Syria forces enter Douma, last holdout in rebel bastion: state media

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)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Syria forces enter Douma, last holdout in rebel bastion: state media

DAMASCUS: Syria's internal security forces entered Douma on Saturday, state media reported, saying the final rebel holdout on the edge of Damascus would be secured within "hours".
Douma was the last rebel-held town in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, and is the site of the alleged gas attack that prompted a volley of Western air strikes on Saturday.
Rebels had captured it in 2012, and Syrian government fighters had not entered it since.
"Units from the internal security forces entered Douma in Eastern Ghouta," state television reported.
"We are hours away from ending the terrorist presence in Douma," it added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the units had entered after the last buses of opposition fighters left Douma on Saturday for northern Syria.
The departures come under a negotiated withdrawal reached last weekend between the Jaish al-Islam Islamist rebel faction, Syria's regime, and its Russian ally.
Under the deal, Russian military police were to deploy in the town but Syrian forces were not to enter.
Jaish al-Islam has said it only agreed to the deal because of the Syrian government's purported use of toxic chemicals on Douma, which medics said killed more than 40 people.
Syria and Russia have both denied using chemical weapons and said the claims were fabrications used to justify Western military action.
A team from the global chemical watchdog was meant to start an investigation inside Douma on Saturday.
Syria said the US, French, and British strikes were an attempt to "hinder the mission's work".


Iran warns US of stronger reaction if its borders violated again: Tasnim

Updated 42 min 1 sec ago
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Iran warns US of stronger reaction if its borders violated again: Tasnim

  • ‘The downing of their drone was a good experience for them to avoid any aggression against our borders’
  • Iran said the unmanned US aircraft was in its air space, which Washington denied

DUBAI: Iran warned the United States against violation of its borders, with parliament speaker Ali Larijani threatening a stronger reaction, the Tasnim news agency said on Thursday, a week after Tehran shot down a US drone, spiking tension between them.
“The downing of their drone was a good experience for them to avoid any aggression against our borders,” the semi-official agency quoted Larijani as saying late on Wednesday.
“Iran’s reaction will be stronger if they repeat their mistake of violating our borders.”
Iran said the unmanned US aircraft was in its air space, which Washington denied. Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes but called them off at the last minute, later saying too many people would have died.
The rhetoric between the sides has heated up, with Trump this week threatening Iran’s “obliteration” after President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday called the White House’s actions “mentally retarded.”
On Wednesday, Trump said any war between Iran and the United States would be swift, but reiterated his desire to avoid a military confrontation even while blasting Tehran’s leaders.