Regime Forces Carry Out Field Executions in Syria's Ghouta

Two out of three rebel groups that had been controlling the enclave have already surrendered, with thousands of fighters and their relatives departing for opposition-held areas in the north of the country.

Syrian government forces and allied militia have recaptured about 80 percent of the former rebel bastion since they launched a brutal offensive last month that has left hundreds of people dead and rendered many more homeless.

Russian troops said yesterday that they expected to reach an agreement in talks with a Syrian insurgent group that would see it leave the last rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta.

Thousands of Failaq al-Rahman fighters, accompanied by their families, are leaving their zone of eastern Ghouta in a negotiated withdrawal to insurgent territory in northern Syria.

One area was emptied under such a deal in recent days and evacuations began late on Saturday for a second part, held by the Islamist Faylaq al-Rahman rebel faction.

Almost 1,000 people - including rebels, their relatives and other civilians - were moved out on Saturday, followed by 5,435 people on Sunday.

The city of Duma, however, was left out of the agreement, to yet face an unknown fate, being under the control of "Jaysh al-Islam", which threatened to keep the fight on and refused to depart from the area, amidst talks about negotiations that include it and Russians.

Eastern Ghouta lies within mortar range of Damascus, and rebels had repeatedly used it as a launchpad for rocket attacks on the capital.

Separately, he mentioned the forthcoming April 4 summit between Turkey, Iran and Russia in Istanbul, which Yuva said would "give a new dimension to the process of Syrian settlement against the backdrop of the development and strengthening of Russian-Turkish cooperation on Syria".

"The Army of Islam has taken the decision to stay put, but there is hope they will change their mind", said a Douma-based opposition activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The United Nations says around 55,000 of them are housed in very basic conditions in regime-run temporary shelters on the edge of Ghouta.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels were divided on a deal with Moscow.

Russian military police, but not Syria's army, would deploy there. Some 200,000 people, including many who fled other parts of Ghouta, are estimated to remain in the town.

But internal divisions within opposition ranks were holding up the talks, Abdel Rahman told AFP.

  • Rogelio Becker