Syria: Rebel group, Russians forge Ghouta plan

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Eastern Ghouta's six-year rebel rule was in its dying moments on Friday as fighters evacuated one of the Syrian enclave's three remaining pockets and a deal was reached for another, regime media and an opposition monitoring group said.

More than 105,000 people have left the militant Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of the Syrian capital city of Damascus ever since government forces and allied fighters from popular defense groups launched a wide-scale offensive last month to purge the region of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

Since February 18, a Russian-backed air and ground assault by Syrian troops brought most of the area under government control, and Damascus is using evacuation deals to clear the last three pockets.

The Bashar al Assad regime and its ally Moscow have implemented a "leave or die" strategy with deadly air strikes on the enclave.

In a statement released on Friday, the Faylaq ar-Rahman group, the second largest rebel force in Eastern Ghouta, said that the Russian-brokered deal allows for the immediate evacuation of the sick and wounded, and that aid would be allowed inside the besieged area.

A Syrian State TV correspondent says 7,000 civilians and Failaq al-Rahman fighters will begin leaving four towns in eastern Ghouta as of Saturday.

Eastern Ghouta was the opposition's final stronghold on the edge of Damascus, but beleaguered rebels are now left with less than 10 percent of their one-time bastion.

Laerke said: "we help those tens of thousands of people who are fleeing and coming out, and as I mentioned the other day, they come out in a really bad state of mind, and physical condition, it's frightful".

Following the evacuation of the last group of armed men, the SOHR added that Ahrar al-Sham's combatants were no longer present in Eastern Ghouta.

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The government-controlled SCMM said a corridor was prepared for Faylaq al-Rahman members and their relatives to leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbeen, Ein Tarma and Jobar.

State television reported that more than 60 buses had left Harasta since Thursday, carrying over 3,800 people including more than 1,000 fighters.

It was the first time in weeks that so many people were seen outside.

The evacuation extended regime control to more than 90 per cent of bombed-out Ghouta, where rebels have clung on through years of government siege, a Britain-based war monitor said.

It was offered by the Syrian army to Ahrar al-Sham rebels, who until recently controlled the key town of Harasta in the north-west.

"We unfortunately have a steady stream of reports coming out of Eastern Ghouta: of attacks of bombardments, all kinds of illegal weapons being used." said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during a news conference in Geneva.

Student Layal al-Jumaa lives in a neighborhood that overlooks Harasta, and woke up Saturday after a full night's sleep uninterrupted by bombardment.

Just hours later, rocket fire hit a sports club in Damascus, killing one child and wounding seven, state news agency SANA reported.

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