Ghouta rebel groups' fate yet to be decided

Assad rains fire on the last of the rebels: Incendiary explosives fall in militant-held region of Ghouta as hundreds of

State television said the town of Harasta had "been emptied of terrorists" after a deal that saw fighters from Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and their families bussed to northwestern Idlib province, still largely rebel-held.

Whilst events further north in Douma city might yet take on a full military character, it appears that the insurgent presence there will be mostly sorted through diplomatic means at this point.

Each one of the three pockets has come under intense bombardment, essentially forcing the rebels that control them to sue for an evacuation.

It has been marked by tactics the army and its ally Russian Federation have increasingly used to crush resistance - lay siege to an area, bombard it, launch a ground assault and finally offer the rebels and their families safe passage to the northwest.

The fighting has killed more than 1,500 people and left civilians who were unable or unwilling to leave their homes to deal with severe food shortages and scant medical care.

A military source told AFP the delays were caused by "logistical issues", including the roads being sealed off by sandberms and mines and rebels' failure to prepare the list of evacuees in time.

Laerke said: "we help those tens of thousands of people who are fleeing and coming out, and as I mentioned the other day, they come out in a really awful state of mind, and physical condition, it's disgusting".

Syrian rebel fighters hand themselves over to regime troops on March 23, 2018, as regime forces move in to the outskirts of Ain Tarma, in the south of eastern Ghouta, after a deal was reached with a rebel group that controlled the area.

Almost 90,000 people have left Eastern Ghouta through humanitarian corridors since the declaration of humanitarian pauses, following years of punishing sieges enforced by regime forces.

"Our situation in Harasta was very tragic", Abu Mohammed, a civilian told AFP in the town of Maarat al-Ikhwan.

Assad rains fire on the last of the rebels: Incendiary explosives fall in militant-held region of Ghouta as hundreds of
'Dozens burned to death' in Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Activists claimed incendiary bombs were used, as videos showed dark skies light up with white smoke and multiple fires raging on the ground.

Thousands of fighters and their families departed the area by bus, according to an agreement between the Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group and Russian and Syrian authorities. "Today is a session to find a solution to end this human suffering, whatever the cost", he said on television.

This would offer them a powerful patron that was absent in Eastern Ghouta.

They said the majority of victims in Arbin were women and children.

"The one thing they got was that they were able to leave without being killed", said Nawar Oliver, an analyst at the Turkey-based Omran Centre.

The government-controlled SCMM said a corridor was prepared for Faylaq al-Rahman members and their relatives to leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbeen, Ein Tarma and Jobar.

About 7,000 people would depart in the deal starting on Saturday morning, including fighters carrying light weapons, state TV reported.

Jaish al-Islam too opened negotiations with Russian Federation.

That evacuation deal was the first agreed since the offensive on the Eastern Ghouta was stepped up a month ago.

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