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Syrian opposition and Russia reach agreement over Douma

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Opposition negotiators say they have reached a deal with Russia that will see the evacuation of fighters from the besieged Syrian city of Douma, reported Sky News (UK).

The agreement follows an alleged chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held enclave by Syrian government forces, which are backed by Russia.

Rebels from the Jaish al Islam group are to be evacuated from the area to northern Syria, while local authorities and Russian military policy will enter the city under the deal, local negotiators said.

They added that fighters who stay will not be pursued by authorities if they make peace with the regime and that conscription to the national military will not be imposed for six months.

Opposition sources said at least 70 people were killed by the alleged chemical attack late on Saturday, with more than 500 civilians reported injured.

Volunteer rescue service The White Helmets, which also has links to anti-Assad forces, said many of the victims of the alleged attack were women and children and published graphic images appearing to show dead children who had been frothing at the mouth.

The Syrian American Medical Society also described patients foaming at the mouth, saying victims suffered corneal burns and smelled of a "chlorine-like odour". One woman had convulsions and pinpoint pupils, the society said.

"The reported symptoms indicate that the victims suffocated from the exposure to toxic chemicals, most likely an organophosphate element," it said.

The medical relief group also claimed an "explosive barrel" attack on Douma hospital and its surrounding area had prevented ambulances from reaching victims.

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Tags: russia, syria, Douma
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