As Syrian rebels quit Ghouta, Douma stands alone

Syrian rebels began pulling out of several towns in their former enclave of eastern Ghouta on Saturday, surrendering them to the government and leaving the besieged city of Douma as their last bastion there.

It comes after a month-long assault that devastated the already battered eastern Ghouta, an area of farmland and towns that was one of the first centers of the uprising in 2011 and the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

Ten buses carrying fighters along with their families and other civilians started to leave the enclave after dark, the vanguard of a convoy heading into exile in northwestern Syria.

It follows the departure of thousands of others on Friday from the town of Harasta in a similar deal for insurgents to depart with light weapons in return for giving up their territory.

The buses queued at a crossing point before moving into the enclave along a road on the former front lines that had been cleared of barricades, debris and unexploded ordnance.

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