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Biggest convoy yet leaves rebel pocket of Syria's Ghouta, state media says

Biggest convoy yet leaves rebel pocket of Syria's Ghouta, state media says

The first round of negotiations between the Douma-based rebels and the Russians included talks on improving shelters for displaced civilians, the statement added.

The agreement with Faylaq al-Rahman was announced on Friday and its implementation started the following morning.

The group reached a deal with Moscow on Friday and its implementation began the following morning with almost 1,000 people boarding buses and leaving.

Rebel fighters gather and pray before they leave, at city limits of Harasta Thomson Reuters BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebel factions are blaming each other for opening the way to their defeat near Damascus, underlining splits that plagued the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad since its earliest days.

The group's spokesman Wael Alwan on Monday confirmed that "the evacuations are continuing today", but could not provide detailed numbers.

One, implemented last week, saw hardline Islamist rebels from Ahrar al-Sham leave the battered town of Harasta in the west of the enclave.

"The ongoing negotiations with Russian Federation are to stay in Douma, not to leave it", Jaish al-Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar said late yesterday.

Jaish al-Islam is accusing the other rebels of not helping with joint defense, and Failaq al-Rahman in particular of cutting off water to fill trenches.

Al Watan quoted Syrian legislator Mohammed Kheir Seiryoul, who is originally from Douma, as saying that the understanding could lead to an agreement to dissolve Jaish al Islam.

On February 18, the regime, its ally Russian Federation and loyalist militia launched an all-out air and ground assault that killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russian military police, but not Syria's army, would deploy there.

Residents trapped in Douma said they wanted a quick settlement to end the siege.

As for locals, Abu Ayman, 30, said: "I've spent my whole life here and lived the revolution".

Some had already fled into government-held zones, using a corridor opened by regime troops.

The exodus came after 15,000 people left the Douma pocket in the five previous days, according to the Observatory. The Syrian Government forces, committed to rebuilding the social and economic infrastructure damaged by the war in Eastern Ghouta, recovered more than 80 percent of this territory from the control of terrorists.

"I'm leaving because I'm sick, weak, because there are shortages and hunger", 53-year-old Fayez Ali Thaljah told AFP as he left. "We couldn't even find fodder to eat".


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