Thousands leave Douma as evacuations wrap up
Thousands of opposition fighters and their relatives left the Syrian town of Douma they once controlled as the last evacuations from Eastern Ghouta continued Friday (April 13th), AFP reported.
Jaish al-Islam fighters left overnight with thousands of civilians on board 85 buses that took them to areas of northern Syria still held by opposition factions.
The evacuations are part of a deal brokered by the Syrian regime’s ally, Russia, to re-establish regime control over Eastern Ghouta, an area outside Damascus.
"After midnight, 85 buses left Eastern Ghouta carrying 4,000 people, both fighters and civilians," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Over the past few days, most of the Jaish al-Islam fighters have left Douma in four successive waves," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The group was the last in the enclave to resist the exit proposed by Russia, but an alleged chemical attack by the regime on April 7th appeared to break its will.
The regime has consistently denied the attack, and a delegation of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) watchdog arrived in Damascus to investigate.
They are expected to start their work on Saturday.
"The evacuation operation should wrap up before the OPCW experts enter Douma," Abdel Rahman said.