tiptrot.com April 25, 2018

Fresh air strikes hit Syrias rebel Douma: rescuers

08 April 2018, 01:07 | Bernice Figueroa

Fresh air strikes hit Syrias rebel Douma: rescuers

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask after a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun Syria

Six civilians were also killed and dozens more wounded as Douma rebels shelled the capital Damascus on Saturday, Syrian state media said.

The Saudi-backed Army of Islam, which has deep roots in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, has held firm in recent weeks as virtually all the other insurgents of eastern Ghouta have reached deals to relocate to the rebel-held north. Meanwhile, eight civilians were killed and 20 others wounded in a auto bomb attack in northern Al Bab city.

Jaish al-Islam appeared to have agreed to an evacuation deal, as did other groups in two other areas, and indeed around 4,000 fighters and relatives left the town on Monday.

The White Helmets, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, said on Saturday that more than 50 air raids had struck the town, which sits just 15km east of the capital, Damascus, over the past 24 hours.

The resumed assault comes after the apparent failure of negotiations between Jaish al-Islam and regime backer Russian Federation over a rebel withdrawal from Douma.

At least 30 civilians, including women and children, were killed in Friday's air raids, the group said.

The Syrian army launched a massive operation in February on the rebels in Eastern Ghouta and secured the evacuation of 150,000 civilians who were hosted in government-run shelters until the situation settles in their areas in Eastern Ghouta for their return.

Others have blamed internal rebel divisions over the withdrawal process.

"It feels like we're back in the days of the Gaza war" when Israel was bombing the Palestinian enclave and people around the world watched, he said, giving his name only as Mohammed. A ground assault then sliced the area into three isolated pockets, each held by different rebel factions.

The first two were evacuated under Russian-brokered deals last month that saw thousands of people bused to the northwestern province of Idlib, which the regime does not control.

However, negotiations failed this week and air strikes resumed on Friday.

There are tens of thousands of people estimated to be living in Douma, according to Reuters.

Assad's forces and Jaish al-Islam began negotiations ten days ago.

It remains unclear exactly why the talks fell apart this week.

Top Jaish al-Islam political figure Mohammad Alloush yesterday blamed worldwide supporters of Syria's government for hamstringing the talks.

"Their only shared interests is the blood of civilians", he wrote on Twitter.

But Alloush, who is based outside Syria, indicated Jaish al-Islam was sticking by the demand to stay in Douma - a demand the government has rejected.

The retaking of Jap Ghouta would mark a critical milestone in President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to regain administration of territory seized by rebel factions all through Syria's seven-year civil wrestle.

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