Syria: Rebel group, Russians forge Ghouta plan

A boy holds a tray of cookies in the besieged town of Douma Eastern Ghouta

The departure of opposition fighters from the powerful Ahrar al-Sham group could become an example for rebels in other towns, bringing President Bashar Assad's government closer to recapturing the entire territory after years of siege and relentless bombardment.

Whilst events further north in Douma city might yet take on a full military character, it appears that the insurgent presence there will be mostly sorted through diplomatic means at this point.

Syrian state news agency, SANA, reported that more than 4,000 people left Ghouta on Friday.

Syrian forces have split Eastern Ghouta into three pockets, which are under the control of three different rebel groups. There, the rebels will evacuate and head for the northwestern province of Idlib.

In the rebel-held northwestern city of Idlib, a auto bomb exploded near a court building killing at least six people and wounding 25, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense. More buses began to leave on Friday carrying fighters and their family members.

Eight government supporters released by Faylaq al-Rahman told state TV about the mistreatment they were subjected to while being held underground and given little food and water.

The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Douma is effectively the last city still under total rebel control for awhile no agreement remains on withdrawal.

The combatants handed over their heavy weapons and left Harasta as part of an agreement reached between the Syrian authorities and the Islamic Movement of the Free People of the Levant (frequently referred to as Ahrar al-Sham).

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"Our situation in Harasta was very tragic", Abu Mohammed, a civilian told AFP in the town of Maarat al-Ikhwan.

Mr Al Assad's forces look set to expand their control soon over another key area after Islamist group, Faylaq Al Rahman, struck a deal to leave starting at 0700 GMT on Saturday.

Another person released said "they used to beat us, keep us hungry and place us underground in the cold and we did not know when they would kill us". "Today is a session to find a solution to end this human suffering, whatever the cost", he said on television.

"Attacks of bombardments, all kinds of illegal weapons being used", a United Nations official said Friday referring to reports of intense airstrikes targeting Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta.

They said the majority of victims in Arbin were women and children.

The government-controlled SCMM said a corridor was prepared for Faylaq al-Rahman members and their relatives to leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbeen, Ein Tarma and Jobar.

AFP video and pictures from Douma, which is controlled by the Salafist rebel faction Jaish Al Islam, showed bright white streams falling from the sky in a fashion consistent with incendiary munitions.

The offensive on eastern Ghouta has caused widespread outrage and marked one of the darkest episodes of a war that entered its eighth year this month.

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