Rift among IS rebels delays evacuation from Damascus’ Douma


DAMASCUS: An inner rift among the Islam Army rebels in the Syrian capital Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta countryside has delayed their planned evacuation on Thursday, state news agency SANA reported.

Buses, which entered the Douma district earlier to transport the fourth batch of the Islam Army rebels and their families, had to leave the area empty to “stay away from the conflict among the Islam Army rebels,” the report said.

The buses are now waiting on the Harasta highway nearby for the militants to settle their dispute. The evacuation deal for the militants from Douma is still valid, SANA said.

A total of 2,963 militants and their families have evacuated Douma in three batches over the past few days under a deal concluded between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces under Russia’s mediation.

The militants headed to the rebel-held city of Jarablus in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

But the dispute emerged as some of the rebels refused to leave Douma, the last rebel-held stronghold in Eastern Ghouta after 43,000 rebels and their families had been evacuated to the Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian army launched a massive operation in February against the rebels in Eastern Ghouta and secured the evacuation of 150,000 civilians who will return home once the situation stabilizes.