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Reports: Last Syrian Rebel Group Starts Leaving Ghouta


A Syrian woman holds a child and runs for cover following government air strikes on the rebel-held enclave of Douma late last month.

The last Syrian rebel group in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, has begun withdrawing under an agreement with the government, state media report.

State television said buses carrying 448 people, including fighters of the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) group and their families, left Ghouta's main town of Douma on April 2.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of buses had entered Douma early in the day to evacuate the rebels to areas near the Turkish-Syrian border that are controlled by opposition groups.

Jaish al-Islam, which has been defending Douma against an offensive by Russian-backed Syrian government forces, has not confirmed the agreement with the government.

A Syrian military source was quoted as saying that some of the fighters were rejecting the deal.

The military offensive by Syrian government forces and their allies, which involved weeks of intense bombardment, has left more than 1,600 civilians dead and thousands more wounded in eastern Ghouta since February 18, according to the observatory.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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