Jaysh al-Islam group resumes attacks against Syrian forces in Douma
Apr 08 2018
The government launched a fierce air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta, on Friday, killing 48 people in the last 24 hours alone.
Syrian State media reported on Saturday that the soldiers pushed deeper into Douma from western and southern fronts during their ground offensive.
Under Russian-brokered deals, two rebel-held pockets of Eastern Ghouta were evacuated last month that saw more than 46,000 rebels and civilians bussed to opposition-held Idlib province in the northwest.
Damascus and Moscow enabled civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta, while paving the way for transfer of militants and their families to a northern militant bastion.
A day earlier, two people were killed and 20 others wounded by the rebels' mortar attack on Damascus.
Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said the Republican Guard of the Syrian army started entering the farmlands of Douma on Friday, accusing the rebels of undermining the agreement by not evacuating the district, firing mortar shells on the capital and refusing to release kidnapped people.
Syrian government forces and rebels on Saturday intensified tit-for-tat attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus and its outskirts as the government was pressing on with a military offensive to retake the last opposition pocket near the city.
According to Yevtushenko, now "Syrian governmental forces are liberating the city of Douma from uncompromising rebel groups". The Observatory said at least eight civilians were killed in the attacks.
Should the government recapture Eastern Ghouta, it would deal the harshest blow to the rebels since December 2016, when al-Assad's forces regained full control of the northern city of Aleppo following a Russian-backed campaign.
Regime forces were locked in violent clashes with Jaish Al Islam rebels in agricultural areas to the southwest and east of the town, the monitor said.
All that remained was its largest town of Douma, held by the Jaish al-Islam Islamist faction and home to tens of thousands of people.
SANA said they faltered when Jaish al-Islam refused to release detainees they were holding in Douma, adding that the military assault would only stop if hostages are released.
A steady trickle of buses had been carrying residents from Douma for nearly a week, apparently under the terms of an agreement struck between Jaish al-Islam and Russian Federation. The group wants to remain in Douma and none of the fighters have left, according to Mohammad Alloush, a representative for Jaish al-Islam.
United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the renewed outbreak of fighting in Douma "is of great concern to us".