Rebels free five prisoners in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Syrian state media last rebel group starts leaving Ghouta

Jaish al-Islam has been in Russian-brokered negotiations with the Syrian government for several days now. The Syrian regime drew closer to taking full control of Eastern Ghouta as state media reported that fighters began evacuating from the last rebel-held pocket of the former opposition stronghold near Damascus.

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

"A group of buses carrying a number of Jaish al-Islam terrorists and their families leave Douma in preparation of them being transported to Jarablus", Syria's state news agency SANA reported.

Rami Abdurrahman, the Observatory's director, said some factions within the Army of Islam oppose evacuating and effectively surrendering Douma to the government of President Bashar Assad.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation, have now recaptured almost all of eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, from the rebels in a ferocious assault that began in February, marking a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad. The assault on Eastern Ghouta since mid-February has killed more than 1,600 civilians and caused tens of thousands to flee into regime-held territory.

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Russian Federation is a key backer of Assad.

The Syrian army launched a massive operation last late 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. Others are refugees who recently left eastern Ghouta. They included fighters from the Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups, their families and other residents.

They included 80,000 people now in collective centres in government-controlled areas, where conditions were bad, while 50,000 fled to opposition-held Idlib - which he called "the biggest cluster of displacement camps in the world" with around 1.5 million people.

The second largest chunk of Syrian territory is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias spearheaded by the Syrian Kurdish YPG and supported by the US -led coalition against Islamic State. According to Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian Reconciliation Center, the armed militants were allowed to leave Douma after they provide minefield and tunnel maps and voluntarily clear buildings and transport routes of mines before exiting.

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