A rebel fighter of Jaish al-Islam warms himself near a fire, on Al-Rayhan village front near the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
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After Syrian forces bombed the town of Douma earlier this month in an attack the United States says involved chlorine gas, Washington and its allies launched missile strikes as punishment.Within hours of the April 7 attack they were in retreat.Under pressure from beleaguered residents and facing Russian threats of further such attacks, the rebel group Jaish al-Islam finally agreed to surrender Douma and leave for the Turkish border, Mohammad Alloush, a top official in the movement, said.Now you can only sign, or there will be more strikes and nobody left in the town,'" Alloush, who is based in Istanbul, told Reuters.He blamed Russia for helping the Syrian army carry out the attack in order to end the rebellion.Jaish al-Islam, however, believed it could avoid the same fate even as Syrian troops encircled Douma, saying it wanted to protect the town and its people from forced displacement imposed by the Assad government.That afternoon the most ferocious bombardment yet was unleashed on Douma.As the airstrikes continued, Alloush reiterated Jaish al-Islam's demand that it be allowed to stay in Douma to protect its people.
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