Eastern Ghouta: Syrian regime gives Jaish al-Islam rebels final ultimatum

Eastern Ghouta: Syrian regime gives Jaish al-Islam rebels final ultimatum
2 min read
29 March, 2018
The rebel group currently holds Douma, the only town the Syrian regime has not seized since beginning its Ghouta offensive last month.
Rebel fighters wait to be bused out of Eastern Ghouta after striking evacuation deal [Getty]
The Syrian regime has given the Jaish al-Islam group a final, three-day ultimatum to leave the last remaining rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta. 

The 72-hour deadline began on Wednesday night, according to Syrian state TV. 

Jaish al-Islam, which controls Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta, has been in talks for days with Russian mediators. The Syrian regime insists on the rebel group leaving the area for Idlib in northern Syria, as other rebels have done as part of several evacuation agreements.

At least 121,000 of Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 residents have left the area as per the agreements that allowed both civilians and fighters to evacuate.

Jaish al-Islam spokesman Ammar al-Hassan said on Thursday that rebels have rejected the regime's demand they leave the enclave. 

Since the Syrian regime, with Russian backing, began its offensive in Eastern Ghouta, more than 90 per cent of the area has been retaken.

Most residents expect Eastern Ghouta to follow the same trajectory as Eastern Aleppo in 2016, which the regime retook after heavy bombardment paved the way for a ground offensive in the area.

At least 1,600 have died since the regime began its air and ground campaign in Eastern Ghouta on February 18. 

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