Amidst criticism from US, UN and several other countries for allegedly killing civilians, Syrian government forces have gained control over 90 percent of the Eastern Ghouta region where militants continue to leave their last major stronghold near Damascus.
Reuters reports that Syrian forces celebrated the departure of the last group of militants and their families from the town of Harasta in Eastern Ghoutaon Friday.
Under severe pressure from Syrian forces ongoing operations having Russian air force support, militants agreed to leave the area to the other militant-held territory in northwest of the country, close to Turkey border.
Under the agreement between the militants and Syrian government, nearly 70,000 militants and their families were leaving from Saturday morning around the towns of Arbin, Jobar, Zamalka and Ein Terma. This was confirmed by Wael Alwan, spokesman of lesser known group Failaq al-Rahman. In exchange, the groups will release captured government soldiers.
The city of Douma is the last militant stronghold in eastern Ghouta. Negotiations are underway for removing the militants from the city where heavy fighting still continues. Recently, thousands of people have fled Douma into government-held territories.
During the recent weeks, Syria and Russia have cornered the terror groups as part of their campaign to liberate civilians who were being used as human shield by the militants. This was also aimed to end militant attacks from EEastern Ghouta on the capital Damscus.
Earlier, UN had estimated that 400,000 people were trapped inside the besieged area without access to food or medicine and 50,000 others fled the area after the heavy military confrontations started in mid-February.
Due to ongoing campaign Eastern Ghouta was left splintered into three shrinking pockets each held by a separate militant group. However, all the groups, including Jaish al_Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh (IS), who were involved in heinous crimes of killing innocents were following the Saudi nursed Wahabi ideology.
Eastern Ghouta fell to militants in 2012, months after Syria plunged into crisis, and has since served as a launch pad for fatal mortar attacks against residents and infrastructure in the capital. The area is situated not very far from Damascus airport.