Syria hands militants ultimatum to leave border area
Syrian government forces and their allies have reportedly given a 72-hour deadline to militants encircled in a strategic border area near Lebanon and Israel to either leave or face military defeat.
The militants have been cornered in the town of Beit Jin, which sits in the foothills of Mount Hermon in southwestern Syria.
Citing militant sources, Reuters reported on Tuesday that the government has given them an ultimatum to either leave for the northwestern Idlib Province, which holds the largest concentrations of Takfiri militants in Syria, or face military action.
Syrian forces managed last week to regain control of the hills and farms around Beit Jin, making the town the last militant stronghold in the area, where the borders of Lebanon and Israeli-occupied territories meet Syria.
The town located southwest of Damascus is known as Western Ghouta. It was recaptured by government forces last year.
Syria accuses Israel of aiding the militants in the area. Tel Aviv has been reported, time and again, to provide anti-Damascus militants with material support and medical treatment. The regime also carries out regular strikes at Syrian targets in support of the militants.
Backed by Russian airpower and Iranian advisory support, Syrian soldiers and their allied popular defense groups have managed to liberate many areas through concentrated military operations. In several areas, they have also reached settlements with militants to enable their evacuation to Idlib.
On Tuesday, members of the Takfiri al-Nusra Front militant group agreed to surrender the southwestern outskirts of Syria’s Rif Dimashq Governorate and move to the provinces of Idlib and Dara’a.
Syria’s Operations Command said the Nusra terrorists had entered into talks with the government after their failure to counter the army’s advances on the battlefield.
Medical evacuations begin
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria said on Wednesday that evacuations of patients had begun from the militant-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta to Damascus.
The United Nations had asked the Syrian government to facilitate the process.
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said four patients were taken to hospitals in Damascus, the first of 29 critical cases approved for medical evacuation, and the remainder would be evacuated over the coming days.
The evacuations were made possible after the government reached a settlement with the so-called Jaish al-Islam terrorist group to exchange detainees.