On April 2 a first wave of evacuations begins from Douma, with more than 1,100 people, Jaish al-Islam fighters and family members, setting off to northern rebel-held Jarabulus, according to state news agency SANA.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based Syrian war monitor, said that Jaish Al Islam and the Syrian government agreed on a settlement to secure those who wish to stay in Douma, allow the evacuation of those who want to leave, surrender heavy artillery to the Syrian regime and allow police to be deployed in the city.
Four major rebel groups were now positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. Turkey, with support from rebels, is running its own military operations against a USA -backed Kurdish party that controls territory along the frontier.
Late on Sunday, Russian news agency Interfax quoted General Yuri Yevtushenko as saying a "preliminary deal" had been reached to evacuate Jaish al-Islam fighters. "Those who want to leave should leave", Essam al-Buidani says in the video, although it was unclear when it was filmed. There was no comment from the Army of Islam. The withdrawal came about after the armed group accepted an agreement with the Russian Reconciliation Center and the Syrian Army, local media reported. Evacuations should be voluntary but in some cases might not have been, he added.
Dozens if not hundreds of residents are believed to require care for war wounds and medical conditions exacerbated by the siege of the town.
Ahmad Ramadan, a prominent opposition figure in exile, told the Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that the Army of Islam was still engaged in talks with Russian Federation over the future of the town.
Abdul Karim also said that councils of some local towns are negotiating their own terms for reconciliation.
Over the past weeks, as Syrian forces reclaimed towns and villages in eastern Ghouta, they gave rebels and all men of fighting age the choice of accepting amnesty and serving in the Syrian military conscription, or leaving to go to the north of Syria.
The fighters in Douma were following their Faylaq al-Rahman comrades trapped in the other two Ghouta pockets that relocated to northern Syria last week. The assault on Eastern Ghouta since mid-February has killed more than 1,600 civilians and caused tens of thousands to flee into regime-held territory.