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Assad forces prepare ‘huge’ operation in opposition-held Douma

A Syrian man escaping with his child after an Assad regime attack on Douma on Feb. 7
Assad forces prepare ‘huge’ operation in opposition-held Douma
The Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is preparing to launch a “huge” operation against the last opposition-held town in eastern Ghouta unless the Jaish al-Islam group agrees to hand over the area, according to Al Arabiya.

Routed by the Russian-backed Syrian Army, opposition in other parts of eastern Ghouta are leaving in convoys to rebel-held areas in the northwest under withdrawal deals that are restoring Assad’s control.

But the Jaish al-Islam group says it will stay in Douma, where tens of thousands of civilians are sheltering in an enclave surrounded by Assad forces.

“The forces deployed in Ghouta are preparing a huge military operation in Douma if the Jaish al-Islam terrorists do not agree to hand over the city and depart,” al-Watan newspaper said.

A Syrian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the situation was in a critical phase. “These two days will be decisive,” the official said without giving further details.

Jaish al-Islam said on Tuesday that Russia had yet to give its answer to proposals regarding Douma, and accused Damascus and Moscow of seeking to impose demographic changes on the area by forcing out its people.