Backed by Russia, Assad’s forces have scor-ed a series of victories over rebel forces in recent years.
Syrian Christians stand outside the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus, one of the oldest Greek Orthodox churches in the Syrian capital, after attending a mass to celebrate Palm. (Photo: AFP)
Douma (Syria): A final deal appeared to have been reached on Sunday for fighters and civilians to leave the last opposition-held area of Eastern Ghouta, paving the way for Syria’s regime to retake all of the one-time rebel enclave near Damascus.
The agreement brokered by government ally Russia would see fighters with the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction leave Ghouta’s main town of Douma for opposition territory in northern Syria, state media and a monitoring group said. There was no immediate confirmation from the rebels, but state news agency Sana reported that a deal had been reached for the group’s fighters to head to rebel-controlled town of Jarabulus in the northern province of Aleppo.
The retaking of Eastern Ghouta would mark a major milestone in Presi-dent Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to regain control of territory seized by rebel factions during Syria’s seven-year civil war.
Backed by Russia, Mr Assad’s forces have scor-ed a series of victories over rebel forces in recent years, often through aerial bombardment and gro-und offensives that have drawn widespread international condemnation.