Syrian rebels let militants leave eastern Ghouta

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Syria war: Jaish al-Islam to evacuate n of Eastern Ghouta fighters

This frame grab from video provided by Syrian rebels Army of Islam media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows flames rising from a Syrian government forces airstrike attack, in eastern Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria, Friday, March 9, 2018.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus with some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, as Takfiri terrorist outfits have launched mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat, killing around 20 civilians in two weeks.

The presence of H.T.S. has been a chief justification cited by the Syrian government and its most powerful ally, Russia, for the scorched-earth bombing campaign they are carrying out in Eastern Ghouta.

"If I thought about leaving Ghouta I would worry about the regime because there are no guarantees: and, second, I would worry about Jaish al-Islam, because they won't let us leave", said one activist in Douma.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has delivered along with the United Nations and Syrian paramedics urgently needed aid to the besieged eastern suburbs of Damascus "despite fighting that took place extremely close to the humanitarian convoy".

Jaish al-Islam and the other main rebel faction, Failaq al-Rahman, have repeatedly denied that they are in negotiations with Damascus or its ally Russian Federation over their own evacuation.

On another front, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces and allied rebels could enter the northern Syrian town of Afrin "at any moment", a day after they seized another town in the area.

The government, backed in the war by Russian Federation and Iran, is seeking to crush the last major rebel enclave near the capital in a ferocious campaign that the aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says has killed more than 1,000 people.

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The convoy of 13 trucks delivered 2,400 food parcels, which can sustain 12,000 people for one month as well as 3,248 wheat flour bags, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

State media have reported people in eastern Ghouta raising Syrian government flags and holding small protests in support of Assad. Another man said there were 15 families in the basement who have been hiding for days.

It follows a pause in Syrian government air strikes overnight, with the situation in the besieged enclave on Friday described as "calm". Rebels deny this and say the area's inhabitants have not crossed into government territory because they fear persecution. Residents will have to rely on unpaved roads to move in eastern Ghouta but that is hard because of the intensity of shelling and airstrikes, activists said.

Moscow had justified the continued bombardment of the area by saying extremists remained embedded in the towns and were preventing civilians from taking advantage of a designated evacuation corridor to flee the fighting.

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The terror of the bombardment and the increasingly unbearable living conditions may push people to courageous the fighting and flee, according to one resident of Douma. "I don't want to leave, but I don't want any harm to happen to my family", said Abu Ahmad al-Ghoutani, who said he has two children. The Observatory has reported protests in one village to demand an end to the bombardment and the departure of rebels.

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