Syrian children ride their bike past destroyed buildings in the former rebel-held town of Zamalka, in Eastern Ghouta on April 5, 2018. / AFP / STRINGER
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Evacuations from the rebel-held town of Douma near the Syrian capital were suspended Thursday, days after hundreds of opposition fighters and their relatives left for areas of the country's north as part of a surrender deal following a massive government offensive.Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces were gathering around a southern part of Damascus ahead of a planned operation against Daesh (ISIS) militants there, activists said. Six-hundred-and-fifty fighters and civilians escorted by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent left Douma Wednesday and headed north toward the town of Jarablus, according to SANA and opposition activists.It said there are about 14,000 Jaish al-Islam fighters in Douma and the nearby eastern Qalamoun region.Separately, the U.S. military policy toward fighting Daesh in Syria remains the same following discussions with President Donald Trump this week and the military has not been given a timeline for withdrawing troops, the Pentagon said later Thursday.The United States is conducting airstrikes in Syria and has deployed about 2,000 troops on the ground, including special operations forces whose advice has helped Kurdish militias and other U.S.-backed fighters capture territory from Daesh.
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