Russian strikes kill 37 in E Ghouta
Another Ghouta rebel group agrees evacuation deal
Russian air strikes killed 37 civilians in the Arbin area of the shrinking rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday.
Eastern Ghouta's six-year rebel rule was in its dying moments as fighters evacuated one of the Syrian enclave's three remaining pockets and a deal was reached for another.
A blistering regime assault since February 18 on the last opposition bastion outside Damascus has splintered remaining rebel territory into three shrinking pockets, each held by different factions.
Damascus and its ally Moscow have implemented a "leave or die" strategy with deadly air strikes on the enclave.
For the second consecutive day yesterday, rebels quit one pocket for while state media said a deal had been reached for the evacuation of a second one.
The deal provides for "the transfer of nearly 7,000 people, fighters and their families" from an area in the south of the enclave held by the Islamist group Faylaq al-Rahman, state television said.
It will empty a southern area of Eastern Ghouta that includes the towns of Zamalka, Arbin and Ain Tarma, it said, with evacuations set to begin at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) today.
A deal, struck with another group for the smaller pocket of Harasta, began on Thursday and talks are under way for the third and final pocket, which includes Douma.
Faylaq al-Rahman group, which agreed to a ceasefire late Thursday following another wave of deadly air strikes, did not immediately confirm the agreement.
More than 1,600 civilians have died in Eastern Ghouta since the regime launched a blistering assault on the last rebel bastion near Damascus on February 18.