More than 3,000 Jaysh al-Islam militants and their family members have been evacuated from Douma in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, as part of Russia-brokered deal which saw the militants’ prisoners being released.
The Russian Defense Ministry has been broadcasting live footage from the Muhayam al-Wafideen checkpoint in Eastern Ghouta on Monday, where the mass withdrawal of militants from the town of Douma is currently underway. Dozens of buses with militants and their family members have already headed out for the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo Province.
The relocation of militants began late on Sunday, with “3005 fighters and their family members withdrawing by now,” the Reconciliation Center said. Up to 8,000 fighters and around 40,000 of their family members are expected to be relocated from Douma, the Russian military said earlier.
The first group of people being held captive by Jaysh al-Islam were released late on Sunday. “Fifty-six people, including 36 men, 16 women and four children were set free. The work to liberate other hostages is ongoing,” the Reconciliation Center said.
The Syrian Army said it gained control of the most of Eastern Ghouta on March 31, lifting the militants’ blockade of a major highway between Damascus and the rest of the country. Since late February, over 157,000 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta and as many as 33,345 from Douma, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Thursday.