Syrian rebels in a besieged area northeast of Damascus have been told they must accept state rule or leave, a rebel group said on Tuesday, as the government and its Russian ally seek to wipe out the last pockets of opposition territory near the capital.

The ultimatum to the rebels of eastern Qalamoun was served to civilians from the area during a meeting with a Russian colonel and an officer from the Syrian Air Force Intelligence, rebel spokesman Said Saif of the Martyr Ahmad Abdo told Reuters.

The area is 40 km (25 miles) from Damascus and separate from eastern Ghouta – an area right next to the capital where government forces have routed rebels in recent weeks, forcing thousands to accept safe passage out towards the Turkish border.

An opposition source said talks over the densely-populated town of Douma, the last rebel pocket of eastern Ghouta, had yet to be concluded, at odds with state media reports that the group holed up inside – Jaish al-Islam – had accepted a deal to leave.

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