Syrian army renews push on rebel pockets

Syrian army renews push on rebel pockets
Assad's forces are seeking to recapture the last-remaining besieged areas in Syria.
2 min read
30 April, 2018
Syrian regime forces in al-Qadam, on the edge of the capital Damascus [Getty]
The Syrian regime began an intense bombardment of a rebel-held pocket between Hama and Homs on Monday, as President Bashar al-Assad's forces seek to recapture the last-remaining besieged areas in the country.

The pocket - the most populous remaining besieged area in Syria - was pounded by air strikes and artillery, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Reinforcements arrived in regime-held areas before the bombardment, which targeted Rastan and several other nearby villages. 

Rebel and opposition groups control large swathes of territory in northwest and southwest Syria. Mostly Kurdish forces backed by the US hold large parts of northern and eastern Syria after driving out the Islamic State group last year. 

On Sunday, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured several villages pro-regime forces had seized in eastern Syria. 

Meanwhile, an agreement was reached between the Syrian regime and several rebel factions to evacuate the last three rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, according to state media.

news agency said the deal will let opposition fighters who want to evacuate the area head to rebel-held regions while those who decide to stay can hand over their weapons and benefit from an amnesty.

The Observatory said rebels who leave will head to the northwestern province of Idlib, the northern town of Jarablus and the southern province of Daraa that borders Jordan.

The three suburbs of Babila, Beit Sahem and Yalda have been held by rebels for years and their capture would bring all suburbs of the capital under government control.

The agreement came as government forces captured more areas from the Islamic State group in the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the neighbourhood of Hajar al-Aswad.

SANA said troops captured most of the Qadam neighbourhood as well as the Assali and Joura quarters in Hajar Aswad.

Separately, an overnight missile attack near Hama left 26 pro-regime fighters, mostly Iranians, dead. Iranian media gave conflicting reports about the overnight incident amid speculation it was carried out by neighbouring Israel.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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