Douma in three batches over the past few days under a deal concluded between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces under a Russian mediation.

Douma is the last rebel-held area in Eastern Ghouta, after other towns in that sprawling countryside have seen the evacuation of 43,000 rebels and their families toward Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian army launched a massive operation in February on the rebels in Eastern Ghouta and secured the evacuation of 150,000 civilians who were hosted in government-run shelters until the situation settles in their areas in Eastern Ghouta for their return.