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Rebel fighters in Syria's Douma ready to lay down arms - Russia

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

FILE: A Syrian boy looks at the damage following reported air strikes on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on 6 February 2018. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - Rebel fighters with the Jaish al-Islam group in the Syrian town of Douma, near the capital Damascus, have expressed readiness to lay down their arms and leave the town, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a Russian General Staff official as saying.

The official, Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov, said the group was in touch with Russian officers handling the negotiations and that the question of their departure was likely to be settled in the near future, RIA reported.

Earlier on Monday, the group, the last in control of territory in eastern Ghouta, said on Sunday it would not withdraw to other opposition-held parts of Syria as other rebel groups have done under deals negotiated with Syrian government ally Russia.

After a month-long ground and air offensive and deals under which rebel fighters agreed to be transported to northern Syria, pro-Syrian government forces have taken control of most of what had been the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

Only the town of Douma, the most populous part of eastern Ghouta, remains under rebel control.

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