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Eastern Ghouta's rebels now only hold the town of Douma, under the control of the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction, and another pocket that includes Ein Terma, Arbin and Zamalka, under the control of Failaq al-Rahman. The area had been the last rebel stronghold close to the capital Damascus.

The town, controlled by the powerful Army of Islam, is also home to tens of thousands of people, including many who were displaced over the past weeks of heavy fighting.

The Army of Islam has held Douma, near Damascus, for years. A Russian army spokesman said the rebels have indicated a willingness to lay down their arms.

In November 2015, a Britain-based activist group reported rebels in Eastern Ghouta were using dozens of captives taken hostage in Adra as "human shields".

A Russian official, Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov, said the group was in touch with Russian officers handling the negotiations.

Talks with the Russians will resume within three days, it said. Only the town of Douma has yet to surrender. It put the total figure of civilians and rebels evacuated from the area since the Russia-sponsored "humanitarian pauses" were announced at 114,000 people.

The group has accused Syrian government of trying to change demographic balance of eastern Ghouta by forcing out locals and replacing them with its allies.


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