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Rebels give up all eastern Qalamoun region: spokesman

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Rebels agreed late on Thursday to give up four more towns in the eastern Qalamoun region to the Syrian regime, in a string of handovers by rebels following the evacuation of Dumayr, the strategic town northeast of Damascus, spokesman said.

Said Seif, spokesman for the Unified Command of Qalamoun forces, said rebels had agreed with the Russian military to lay down their arms to make the eastern gate of Damascus completely cleared from rebels.

The towns of al-Naseriyah, al-Otnah, Ruhaiba and Jairoud will freed from rebels along with their bastions in Qalamoun hilltops. 

The handover of arms began on Friday.
The Russian army pledged to grant amnesty for army defectors and youth who escaped conscription.
 On Thursday, 2500 people, including 600 rebels, boarded buses and left the town of Dumayr to Jarablus, a town in north Syria shared between Turkish and Syrian opposition control.

There have been several handovers by rebels to the government in the capital region following a punishing regime offensive against the rebellious Eastern Ghouta region earlier this year.

More than 1,700 civilians were killed in the offensive, which culminated in allegations of a chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma, with reports that more than 78 people were killed.

Rebels surrendered towns across Eastern Ghouta as the offensive drove on, giving up control of an area once home to an estimated 400,000 people in a matter of weeks.

The Syrian regime has been following a proven strategy of besieging opposition areas until residents and fighters, desperate for food, medical treatment and relief, give up and accept government control.

The bruising offensives have displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, and tens of thousands more choose to leave to north Syria than to submit again to the government and be conscripted by the military.

U.N. officials and human rights groups say the strategy and the evacuation arrangements amount to forced population displacement, a war crime.

Meanwhile, Syrian state-run media says Daesh (ISIS) militants have agreed to give up their last pockets in the southern neighborhoods of Damascus.

The SANA news agency says militants will be given the option to stay and reconcile with the government or 
leave on buses to Daesh-held territory in the eastern Syrian desert.

The agreement announced Friday follows a day of intensive government airstrikes on the Daesh-held neighborhoods of Hajr al-Aswad and the Yarmouk Palestinian camp, in the Syrian capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported "relative calm" in the two neighborhoods after the announcement of the agreement.

Zaman Al Wasl
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