Evacuations of Syrian opposition fighters and their families from Eastern Ghouta continued on Wednesday amid reports that Syrian pro-regime forces carried out field executions and arbitrary kidnappings of civilians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that regime forces have intensified their operations in eastern Ghouta affecting 90 percent of the area. Not only did regime forces carry out arrests, but also conducted executions against civilians who chose to remain in its areas of control.
Regime forces have executed at least five farmers in Kafr Batna, which was controlled by the anti-regime Faylaq al-Rahman.
Another two women were abducted and taken to an unknown location. The fate of the wives of two of the farmers who were executed remains unclear.
The Observatory added that “pro-regime popular committees have executed 18 citizens from the town of Kafr Batna and the city of Saqba, raising fears for the lives of about 37,000 remaining civilians.”
On February 18, the regime, its ally Russia and loyalist militia launched an all-out assault to corner rebels in three isolated pockets.
More than 1,600 civilians have been killed in the operation, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
To help the regime capture the rest, Moscow began talks with the rebels in each area.
The first agreement, with Ahrar al-Sham, saw more than 4,500 people including rebels leave the town of Harasta last week.
The deal with Faylaq al-Rahman on Friday has so far seen 6,400 people leaving.
The convoy of 81 buses that left late Sunday began arriving at a staging ground on the edge of opposition territory in northwest Syria on Monday afternoon.
Dozens of people had been waiting since early morning for the arrival of relatives and friends who were bussed out of Ghouta.
“I’m waiting for my wife’s parents who were besieged. We’ve missed them so much,” said Abu al-Laith, who himself was evacuated 10 months ago from another Damascus district.
As the buses pulled in, long-lost relatives broke into tears and hugged each other emotionally.
As for Douma, 10 km northeast of the center of Damascus, residents were also torn apart by the effects of a possible evacuation.
A third set of talks over the final pocket — controlled by Jaish al-Islam and including the largest town in the area, Douma — may not end in evacuation.
“The ongoing negotiations with Russia are to stay in Douma, not to leave it,” said Jaish al-Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar, without providing further details.
As for locals, Abu Ayman, 30, said: “I’ve spent my whole life here and lived the revolution. My father died here. How could I abandon his grave?”
“But I could never live alongside regime forces,” he added.
A potential “reconciliation deal” would see Jaish Al-Islam disarm but stay in Douma, according to the Observatory.
It would also provide for the deployment of Russian military police and the return of regime institutions and basic services like water and electricity.
Syrian forces, however, would not enter.
About 16,000 people have fled Douma. Some 200,000 people, including many who fled other parts of Ghouta, are estimated to remain in the town.
المصدر: الشرق الأوسط
المصدر: الشرق الأوسط