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Air strikes hit Syria's rebel-held Douma, first in 10 days

Air strikes hit Syria's rebel-held Douma, first in 10 days”

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. State media denied the reports saying "such farces about chemical weapons" were triggered by the troops' quick push toward Douma.

In recent weeks, government forces have retaken most of Eastern Ghouta through a combination of ground assaults and Russia-brokered evacuation deals.

Opposition activists said 25 people were killed in airstrikes that targeted Douma while state TV said two people were killed in the capital Damascus when rebels fired mortar shells into the city.

State news agency SANA said the suspension was the result of disagreements within the Army of Islam rebel group, adding that buses that entered Douma for the evacuations on Thursday returned without passengers.

The offensive to reclaim Douma, the last pocket of resistance in the suburbs surrounding Damascus, also followed talks between Turkey, Russia and Iran, on Syria.

The Observatory said 40 people were killed on Friday, with eight more dying in the latest violence.

Government media reports that the assault began in response to the shelling of Damascus and humanitarian corridor in Eastern ghouta, which allegedly produced by the group Jaish al-Islam.

Regime forces were locked in violent clashes with Jaish al-Islam rebels in agricultural areas to the southwest and east of the town, the Observatory said. Other rebel groups agreed to relocate to the north after a Russia-backed government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds of people and caused catastrophic destruction.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims 14,000 rebel fighters left in the city.

However, Jaysh al-Islam political official Mohammad Alloush told al-Hadath TV that the group did not want to "close the door that can lead to sparing the blood of civilians and reaching a peaceful situation".

A total of 2,963 militants and their families evacuated Douma in three batches over the past few days under a deal concluded between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces under a Russian mediation.

A commander in the regional military alliance that backs Assad said Jaish al-Islam's only option was to accept safe passage to rebel-held areas northeast of Aleppo as talks overseen by Russian Federation had collapsed.

The commander also said, "As far as Douma is concerned, resolving it militarily is the solution".

Syrian state media is reporting that a bomb has exploded near a mosque in the capital Damascus killing one person and wounding six others.



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