Regime says Damascus 'completely secure', declares victory in capital

Regime says Damascus 'completely secure', declares victory in capital
This marks the first time since the civil war began in 2011 that regime forces control the capital and all its suburbs.
2 min read
Smoke rises from Yarmouk during regime-run tour of Damascus [Getty]

The Syrian regime said on Monday it has retaken the last pockets of Damascus held by IS, declaring the capital free of militants.

Gen. Ali Mayhoub said the army captured the former IS strongholds in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad after a monthlong campaign, according to Syrian state-run TV. 

"The Syrian army announces today that Damascus, its outskirts and surrounding towns are completely secure," Mayhoub said.

The announcement means Damascus and its far-flung suburbs are now fully under control of President Bashar al-Assad's forces. 

Syrian regime forces resumed their offensive against IS on Monday after a brief ceasefire, allowing a group of civilians from the area to be evacuated. The regime's offensive has left scores dead and caused massive destruction in Yarmouk. 

Shortly before noon Monday, when the truce ended, regime warplanes struck IS held areas as Syrian troops began pounding and advancing slowly in the remaining IS-held neighbourhoods in Damascus, according to state TV. The truce had been in place to evacuate women, children and elderly on Sunday night from Damascus' southern neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad.

Damascus residents said warplanes were flying over the city again. The fighting resumed in the Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

The Observatory said Monday that a new batch of fighters and their families left late Sunday, heading east toward the Syrian desert. It added that IS fighters have been setting their offices and vehicles on fire so that government forces would not be able to seize equipment or documents belonging to the group.

President Bashar Assad's forces launched an offensive against IS militants in southern Damascus a month ago. The offensive has brought more than 70 per cent of the area under regime control.

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