Rebels surrender heavy arms in Syria's Ghouta, leader exits: monitor

  • Rebels surrender heavy arms in Syria's Ghouta, leader exits: monitor

Rebels surrender heavy arms in Syria's Ghouta, leader exits: monitor

More than 13,500 Syrian rebel fighters and their families have left Douma this month under a so-called evacuation deal between the rebels and the Russian military, a top ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Syrian regime forces have taken full control over the town of Douma, the last opposition stronghold in eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, citing a Russian military official.

"Today saw a landmark event in Syria's history".

The Defence Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the situation in the town of Douma, just east of the Syrian capital, is "normalizing".

Under the agreement, thousands of Jaish al-Islam fighters and civilians have been bussed out of Douma to opposition-controlled parts of Syria's Aleppo province. In return Jaish Al-Islam will release its hostages.

The announcement comes following an alleged chemical attack on the Damascus suburb's Douma district on Saturday, which according to the White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, killed 78 civilians. As many as 250 hostages kept by militants have been released as well.

Russian Federation claimed Wednesday that the attack was staged, and accused the United States of fabricating evidence to justify punitive missile strikes.

The liberation of Douma came amid the looming threats of a USA military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following Saturday's suspected chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet reached a final decision to join forces with USA and France against Syria.

If the United States action follows the pattern of a previous punitive strike on Syria past year, it will begin with a salvo of cruise missiles fired from American warships in the Mediterranean, as Trump implied when he tweeted they would be "nice, new and 'smart'".

This was considered to be in response to Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin's statement who said in an interview on Tuesday with Hezbolah owned al-Manar TV that "If there is a United States missile attack, we- in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff remarks will shoot down U.S. rockets and even the source that launched the missiles".

The latest move comes after US President Donald Trump warned that "missiles will be coming" in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria, as the United Nations chief urged world powers to stop a face-off with Russian Federation from spiraling out of control.

According to Turkish Presidential sources the two leaders "exchanged views on the latest developments in Syria".