Ghouta Falls in Syrian Regime's Clutches

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The Observatory said that more than 1,600 people were killed as intense artillery, shelling and airstrikes made way for a ground offensive that saw Ghouta split into three separate pockets of rebel control.

According to SANA, the Syrian government dispatched more than 50 buses to Douma to take the rebels out.

Army of Islam officials did not respond to requests for comment by The Associated Press.

Jaish al-Islam, which has been defending the eastern Ghouta town of Douma against a ferocious onslaught by Russian-backed Assad regime forces, has not confirmed the agreement with the regime.

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Talks have been ongoing between the Syrian opposition and Russian Federation over the fate of Douma, the last town in Eastern Ghouta still under rebel control.

The Syrian government declared victory over Islamist-dominated fighters in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta after a relentless six-week siege, cementing President Bashar al-Assad's rule by securing the capital and roads that link it to other parts of the country.

"If they intend to support terrorist elements or provide direct or indirect protection through their armed forces, this would be a truly calamitous step", Turkey's Defense Minister said during a visit to the country's northeastern province of Giresun on Sunday. Tens of thousands of other civilians have fled to regime-held territory.

On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 that called for a cease-fire in Syria - especially in Eastern Ghouta - to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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This development came as the Syrian army has so far captured over 90 percent of Eastern Ghouta in an offensive that has been dragging on since late last month.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States would "be coming out of Syria like very soon", just hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for U.S. troops to remain in the country for the immediate future.

The increase in special operations troops in the northern Syrian city was confirmed by Col. Thomas F. Veale, a US military spokesperson and public affairs director for the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), who said the recent deployment was a "protection measure to ensure the safety of coalition troops in the area".

State news agency SANA said 38,000 fighters and civilians have already headed to Idlib over the past two weeks marking one of the largest displacements since Syria's conflict began seven years ago. Rebels also still control a significant chunk of territory on the frontiers with Jordan and Israel, which are both anxious about the growth of Iranian influence in Syria.

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