Syrian government reportedly raises victory flag in last rebel-held enclave

A child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma

A child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma

Beirut/Moscow - Syrian government forces have raised their flag over the last rebel bastion in eastern Ghouta, taking full control of the town of Douma as insurgents withdraw, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, sealing a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Russian military police had been deployed in Douma as of Thursday.

Amidst fear of triggering war between U.S. and Russian Federation over situation in Syria, Bashar al-Assad army has taken full control over the city of Douma which was held by the Jaish al-Islam armed group leading to having entire Eastern Ghouta under the control of government forces.

"Of course, the chemical attack is what pushed us to agree" to a withdrawal from Douma, said Yasser Dalwan, a high-ranking member of Jaish al-Islam.

Under the recent deal between Jaish al-Islam and Russian army, Syrian forces were to be kept away while evacuating the armed groups and the civilians.

The agreement was announced on Sunday morning by the Assad regime and its ally Russian Federation, just hours after toxic gases were allegedly released on Douma.


Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which is sympathetic to anti-Damascus militants, said the remaining militants in battered Eastern Ghouta had surrendered their heavy weapons and their leaders had left the enclave for the north.

Syria denies being involved in the attack.

The official said Damascus and its allies are in consultation over U.S. threats of military action and have options.

First responders there said more than 40 people died Saturday after suffering symptoms consistent with chemical exposure, including wheezing, discolored skin and foaming at the mouth.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has called an emergency cabinet meeting for Thursday, while French President Emmanuel Macron is to decide on a response in the coming days, having insisted he does "not want an escalation" and that any response would focus on Syria's chemical capabilities, not on allies of the regime.

The OPCW said it would "shortly" deploy a fact-finding team to Douma for an investigation, but United States officials said they were working from their own information and would not necessarily hold back.

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