April 20, 2018

Fresh raids pound Syria's rebel Douma

08 April 2018, 01:08 | Marta Robbins

Fresh raids pound Syria's rebel Douma

Fresh raids pound Syria's rebel Douma

At least 47 people have been killed in two days of attacks in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, according to sources with the White Helmets civil defense agency.

State television acknowledged four buses had left Douma, the precept metropolis in Jap Ghouta and the one opposition holdout after a six-week Russia-backed regime offensive.

"The bombing still hasn't stopped".

Government forces have seized at least 50 farms in the vicinity of Douma in the fight against the rebel Jaish al-Islam rebel faction that controls the town, according to the Observatory. Reports suggest the Jaish al-Islam rebels remaining in the city are increasingly split on the question of evacuating.

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to be sheltering in Douma.

The group appears to have little leverage however to face the regime's recovered might, and the latest strikes raised fears of a brutal end to the five-year-old siege of Eastern Ghouta.

Following a preliminary accord announced by Russian Federation on Sunday, almost 3,000 fighters and civilians were evacuated from Douma to northern Syria.

Assad's forces and Jaish al-Islam began negotiations ten days ago.

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Top Army of Islam official Mohammed Alloush denied in an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV that there are disagreements within the group, saying that what they are concerned about is the safety of civilians in Douma.

Moscow announced a deal with the group last Sunday, ushering in three consecutive days of evacuations from Douma that saw almost 3,000 fighters and civilians bussed to northern Syria.

The members of the Jaish al-Islam group have carried out attacks on the positions of the government forces and resumed rocket and mortar shelling on Damascus...

Another eight civilians were killed on Saturday as more bombing raids slammed into the town, the Britain-based Observatory said. Another said she had been riding in a taxi when the shelling started, and the vehicle crashed head-on into a wall.

"The talks were going well", he said, but power struggles between the regimes allies had caused them to break down.

"The regime is trying to tighten the noose around Douma from the west, east, and south", said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. Fighters and civilians with familial ties to the group are being rejected, residents said.An activist interviewed Friday said the choice to stay had not been his own, after Jaish al-Islam declined to clear two of his relatives to leave and held up his application as a result.

Army of Islam Military spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar told The Associated Press by text message, "the Russians are making humiliating demands that mean surrender and handing over the area".

Those still trapped in Douma had been nervous that any attempt to renege on an evacuation would only prompt Russian Federation and regime warplanes to resume deadly strikes.

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