Syrian government says Damascus and surrounds 'free from militants'

Pulverised Yarmuk testimony to bitter'battle of Damascus

Pulverised Yarmuk testimony to bitter'battle of Damascus

Syria's military says it has retaken the last neighborhoods in southern Damascus held by the Islamic State group and is declaring the capital and its surroundings "completely safe" and free of any militant presence.

A state television presenter said the recovery of al-Hajar al-Aswad meant the area south of Damascus had been completely cleared of insurgents.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian state TV said a brief cease-fire went into force on Sunday afternoon until Monday noon for the evacuation of humanitarian cases from Hajar al-Aswad before the military operation continued in that area.

The war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Monday that buses had already started leaving south Damascus for Islamic State areas in eastern Syria.

Piles of rubble were still blocking most streets, making them impossible for cars to access during a media tour of the area organised by Syria's government.

The Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood and the Yarmouk refugee camp remain the last IS stronghold on the southern outskirts of Damascus.

The desert area to which Yarmouk's Isil fighters have been sent is home to USA forces, Kurdish groups and Jordanian proxy groups.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used a combination of military pressure and evacuation deals in recent months to recapture territory around the capital from his armed opponents.

Yarmouk is the last Damascus district to escape government control and its full evacuation would bring the entire capital and its surroundings under regime control for the first time since 2012.

Monday's reported SAA capture of south Damascus came in the wake of reports that IS fighters were evacuated from their positions in the capital over the weekend under an agreement with government forces.

ISIS had controlled the suburb of Hajar Al Aswad, located within Yarmouk, but Syrian regime officials said it had begun evacuating women, children and elderly people from the area on Sunday night.

Al-Watan, a pro-government newspaper, said the militants are believed to have surrendered. Before Syria's civil war began, it was a built-up residential area home to tens of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians.

Takfiri terrorists have lost much of the territory they once held in Syria amid sweeping gains by government forces on the ground.

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

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

Russian Federation and Iran have been Assad's strongest backers and have joined the war on his side.

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