The massive Russian-backed Syrian military offensive in suburbs east of Damascus is almost over, with rebels holed up in just a single town after abandoning the rest of the eastern Ghouta enclave, Moscow said on Thursday.
A senior official for Jaish al-Islam, the faction that controls the last Ghouta town still in insurgent hands, Douma, said the group was still engaged in negotiations with Russia over the town’s fate, which began several days ago.
Thousands of rebels have accepted Russian-brokered deals to leave other parts of the enclave in the past week with their families on government-supplied buses, giving them safe passage to other insurgent-held areas. Tens of thousands of other civilians have stayed behind to accept state rule, and tens of thousands more have fled across the frontline.
The collapse of rebel control in eastern Ghouta, after one of the fiercest campaigns of the seven year war, has delivered the insurgents their worst defeat since they were driven out of Aleppo in 2016.