IS kills 19 regime fighters in east Syria: monitor

IS kills 19 regime fighters in east Syria: monitor

A Russian-brokered deal had been reported on Sunday for fighters with Jaish al Islam (or Army of Islam), the largest rebel group still in Ghouta, to leave the enclave's main town of Douma.

The fighters left the town as part of an evacuation deal that will hand the town to the Syrian government, the state SANA news agency reported.

There was no immediate confirmation from the rebels, but pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan quoted "diplomatic sources" as saying the agreement would see fighters give up heavy weapons and leave Douma for northern Syria.

The deal over Douma would mark the end of a weeks-long push by Assad's forces to consolidate their control over eastern Ghouta, just outside the capital.

The most recent Syrian air and ground offensive on eastern Ghouta, supported Russia's military, killed at least 1,600 people, according to the Observatory.

Two members of the USA -led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State were killed and five others were wounded by an improvised explosive device in northern Syria late on Thursday.

Russian Federation is a key backer of Assad and supported the latest government offensive.

Syrian civilians and fighters arrive in Qalaat al Madiq, some 45 km northwest of the central city of Hama, on April 2, 2018, after being evacuated from the eastern Ghouta town of Douma.

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He said the buses leaving Douma on Monday were transporting wounded fighters as a first step in the evacuations.

The Army of Islam ruled Douma with an iron fist, and embodied a more conservative and intolerant vision for Syria than the one promoted by the civil uprising of 2011. Its power largely derived from Saudi aid and its control of an extensive smuggling network in eastern Ghouta. More than 120,000 others have fled their homes and sought safety with the government, according to Russia's military operation in Syria.

The Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Sunday's deal provides for Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families, as well as civilians who want, to be evacuated to rebel-held areas in the northern province of Aleppo.

Douma has been besieged by government forces since 2013.

It said Russia, Iran, and Turkey - which have negotiated local settlements in different parts of Syria - would oversee the handover of prisoners held by the Army of Islam to the government.

"Turkey will not hesitate to use initiative if terrorists in Manbij are not driven away", a statement on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's presidential website last week read, warning the United States whose special forces there in the northern Syrian town continue to work with Kurdish-led groups.

A British armed forces member also was killed and five other people were wounded in Thursday's bombing- a rare attack since the USA -led coalition sent troops into the country.

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