Dozens Killed in New Offensive as Eastern Ghouta Evacuation Deal Crumbles

Britons and Syrians share many opinions on what is most valuable for a good life

Britons and Syrians share many opinions on what is most valuable for a good life

Violence broke out in and around a rebel-held town near the capital Damascus on Friday killing at least two people after almost two weeks of calm signaling an apparent collapse of a truce and an evacuation deal for opposition fighters to leave the area, state media and opposition activists said.

Jaysh al-Islam members have resumed attacks against governmental forces in the city of Douma after new leaders seized power in the group, Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties (part of Defense Ministry) Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko said on Saturday.

The regime has used a combination of a fierce military onslaught and two negotiated withdrawals to empty out 95 percent of the enclave, but rebels are still entrenched in its largest town of Douma.

The army, however, resumed airstrikes on militant positions in Douma on Friday after the last remaining militants there violated an evacuation deal and shelled civilian areas near Damascus on Saturday.

"The bombing still hasn't stopped". At least 36 were killed, and 40 according to some reports, as airstrikes and ground forces advanced on the city.

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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.

"There are some wounded who we couldn't operate on in time, and they died".

The monitor told AFP it could not specify the reason for the symptoms, but the White Helmets rescue forces said Douma had been hit with toxic gas.

The group appears to have little leverage however to face the regime's recovered might, and the latest strikes raised fears of a brutal end to the five-year-old siege of Eastern Ghouta.

Evacuations from Eastern Ghouta's Arbin, Zamalka and Ayn Tarma neighborhoods were conducted this week, but agreement has yet to be reached regarding Duma.

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Leading Jaish al-Islam commander Mohammed Alloush told AFP that the Syrian regime were to blame for the collapse of the talks.

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

"All of a sudden, with no warning, the shelling starts".

While several thousand wounded fighters and civilians from Douma have taken that option in recent days, the Jaish al-Islam official denied any of its fighters had left.

"The regime is trying to tighten the noose around Douma from the west, east, and south", said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

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"The talks were going well". Fighters and civilians with familial ties to the group are being rejected, residents said.An activist interviewed Friday said the choice to stay had not been his own, after Jaish al-Islam declined to clear two of his relatives to leave and held up his application as a result.

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