TOPSHOT - Pro Syrian regime forces are seen as they advance towards the town of Douma, the last opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta, on April 7, 2018, after regime troops resumed a military blitz to pressure rebels to withdraw. 
Backed up by Russia's firepower, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ousted his armed opponents from nearly all of Ghouta, their last stronghold on the edge of the capital. The regime has used a combination of a fierce military onslaught and two negotiated withdrawals to empty out 95 percent of the enclave, but rebels are still entrenched in its largest town of Douma. 
Pro Syrian regime forces are seen advancing towards the town of Douma on April 7. The Russian defence ministry said the Syrian regime flag was flying on Thursday in the town of Douma. AFP

Syrian regime flag raised in Douma: Russian military

Russia announced on Thursday that the Syrian regime flag was flying in the town of Douma, signalling President Bashar Al Assad's control of Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian government, however, has yet to officially announce it has fully retaken Eastern Ghouta's main town – the last part of the former rebel enclave on the eastern edge of Damascus.

"Today a significant event in the history of Syria took place. The raising of a regime flag over a building in the town of Douma signified control over this town and consequently over Eastern Ghouta as a whole," Major General Yury Yevtushenko, head of the Russian military's centre for reconciliation in Syria, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Russian television showed footage of the Syrian government's red, white and black flag with two green stars hanging from an unidentified building, while cheering crowds waved flags in among shell-damaged buildings.

An aide to Iran's supreme leader called the capture of the suburbs by the regime military one of the most significant victories of the war.


Read more:

Russia says operation in Eastern Ghouta is nearly over

At least 43 killed in one of the deadliest attacks in Damascus 

Syria: Ghouta death toll reaches 1,400 


Speaking from Damascus on Thursday an aide to Iran's supreme leader said he hoped Syrian forces would soon move east of the Euphrates river and "expel the American occupiers".

Ali Akbar Velayati also said he hoped that rebel-held Idlib province would be next to fall to President Bashar Al Assad's forces.

The Russian defence ministry said its military police had begun patrolling Douma, after announcing their planned deployment the day before.

"From today, units of the Russian armed forces' military police are working in the town of Douma. They are a guarantee of the observance of law and order in the town," the defence ministry said in a statement, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Russian military police have been in Douma this week as part of a deal with Jaish Al Islam, the rebel group that controlled the area for years.

Several thousands of its fighters were still in the town on Thursday and there was no immediate confirmation that any regime forces had entered the city.

The Russian military said the situation in Douma was normalising and a total of 166,644 people had been evacuated from the city through a humanitarian corridor.

A top Syrian rebel official told AFP on Thursday that his faction only agreed to abandon its battered enclave outside Damascus because of an alleged toxic gas attack.

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

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

If you go

The flights
There are various ways of getting to the southern Serengeti in Tanzania from the UAE. The exact route and airstrip depends on your overall trip itinerary and which camp you’re staying at. 
Flydubai flies direct from Dubai to Kilimanjaro International Airport from Dh1,350 return, including taxes; this can be followed by a short flight from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti with Coastal Aviation from about US$700 (Dh2,500) return, including taxes. Kenya Airways, Emirates and Etihad offer flights via Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.   


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

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