Russia gave Jaysh al-Islam a 5-days’ notice to accept a full evacuation agreement that will force its leadership and all of its fighters to withdraw to the Turkish-held areas in northern Syria, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV reported on April 4.
During the last week, more than 2,000 civilians and pro-opposition fighters were evacuated from the Jaysh al-Islam-held Duma district in the northern part of the Eastern Ghouta region. However, al-Mayadeen said that none of them had been active members oof Jaysh al-Islam.
The religious leader of Jaysh al-Islam Abu Abd al-Rahman Ka’ka has stressed on many occasions over the last few days that the group is not willing to withdraw from Duma.
On April 3 Ka’ka said, during a speech in one of Duma’s mosques, that he and the military leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Essam al-Buwaydhani, had agreed that Jaysh al-Islam should not accept any evacuation agreement.
Al-Mayadeen said that the fate of dozens and possible hundreds of civilian captives in the Jaysh al-Islam prisons is hindering the efforts to reach an evacuation agreement. According to the Lebanese TV channel, Russia and the Damascus government want Jaysh al-Islam to release the captives before any agreement, while the group insists that it would only release them in exchange for militants who have been previously captured by government forces.
This issues appears to be on the way to be solved as Jaysh al-Islam released five civilian captives, including four women on April 4, according to a report by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). However, the fate of dozens others is to be known yet.
Syrian pro-government activists believe that a millitary option against Jaysh al-Islam is still on the table because the group appears to be determined to stay in the Duma district as long as it can.