Talks over last rebel pocket in Ghouta stall

For three days, she has been sleeping on the grass outside Harasta, living off food and drink that soldiers stationed in the area have shared with her from their rations.Ahmad says opposition fighters abducted her, her father and brother after they overran the Ghouta area of Adra in December 2013, but she alone was released.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, gave the group 48 hours to agree to leave or face a final assault on the town, where Syrian opposition activists say some 150,000 civilians are trapped.

Tens of thousands of civilians and fighters left battered Eastern Ghouta, where some streets have been bombed to the ground, after all but one of its main rebel groups reached agreements with Russian Federation to withdraw, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The town is also home to tens of thousands of people, including many who were displaced over the past weeks of fighting as regime forces pushed deeper into eastern Ghouta.

After being hit with what appeared to be incendiary muniitions in Douma, the last rebel-held enclave, the Jaish al-Islam rebel group also opened negotiations with Russian Federation on March 23.

"Negotiations are ongoing, but they've been delayed by internal differences in the rebel group", Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.

To help the regime capture the rest, Moscow began talks with the rebels in each area.

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On Monday, more than 3,600 people, including hundreds of rebels, piled into more than 50 buses to leave the Faylaq-held pocket, state television said.

Lt. Gen. Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov told Russian news agencies on Monday in Syria that Russia's military is in talks with the Army of Islam rebel group for it to leave Douma.

A convoy comprising 100 buses carrying almost 7,000 evacuated Syrian rebel fighters and civilians began leaving eastern Ghouta overnight, state media said on Tuesday.

In previous evacuations about 6,000 people have already left the towns of Harasta, which was controlled by the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, as well as Irbin, Zamalka, Jobar and the district of Ain Tarma, which were controlled by the Faylaq ar-Rahman rebel group.

Before they faltered, talks over Douma's fate had envisioned Jaish al-Islam laying down its heavy weapons in exchange for government-provided water and electricity returning to the town.

Al-Watan said the parties had three days to study the deal.

"But I could never live alongside regime forces", he added. "We couldn't even find fodder to eat".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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