Syrian government forces take full control of Douma, says Moscow
Syrian government forces have taken full control over the town of Douma, the last rebel stronghold in Eastern Ghouta, according to Russian military officials.
Douma was the last part of the rebel enclave on the eastern edge of Damascus to escape government control.
President Bashar al-Assad's victory comes amid widespread condemnation and potential air strikes against his forces over a suspected chemical attack in Douma on Saturday, which killed at least 40 people.
"The raised state flag over a building in the town of Douma has heralded the control over this location and therefore over the whole of eastern Ghouta," Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko, head of the Russian peace and reconciliation centre in Syria, was quoted as saying.
"Jaish al-Islam fighters handed over their heavy weapons to Russian military police in the town of Douma on Wednesday," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Most of Jaish al-Islam's top brass, including their head Issam Buwaydani, left Douma and arrived in northern Syria on Wednesday evening," the Britain-based monitor said.
His departure came under a fraught deal for Douma announced last weekend, just hours after an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in the town.
Under the agreement, thousands of Jaish al-Islam fighters and civilians have been bussed out of Douma to opposition-controlled parts of Syria's Aleppo province.
It was unclear whether more evacuations would take place on Thursday.
Russian military police began patrolling Douma on Thursday as part of the deal, according to the Russian defence ministry.