Pro-Assad forces trying to remove last opposition area near Syrian capital Damascus
The Assad regime, Russia, and their allies have forced another surrender agreement northeast of Damascus, less than two weeks after the capture of East Ghouta near Syria’s capital.
Forced removals of fighters and their families began in the desert town of Dumayr, days after the first reports that rebels had finally capitulated. Regime police and security forces then entered.
About 5,000 people, including 1,500 rebels, are expected to be transferred to north Syria under the Russian-brokered deal.
Dumayr had been covered by an informal ceasefire for years, but — as with the case of Damascus suburbs reoccupied by pro-Assad forces since 2016 — the regime returned to siege and military action as it removes any opposition presence in the area around the capital.
The town’s capture also enables regime forces to control the Damascus-Baghdad highway, a key route for weapons to Assad’s military.
Said Seif, a senior official with the Ahmad Abdo Martyrs factions, said rebels had no choice but to capitulate: “We hope the Russians keep their promises, even though we have no trust in them.”
In a nearby opposition enclave in Eastern Qalamoun, several towns and an area of hills — previously covered by an informal ceasefire — rebels said they are negotiating with Russia for capitulation.
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) April 20, 2018
Russia Accidentally Confirms Interrogation of Douma Medics Amid Chemical Attack Denial
Russia has unwittingly admitted to the interrogation of medical staff from Douma, amid efforts to deny the April 7 chemical attacks on the Damascus suburb.
Local sources said that, soon after the attacks, doctors and other personnel were taken by Russian forces for questioning and threatened with arrest and possible harm to their families if they did not carry out the denials.
Sputnik subsequently featured two medical staff saying there had been no assault, and UK journalist Robert Fisk found another doctor — who was not present at the hospital treating victims — declaring that at least 85 dead and hundreds injured were due to dust from shelling.
State outlet RT gives away the Russian tactics in this passage:
Doctors and medical workers questioned by the Russian Center for Reconciliation confirmed that there had been no reports of patients suffering from chemical poisoning in Douma during the timeframe of the alleged gas attack.
At the time of the attacks, doctors testified to victims with symptoms not only from chlorine but also exposure to organophosphates. Medical staff who have left Douma continue to speak of two chemical attacks, refuting the Russian and Assad line.