Syrian Army discovers tunnel network, underground hospitals in liberated E. Ghouta

Syrian government soldiers and journalists in East Ghouta on April 2.

The town of Douma was one of the earliest hubs of the uprising against President Assad in 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says bombardment of the rebel enclave killed more than 1,600 civilians in Ghouta.

And, while Failaq a-Rahman maintains close ties with the rebel factions that rule the Syrian northwest, including the hardline Hay'at Tahrir a-Sham (HTS) coalition, Jaish al-Islam does not.

The deal struck between the group and the Russian military marks the end of a weeks-long push by the Syrian government to consolidate its control of the suburbs.

Referring to "ongoing negotiations" between the Syrian government and armed groups over the evacuation of those left in opposition-held locations of Eastern Ghouta, Mr Egeland said he hoped that people would be allowed to stay if they wished.

Of that number, around 80,000 have gone to shelters in Government-held areas of Rural Damascus and one-third have left voluntarily an important indicator of freedom of movement, the humanitarian official added.

The departure of civilian authorities followed a Saturday morning meeting between several major civil society organizations and Jaish al-Islam leadership in Douma, in which the former requested that civilians be given the option to evacuate, pro-opposition news outlet al-Modon reported at the time. There was no comment from the Army of Islam. The government routinely blocks aid groups from evacuating patients from besieged areas for medical care.

Ahmad Ramadan, a prominent opposition figure in exile, told the Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that the Army of Islam was still engaged in talks with Russian Federation over the future of the town.

Iran and Russian Federation who are the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which lends support to the moderate opposition, have been in close cooperation and collaboration through a series of talks with the aim of finding a solution to the Syrian conflict since past year.

Damascus Countryside Police Command reactivated the work of the police units in Jisrin, Erbin and Harasta in eastern Ghouta and deployed regular patrols to enhance security and safety and to protect the popular and private properties in them. Government forces extended their control over those areas over the course of a five-week offensive that killed at least 1,600 civilians and displaced tens of thousands more, according to the Observatory, an opposition-linked group that monitors both sides of the conflict.

  • Rogelio Becker