Syrian regime, Daesh agree on evacuations from Yarmouk


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.

"The Syrian army announces today that Damascus, its outskirts and surrounding towns are completely secure", it said in a statement carried on official media.

The recapture of Daesh-held pockets in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the nearby Hajar al-Aswad district in southern Damascus came after a massive bombing campaign that has all but decimated what was left of the residential area on the edge of the capital, once home to about 200,000 Palestinian refugees.

It comes after a temporary humanitarian ceasefire was implemented in al-Hajar al-Aswad on Sunday night, to evacuate children, women, and the elderly.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom -based war monitor group, said there was a Russian-brokered deal between the Syrian government and IS militants to leave the area.

Shortly before noon Monday when the truce was supposed to end in Hajar al-Aswad, government warplanes struck IS positions as Syrian troops began pounding and advancing slowly deeper into the neighbourhood.

The significance of this achievement emanates from the defeat of the most "vicious terrorist group" and proves that the Syrian army has become more powerful and determined to eliminate the terrorist groups in other Syrian areas.

The Syrian army is clearing out the last remaining blocks of the recently liberated Yarmouk camp, located in the south of Damascus, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

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A resident of Yarmuk who was evacuated on Monday said IS fighters had tried to take precautions.

Assad's forces have been making steady gains since 2015 when Russian joined the conflict on his side.

Syria's war erupted in 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, including in the capital.

Last year, IS fighters and relatives were evacuated from an area on the Lebanese-Syrian border under a deal between IS and Hezbollah, the regime's powerful Lebanese ally.

Syrian government forces are engaged in building to building cleansing operations of remaining terrorists in the northern part of al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood.

Syria's state-run Sana news agency however quoted a military source as denying the agreement.

While Assad has vowed to win back "every inch" of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a more complicated time ahead from now on.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi told reporters that no one can force Tehran to do anything it doesn't want to do.