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Syrian army declares Ghouta rebel enclave fully retaken

AFP  |  Damascus 

The has declared that all anti-regime forces had left Eastern Ghouta, nearly two months into a blistering offensive on the rebel enclave on the outskirts of the capital.

"All terrorists have left Douma, the last of their holdouts in Eastern Ghouta," state agency yesterday quoted an as saying, using the regime's usual term for rebels.

"Areas of Eastern in rural have been fully cleansed of terrorism," an also said in a statement delivered on state television.

The announcement comes after a massive assault launched by and allied forces on February 18 to retake the enclave, which had been out of regime control since 2012.

According to the for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, at least 1,700 civilians have been killed in bombardment on the enclave in eight weeks.

is the main town in what at the start of the year was a sprawling semi-rural area just east of Damascus, home to almost 400,000 inhabitants.

The regime has been accused of carrying out a on the town of Douma, the final part of the enclave where rebels were balking at a Russian-brokered deal to evacuate them to

The United States, and Britain responded yesterday with pre-dawn strikes on

A team of experts from the is currently in and expected to investigate the site of the

had made the reconquest of Eastern a strategic goal.

Dozens of civilians in government-controlled central have also been killed by rockets and mortar rounds fired from Eastern by the rebel groups that held it.

The aerial blitz the regime and launched in mid-February has caused extensive destruction in the region's towns.

"Engineering units are starting to clear the mines and explosives sewn by the terrorists in the town to allow the rest of the units to secure the liberated areas and prepare them for the return of civilians to their homes," the army said.

The last convoy of buses transporting members of the Islamist group and their relatives left yesterday.

Thousands of civilians who fled the offensive have already returned to areas previously retaken by the army and allied forces.

The two-month assault on Eastern Ghouta sparked an international outcry, with the of the describing the conditions endured by civilians there as "hell on Earth".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 15 2018. 01:55 IST