Eastern Ghouta's rebels agree to evacuate imprisoned Nusra fighters

Syria war: Jaish al-Islam to evacuate n of Eastern Ghouta fighters

Syrian TV: Fighters and families start to leave eastern Ghouta

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey's military and its rebel allies have besieged the northern Syrian town of Afrin and were nearing its town center, which would mark a major advance in Turkey's military operation.

The correspondent said the men were fighters who had come out of eastern Ghouta through the al-Wafideen crossing into government-held Syria.

Syrian state television then showed footage that it said was of 13 fighters and their families leaving the enclave.

However, Hamza Birqadar, a spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, one of the two main insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, denied that either Harasta or Douma had been cut off. Its decision to move the prisoners appears to be an attempt to nullify the government's justification for attacking the enclave to fight terrorists.

The cease-fire endorsed more than a week ago by the United Nations Security Council - but not yet implemented - does not cover H.T.S., a coalition of rebel forces led by the Nusra Front, a group that was formed as Al Qaeda's Syria affiliate and is listed internationally as a terrorist group.

"We were taken aback by the fighting that broke out despite guarantees from the parties involved in this conflict that humanitarians could enter Douma, in eastern Ghouta", ICRC's Regional Director for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini said.

Regime forces have advanced rapidly through farmland in the enclave since last week, according to the Observatory, taking control of more than half of the territory from the armed opposition.

"Aid workers should not have to risk their lives to deliver assistance".

State media have reported people in eastern Ghouta raising Syrian government flags and holding small protests in support of Assad.

The humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta, home to hundreds of thousands of people, is dire, according to the United Nations and the Red Cross.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group in Britain, says 915 civilians have died in the last 18 days, including 91 on Wednesday.

The delivery had been due to enter on Thursday, but was delayed due to developments on the ground.

Fresh air strikes killed six civilians in the area of Jisreen, a war monitor said, even as the regime and businessmen held talks about the possible evacuation of residents from parts of the enclave.

That has in effect cut the large towns of Harasta and Douma off from each other and the rest of the enclave, it added.

On Monday, a convoy of 46 trucks delivered some provisions to Douma but was forced to turn back. The roads connecting the towns to each other were all covered by army fire, the Observatory said. "Warplanes haven't left the skies for 24 hours", opposition activist Anas al-Dimashqi told The Associated Press via text messages from the rebel-held town of Kfar Batna.

The World Health Organization said it has verified 67 hits on medical facilities in Syria through January and February, almost half of them in Eastern Ghouta. Some say I want to stay, some say I want to go, but both options have become risky.

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