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Syria says Rebels Leaving Last Opposition Area of Eastern Ghouta


This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian government forces overseeing the evacuation by bus of Army of Islam fighters from the besieged town of Douma, just east of Damascus, Syria, Apr. 2, 2018.

Syrian state media said Monday the largest rebel group in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus began evacuating the last part of the area still under rebel control.

The reports said buses carrying members of the Army of Islam were taking people from the besieged town of Douma to Jarablus in northern Syria.

Recapturing Douma would put eastern Ghouta fully back under control of President Bashar al-Assad's government for the first time since 2012.

The evacuations are similar to those that have taken place in other parts of Syria throughout the country's conflict with rebel fighters and families able to leave areas besieged by government forces and go to places still held by the opposition.


In addition to the years-long siege of eastern Ghouta, pro-government forces have carried out a six-week offensive to reclaim the area that has killed as many as 1,600 civilians.

Douma was one of the Syrian cities that gave birth to the anti-Assad protests in 2011. The protests grew into the current civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, devastated Syrian cities, and helped stoke Cold War-style tension between the United States and pro-Syria Russia.

Pope Francis used part of his Easter message Sunday to again call for the end of what he calls the "carnage" in Syria.

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