DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:15 P.M.) – Following a rare deal between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Jaish Al-Islam, hundreds of captive civilians and soldiers, mostly Alawites, were released in return for 51 aid convoys entering Douma in eastern Damascus.
The total number of released prisoners, shown caged in November 2015 to prevent airstrikes on the Jaish Al-Islam stronghold, was not specified but the deal signifies a positive step in restoring peace to the Syrian capital.
Sheikh Issam Al-Buwaydani, commander-in-chief of Jaish Al-Islam’s military operations in the East Ghouta, reportedly spearheaded the negotiations himself with a delegation of SAA representatives over walkie-talkie.
With a massive aid convoy heading along the Harasta Highway en route to Douma overnight, scores of predominately Alawite prisoners arrived in government-held downtown Damascus and were immediately transferred to hospital to monitor their conditions.
Most were said to have been captured in Adra, a town just northeast of Douma which witnessed a massacre of minority civilians back in December, 2013.
Meanwhile, heavy infighting continues to plague the East Ghouta region as Jaish Al-Islam continues to confront Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), Failaq Al-Sham (FSA) and Ahrar Al-Sham.