Talks delayed for deal on Eastern Ghouta's last rebel-held town

BEIRUT (dpa)- Talks to finalize a deal to evacuate residents and rebels from Eastern Ghouta's last rebel-held town of Douma in Syria have been delayed until the end of the week, an activist said.
"The talks are now being carried by a civil committee which consists of doctors and engineers as well as military personnel from Douma and the Russian side," Mouad Bouyadani, director of the al-Sham Humanitarian Institution, told dpa.

"The negotiations we are carrying [out] are not easy and we do not expect fast results from it," Bouyadani added.
Douma, which is mainly controlled by Jaish al-Islam, who are known to be supported by Saudi Arabia, is now the only pocket under rebel control inside Eastern Ghouta.
So far, the two other rebels groups present in Eastern Ghouta, Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman, have struck deals brokered by Russia and moved their rebels and their families to areas in Idlib, thus paving the way for the Syrian government to take over most of the enclave.
"They [Douma residents] are afraid because they do not want to face a forced displacement to areas where (the al-Qaeda-linked) Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are. They also do not want to be displaced to areas under government control and face possible arrests," Bouyadani said.
Evacuations conducted over the past week have allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops to strengthen their hold on Eastern Ghouta, which has been the target of severe bombardments in recent weeks.

Thursday, March 29th 2018

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