Syrian government forces have massed around the last rebel-held town in the Eastern Ghouta area, after rebels were reportedly given a deadline to leave. Syrian media said troops were preparing for a “huge” operation in Douma, which is controlled by Jaysh al-Islam. The government’s ally Russia is said to have told the group late on Monday it had 48 hours to agree to be evacuated to Idlib province like other factions. According to the United Nations, 70,000 civilians are trapped in Douma.
Meanwhile, twelve earthquakes of at least 3.7-magnitude were recorded in Sulaimani on Wednesday. According to officials who monitor the tremors, the earthquakes were felt in the south and east of the province’s border areas with Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) earlier in this week. Although residents said they felt the tremors, especially in the city of Khanaqin, no casualties had been reported.
Lastly, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban militants. Ms Yousafzai, now aged 20 and a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the head by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012. She is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Details of the trip have been kept secret due to security reasons.