Syria announces eastern Ghouta free of rebels

State news agency SANA reported the departures from Douma were ongoing on Friday, in preparation for announcing it cleared of opposition fighters.

It added that the army is preparing eastern Ghouta for tens of thousands who were displaced over the past two months during a crushing government offensive to retake the area.

The Syrian army has declared the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus "fully liberated" after the last group of gunmen left the town of Douma.

The General Command went on to assert that this great victory in the eradication of terrorism and the liberation of Douma is a natural result of the people's rallying around the Syrian Arab Army, and this was made evident when people from various areas and villages of the Eastern Ghouta took to the streets demanding the Syrian Arab Army to liberate them from terrorism and restore security and safety.

The announcement comes after a massive assault launched by Syrian government and allied forces on February 18 to retake the enclave, which had been out of regime control since 2012.

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights, a British-based war monitoring group, says the campaign killed more than 1,600 civilians.

Early on Saturday, the American military, in collaboration with Britain and France, carried out what it routinely describes as "precision strikes" on three targets in Syria that it falsely claimed to be associated with the country's alleged chemical weapons arsenal, without producing any evidence.

The entry of government forces to Douma follows a Russian-mediated deal that secured the surrender and evacuation of the rebels and thousands of civilians from the town.

A team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now in Damascus and expected to investigate the site of the alleged chemical attack.

The last convoy of buses transporting members of the Islamist group Jaish al-Islam and their relatives left Douma yesterday.

Western powers accuse Syrian government forces of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Duma on April 7, killing dozens of dead, according to White Helmet rescuers.

"Punish the instrument of crime while the criminal is maintained.A joke", said on his Twitter account Mohammed Allouche, a senior official of the group that controlled Douma.

Since the beginning of the humanitarian operation in Eastern Ghouta, the Russian reconciliation center played a decisive role in organizing evacuation of 67,680 militants and their families, according to the general.

The Syrian government strongly denied the allegation, calling for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission for investigations.

The two-month assault on Eastern Ghouta sparked an global outcry, with the head of the United Nations describing the conditions endured by civilians there as "hell on Earth".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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