Syrian pro-government fighters burn a Faylaq al-Rahman militant group's flag as they search for weapon caches in the town of Hazzeh in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 27, 2018. / AFP / STRINGER
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The Syrian army is preparing to launch a "huge" operation against the last rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta unless the Jaish al-Islam insurgent group agrees to hand over the area, a pro-Syrian government newspaper reported Wednesday.Routed by the Russian-backed Syrian army, rebels in other parts of eastern Ghouta are leaving in convoys to insurgent-held areas in the northwest under withdrawal deals that are restoring President Bashar Assad's control.The town was the main center of street protests in the Damascus suburbs against Assad's rule that ignited the conflict seven years ago.Although Jaish al-Islam denies planning to leave, two rebel sources said the fighters are weighing options including leaving for rebel-held areas further northeast in Qalamoun, or in southern Syria, despite some opposition by rival rebels there.
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