There are contradictory reports about foreign-backed militants in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma near Damascus having agreed to leave to the northwestern region of Idlib.
Syrian state television said Friday that a deal had been reached with the militants to leave Douma, the last town under their control in Eastern Ghouta, citing “initial information.”
The Russian military also said it had reached an agreement with the militants to leave Douma. Jaish al-Islam, the terrorist group that controls the town, however, rejected the report.
Moscow and Damascus have announced that the operation is Eastern Ghouta has nearly finished, celebrating Syria’s largest victory against terrorists since the 2016 recapture of Aleppo.
Syrian state media said the number of militants and their families who have left the onetime militant bastion of Eastern Ghouta has surpassed 30,000 around a week into the evacuation process.
According to the Syria’s official SANA news agency, as of Friday a total of 31,890 people had been bused out of the parts of Ghouta that had been controlled by the Faylaq al-Rahman militant group.
After days of what has been described as one of the deadliest episodes in the war against foreign-backed militancy that has gripped Syria since 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have agreed to let the militants flee to Syria’s northern parts in order to save the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire.
The latest developments came a day after the Damascus government gave a final, 72-hour ultimatum for the militants to leave Eastern Ghouta.
The evacuation of began on March 24 following a deal mediated by Russia, which has been pounding terrorist positions inside Syria since 2015 upon a request by Damascus.
A total of around 135,000 people have left the region over the past month, SANA reported. The number includes evacuations through humanitarian corridors provided by Russia as well as the ones who left as part of the evacuation agreements.
The smaller terrorist-held Ghouta area of Harasta, which was controlled by the Ahrar al-Sham group, was declared clear last week after all of terrorists were evacuated.
Talks are under way for a similar deal in Douma, the third and final terrorist bastion, which happens to be Ghouta’s largest town as well.