ISIS kills 19 regime fighters in east Syria: Monitor

ISIS kills 19 regime fighters in east Syria: Monitor

The towns of Zamalka, Arbeen, Ayn Tarma and Jobar in the capital Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside have become empty of rebels on Saturday with the last batch leaving toward rebel-held areas in northern Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

The government is waiting for the rebels to leave the besieged town of Douma, just east of Damascus, before it can say it has full control of the area, after seven years of revolt.

A civilian committee taking part in the negotiations with Russian Federation said a deal had been reached "to evacuate humanitarian cases to northern Syria".

Talks with Jaysh al-Islam for the evacuation of Douma have dragged on for several days, with residents growing nervous.

The Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Sunday's deal provides for Jaish al-Islam fighters and their families, as well as civilians who want, to be evacuated to rebel-held areas in the northern province of Aleppo.

Indicating divisions in Jaish al-Islam, a Syrian military source told Reuters some of the fighters were rejecting the deal and the regime army would use force unless they accepted it.

Earlier Sunday, an agreement had been reached with civil authorities in Douma for hundreds of civilians to leave for Idlib, a northwestern province still largely outside regime control, the Observatory said.

Jaish al-Islam officials have stated on multiple occasions that the faction will not consider any agreement stipulating the evacuation of its forces from Douma, while the Syrian government threatens to renew attacks on the city if rebels do not leave.

Syria's war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with a brutal repression of anti-regime protests.

Pro-regime newspaper Al Watan said in an editorial on Monday it was a matter of hours until Douma was declared a "town empty of terrorism".

While Jaish al-Islam and Failaq a-Rahman previously fought together against pro-government forces, the two factions share a long history of violent infighting for control of East Ghouta.

"Our position is consistent and clear", he said.

The Syrian army command said on Saturday it had regained most of the towns and villages in eastern Ghouta and was pressing its military operations in Douma.

Jaish Al Islam counts around 10,000 fighters, according to the observatory.

At least 46,000 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta since the evacuation process began on March 22.

After pounding it with air strikes, regime forces have taken back most of the enclave through a combination of ground assaults and Russia-brokered evacuation deals.

More than 4,000 people also left the devastated town of Harasta last week under a deal with the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group.

An old woman dressed head-to-toe in black stood by a pile of suitcases, with a child wearing a winter coat and colourful backpack by her side.

Tens of thousands of rebels and civilians have been relocated to Idlib over the past years from different parts of Syria making it one of the most inhabited regions in the country.