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Syria regime reaches deal for rebels to quit Douma: SANA

AFP , Sunday 8 Apr 2018
Douma
Pro Syrian regime forces are seen as they advance towards the town of Douma, the last opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta, on April 7, 2018. (PHOTO: AFP)
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Syria's government has reached an agreement for rebels to leave their battered holdout of Douma for an opposition-held town in the country's north, state media reported on Sunday.

The official news agency SANA, citing a government source, said the agreement would see "the departure of all so-called Jaish al-Islam terrorists to Jarablus within 48 hours".

In exchange Jaish al-Islam would release hostages it had been holding, the source said. SANA reported dozens of buses were already entering Douma to begin the evacuations.

The deal came a day after a reported chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Douma, which prompted global outrage but which Syria and its ally Russia have brushed off as "fabrications."

Douma is the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta, a sprawling suburb of Damascus that was once the opposition's main bastion on the outskirts of the capital.

Jaish al-Islam had been in talks with government ally Moscow over the town's fate and had been hoping to secure a deal that would allow them to remain in control.

But the negotiations crumbled last week and fierce bombing of Douma resumed on Friday.

By Sunday morning, opposition negotiators said a ceasefire had been agreed to allow for new talks.

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