Published: Sun, April 08, 2018

Syria Forces Launch Assault On Rebel-Held Douma

Syria Forces Launch Assault On Rebel-Held Douma

State news agency SANA said the attacks were retaliation for the shelling of almost government-held areas by rebels from Jaish al-Islam, which controls Douma.

Rebels have repeatedly fired shells from Eastern Ghouta at government-controlled areas in and around Damascus, the seat of power for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Four civilians lost their lives and more than 30 others were injured after shelling attacks by Jaish al-Islam terrorists on residential neighborhoods in the capital, the official Syrian Arab News Agency said.

Before the fighting resumed, helicopters earlier Friday dropped leaflets on Douma saying rebels should either leave to the northern town of Jarablus or hand over their weapons and receive amnesty with Russian and Syrian government guarantees that would include not drafting young men to the military service until after six to 10 months.

Jaish al-Islam appeared to have agreed to an evacuation deal, as did other groups in two other areas, and indeed around 4,000 fighters and relatives left the town on Monday.

Syrian government forces and rebels on Saturday intensified tit-for-tat attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus and its outskirts as the government was pressing on with a military offensive to retake the last opposition pocket near the city.

The group wants to remain in Douma and none of the fighters have left, according to Mohammad Alloush, a representative for Jaish al-Islam.

Another eight civilians were killed on Saturday as more bombing raids slammed into the town, the Britain-based Observatory said.

The evacuation agreements followed a Russia-backed government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds of people in Eastern Ghouta.

More than 42,000 rebels and civilians are evacuated to Idlib.

"It feels like we're back in the days of the Gaza war" when Israel was bombing the Palestinian enclave and people around the world watched, he said, giving his name only as Mohammed.

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to be sheltering in Douma. The monitor said it could not confirm whether the strikes were carried out by Syrian government warplanes or those of its ally, Russia.

Top Jaish al-Islam political figure Mohammad Alloush yesterday blamed global supporters of Syria's government for hamstringing the talks.

It remains unclear exactly why the talks between Moscow and Jaish al-Islam have faltered.

Those still trapped in Douma had been nervous that any attempt to renege on an evacuation would only prompt Russian Federation and regime warplanes to resume deadly strikes.

Jaish al-Islam said its rocket and artillery brigade were responding to what it described as a massacre by "the Assad militias and their ally the Russian warplanes".

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a terror attack, which was carried out with a bomb-laden vehicle, near the Grand mosque in Al Bab district of Aleppo, Syria on April 07, 2018.

According to Yevtushenko, now "Syrian governmental forces are liberating the city of Douma from uncompromising rebel groups".

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