Syria takes full control of capital

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2018

The Syrian regime says it has retaken the last neighbourhoods in southern Damascus held by Daesh and declared the capital and its surroundings "completely safe" from militants for the first time in almost seven years.

"Our armed forces and allied troops accomplished a full seizure of Hajr Aswad and surrounding areas after we got rid of a large number of IS militants and fully secured Al-Hajr al-Aswad and Yarmouk Camp areas", said Ali Maihoob, the spokesperson for the Syrian General Command of the Army and Armed forces.

"At dawn, six buses of IS fighters and their relatives left the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp and adjacent district of Tadamun", said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The camp has been deserted by most of its inhabitants following years of siege, and the few remaining residents fled to nearby areas in the last days of the bombardment.

The capital Damascus and its countryside are empty of "terror groups" after the elimination of IS from Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk Camp south of Damascus on Monday, which followed the recent defeat of rebels from other areas east and north of Damascus.

The battles for Yarmouk and Hajr al-Aswad left both neighbourhoods catastrophically damaged.

They had left towards the Syrian Badia, a sparsely populated expanse of territory east of the capital that extends to the border with Jordan and Iraq, it said.

Syrian army soldiers stand on the rubble of damage buildings in al Hajar al-Aswad Syria
Syria Denies Deal With IS to Evacuate Fighters

Syria's war erupted in 2011 with protests against Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, including in the capital.

The outlet reported on Monday that the departure of buses from south Damascus the night before was part of "an evacuation of women, children and the elderly during a temporary ceasefire enacted [Sunday] evening for humanitarian reasons".

Loyalist forces launched a ferocious assault in southern Damascus after capturing the Eastern Ghouta rebel stronghold near the capital in April. On the eve of Syria's civil war it was a built-up residential area home to tens of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians.

Bahram Ghasemi told reporters on Monday that no one can force Tehran to do anything it doesn't desire to do.

Mr Assad last week met Vladimir Putin, the president of Russian Federation, in Sochi.

Vladimir Putin's envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said on Friday that the Russian president's statement about the need for foreign troop pullout from Syria referred to Iran, Assad's key regional ally.

Mr. Putin told Mr. Assad during a meeting on Thursday that a political settlement in Syria should encourage foreign countries to pull out their troops from Syria.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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