A picture taken on April 8, 2018, shows Syrian Army soldiers gathering in an area on the eastern outskirts of Douma, as they continue their fierce offensive to retake the last opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta. AFP / STRINGER
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Rebels in Syria's Eastern Ghouta surrendered their heavy weapons and their leader left the enclave, a monitor said Thursday, signaling the end of one of the bloodiest assaults of Syria's seven-year war. The Syrian flag was raised above the central mosque in Douma, the town where the regime is accused of carrying out a chemical attack that sparked outrage and threats of Western military action. Regime forces had yet to take over Douma Thursday but, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the rebels gave up their heavy weapons to the Russian military police in the town.Russian military police, who had started deploying in the town as part of a deal that would allow some rebels to disarm and stay in Douma, also left after the incident, the residents said.Gen. Yury Yevtushenko, head of the Russian military's center for reconciliation in Syria, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
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