The Syrian army declared victory in eastern Ghouta Saturday after opposition fighters evacuated from most of the area near the capital except for the town of Douma where negotiations are still underway for rebels there to leave or face an all-out government offensive.
The retaking of Eastern Ghouta would mark a major milestone in President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to regain control of territory seized by rebel factions during Syria's seven-year civil war.
The unit of the powerful Lebanese Shia militia that has been fighting with the Syrian army said among the terms of the deal was setting up a Syrian government-approved local council to run the city's affairs after rebels withdraw.
It said that Jaish al-Islam would provide maps detailing the tunnels and mines it had planted in Douma to the Russians before they leave. Some pro-government new websites reported that the army is massing troops around Douma, adding that the ultimatum may be extended until Sunday.
According to CBS News, Douma was one of the earliest centers of the anti-government demonstrations that started in March 2011.
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Hundreds of residents are believed to require care for war wounds and medical conditions exacerbated by the siege.
On Saturday the rebel group concluded a week-long evacuation of thousands of its fighters from areas it had controlled in other parts of the enclave.
In video footage published by Jaish al-Islam online on Sunday, the group's leader told a group of men in a mosque he would stay put.
The rebels have been negotiating with Russian Federation, a key ally of Assad, for days on an agreement to evacuate Douma. Indicating divisions in Jaish al-Islam, a Syrian military source told Reuters some of the fighters were rejecting the deal and the army would use force unless they accepted it.
The fighters were expected to head to Jarablus, a town in northern Syria shared by rebels and Turkish forces.
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Syrian civilians and fighters arrive in Qalaat al Madiq, some 45 km northwest of the central city of Hama, on April 2, 2018, after being evacuated from the eastern Ghouta town of Douma. The security services responded by putting the town and other suburbs around Damascus under siege, bombing hospitals and residential areas, and blocking food and medical relief.
There was no immediate comment on Monday from the rebels themselves.
According to SANA, the Syrian government dispatched more than 50 buses to Douma to take the rebels out.
Under the deal, Syrian state media said Jaish al-Islam would hand over heavy and medium-sized weapons and acknowledge the restoration of the Damascus government's control of Douma.
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