5 set free from Islam Army's captivity in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta

Eastern Ghouta evacuation

The release of kidnapped people by the rebels was in light of the agreement reached between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces that demands the rebels to release the people they kidnapped as a prelude for the evacuation of the militants out of Douma, according to SANA.

In the past 24 hours, an additional 1,100 Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families have left the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Russia's defence ministry also said.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

It was the first organized evacuation of fighters from Douma, one of the earliest centers of the anti-government demonstrations that swept through the country in 2011.

A military source told Reuters on Monday that some elements of Jaish al-Islam were still rejecting a deal and that military force would be used if they refused to accept one.

At the regime-held Wafideen checkpoint, the delayed evacuation came as a huge disappointment for families who were hoping to reunite with relatives who they say were being held by the rebels.

"A clear message was sent to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the area: either reconciliation and disarmament - handing weapons to the Syrian government as the Russians describe it - or departing eastern Qalamoun", the rebel spokesperson was quoted as saying.

And, while Failaq a-Rahman maintains close ties with the rebel factions that rule the Syrian northwest, including the hardline Hay'at Tahrir a-Sham (HTS) coalition, Jaish al-Islam does not.

Saif told Reuters the civilians who met the Russian and Syrian military officers had expressed concern that a departure of rebel fighters would leave them vulnerable to attack by jihadists from Nusra Front or Islamic State.

Geneva: The UN humanitarian adviser for Syria called on Wednesday for access to the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, where he said some 80,000-150,000 civilians were "on their knees" after years of siege and fighting.

A number of civilian Douma residents, including the city's local council, several civil defense members and local activists, were among the 1,146 people who left the city on Sunday, pro-opposition sources reported.

Opposition officials, however, denied the reports.



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