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Syria's war: Surprise rebel evacuation from Eastern Ghouta

Syria's war: Surprise rebel evacuation from Eastern Ghouta”

Eastern Ghouta has been besieged since 2013 but a relentless assault over the past three weeks has seen the Syrian army capture half of the territory, and is estimated to have killed almost 1,000 people.

Syrian government forces succeeded Saturday in their deepest push yet into the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, cutting off a major highway that made it hard to move between three parts of the rebel-held area, and inflicting a major blow to opposition fighters who have vowed not to surrender.

It showed footage of people getting onto a bus.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops captured the Kilani gas station on the main highway linking Douma with Harasata and those two areas with the rest of eastern Ghouta.

An aid convoy that failed to deliver humanitarian supplies to Syria's besieged eastern Ghouta last week due to violence delivered "urgently needed" aid on Friday despite fighting, which took place extremely close to the convoy, the Red Cross said.

The Syrian government does not cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) believing that the body is propagating the anti-Syrian policy of western countries, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said.

But the government of President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue military operations, as it regards nearly all rebel groups as terrorists.

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Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, the two main insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, located just outside the capital Damascus, say they have staged counter-attacks in recent days that retook some lost positions.

He told NPR the United Nations convoys delivering food and medical supplies had again come under government fire Friday.

Bilal Abu Salah, a resident of Douma, said shortages were causing great hardship.

The four civilians were trying to pass through a recently opened humanitarian corridor from Jisrein to Mlekha during the twelfth humanitarian pause, SANA reported citing its journalist on the ground on Saturday. The district is besieged by Syrian government forces.

However, the terror of the bombardment and the desperate living conditions are taking their toll and may push people to courageous the fighting and flee. A Reuters reporter said there was small arms and mortar fire from rebel areas on the al-Wafideen crossing on Friday.

"I don't want to leave, but I don't want any harm to happen to my family", said Douma resident Abu Ahmad al-Ghoutani, who said he has two children. Meanwhile, Syrian state TV reported that the battles in eastern Ghouta have intensified.



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