Syrian army pauses its bombardment of Douma
Thousands of fighters and their family members departed neighbouring Harasta by bus as insurgents prepared to leave the rest of their former enclave.
Insurgents in several other small towns nearby have agreed to leave on similar terms.
State television broadcast footage from a crossing point on Saturday where it said preparations were beginning for those rebels’ departure to northwestern Syria.
It means only Douma is left of the opposition’s eastern Ghouta enclave which a month ago the United Nations said was home to 400,000 people and constituted the rebels’ main stronghold near the capital Damascus.
The army offensive to capture it, heralded by one of the heaviest bombardments in the seven-year war with warplanes, helicopters and artillery, has killed more than 1,600 people, said the war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Residents and rights groups have accused the government of using weapons that kill indiscriminately - inaccurate barrel bombs dropped from helicopters, chlorine gas and incendiary material that sets raging fires.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his close ally Russia, which has helped his air campaign, have denied using all those weapons and say their offensive was needed to end the rule of Islamist militants over civilians.
About 7,000 fighters, along with family members and other civilians who do not wish to come back under Assad’s rule will leave the towns of Zamalka, Arbin and Jobar starting on Saturday, rebels and state media said.Published: by Radio NewsHub