Syrian President Bashar Assad (C) talking with government troops in Eastern Ghouta, in the leader's first trip to the former rebel enclave outside Damascus in years, March 18, 2018. (AFP/HO/Syrian presidency Facebook page)
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Turkish and Syrian-allied forces announced Sunday that they had established "total" control over the town Afrin, dealing a blow to Kurdish aspirations in northern Syria after the loss of the key stronghold. Meanwhile, Syrian forces have taken more than 80 percent of Eastern Ghouta, and a spokesperson from a main rebel faction told The Daily Star they were in "serious" negotiations with the United Nations about a cease-fire agreement. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army spokesperson Lt. Mohammad al-Hamadeen said in comments to The Daily Star that forces entered Afrin city early Sunday and, facing "weak resistance," quickly established full control. Issa also said at least 500 civilians had been killed in the past 58 days of fighting and more than 800 Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, according to agencies.Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have split Eastern Ghouta into three besieged areas in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the 7-year-old war.
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