More Syrian rebels exit stronghold near Damascus | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

A list of 1.5 million people wanted by the Assad regime was leaked to an opposition website

A list of 1.5 million people wanted by the Assad regime was leaked to an opposition websiteEPA

It will mark his biggest victory over rebels fighting to unseat him since the recovery of eastern Aleppo in 2016.

Syria's state-run media has reported the last group of anti-government fighters is withdrawing from eastern Ghouta, a rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

State television and Syrian newspapers said that the deal with Jaish al Islam would involve the group handing over heavy and mid-sized weapons and acknowledge Syrian government sovereignty over Douma.

There was no comment from the Army of Islam. The group was in negotiations with the Assad government through Russian mediators.

The Central Military Media outlet, which is linked to the Syrian military, says the Army of Islam has agreed to leave the town of besieged town of Douma for Jarablus, a town shared between rebel and Turkish control in north Syria. The southern and western portions of the Ghouta region were evacuated by rebel forces Saturday afternoon. The rebels refused to say, however, whether they had surrendered.

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The decision to freeze the funds was in line with Trump's declaration during a speech in Richfield, Ohio, on Thursday, where he said it was time for America to exit Syria. While the remark came in the context of Trump boasting about the successes of United States military forces against ISIS in eastern Syria and western Iraq, his suggestion that the 2,000 U.S. troops now in Syria could soon be withdrawn contradicted the official policy of his own administration. It will also see Russian military police enter the town and government institutions return to the area, the monitor said.

Those remarks threw State Department officials off balance.

Special Forces Commander Raymond Thomas said last summer that Russian Federation may have the legal capabilities to force the US out of Syria after ISIS was defeated because the Pentagon's sole mandate was to defeat ISIS. Tillerson had announced the new spending on roads, water and sewer repairs in areas of eastern Syria captured from ISIS during a visit to the region in February.

Philip Issa is an Associated Press writer.

"The United States is working every day on the ground and with the global community to help stabilize those areas liberated from ISIS and identify ways to move forward with reconstruction once there has been a peaceful political transition away from (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad", the statement said. But he made clear he saw a continuing role for the military in helping to stabilize Syria.

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USA president Donald Trump added fresh uncertainty to the outlook for the conflict last week by indicating that the United States would soon be leaving Syria.

The US and British soldiers killed in an improvised explosive devise blast in Manbij, Syria, last week were on a classified mission to "kill or capture a known ISIS member" according to Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway.

Trump's talk of leaving Syria soon contradicts "everything that he has said his foreign policy would stand for - except for his resistance to getting involved in new foreign wars", said Charles Lister, director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Program at the Middle East Institute.

Since September 20, 2014, when operations in Syria began, the USA has spent an average of $14.3 million a day on operations there and in neighboring Iraq, according to the Pentagon.

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