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Syria regime advances in Daesh-held pocket of Damascus

Local | 2018-05-15 16:37:00
Syria regime advances in Daesh-held pocket of Damascus
Syrian regime forces Tuesday retook a neighborhood south of Damascus from Daesh (ISIS), slicing off yet another part of the militant holdout, a monitoring group said.

The government of President Bashar Assad has since April 19 waged a fierce air and ground assault against the final Daesh-held pocket of the capital.

"The Syrian regime has seized control of the entire district of Hajar al-Aswad," Rami Abdel-Rahman said, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Fighting for Hajar al-Aswad had been particularly bloody, Abdel-Rahman told AFP.

Since the assault began in April, 221 pro-government fighters and 189 Daesh militants have been killed - nearly half of them in Hajar al-Aswad alone.

Daesh remains in control of the nearby district of Tadamon and 70 percent of the adjacent district of Yarmouk, a sprawling Palestinian camp.

"If the regime continues to advance on the ground, IS [Daesh] will be surrounded and will be forced to negotiate an evacuation deal," Abdel-Rahman said.

Such deals have allowed the government to recapture swathes of territory across Syria.

Around 160,000 Palestinian refugees once lived in Yarmouk, as well as Syrians. Just a few hundred people remain there now.

Daesh declared a "caliphate" in 2014 that included territory across Syria's north, center and east - but it now controls no more than five percent of the country.

Besides Yarmouk, it holds some desert territory in Syria's center and east.

More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in 2011.
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