Syrian regime bombards IS-held Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp
The Syrian regime has bombarded extremists in the last area outside government control near Damascus on Friday, a day after it launched a campaign to retake the suburbs.
Regime forces targeted the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and the neighbourhoods of Hajar al-Aswad with air raids and shelling, local media reported.
Government forces began bombarding the neighborhoods, which are under the control of the Islamic State group, on Thursday only hours after the militants were given two days to leave.
Negotiations to forcibly evacuate the IS militants have so far failed, according to local opposition activist Rami al-Sayyid.
"The regime offered a deal to evacuate to the south but IS rejected the proposal and demanded to leave to the north near the Turkish border," Sayyid told The New Arab.
Syrian regime forces have mobilised on the outskirts of the IS-held area south of the capital in preparation for an imminent ground operation.
IS launched missiles on several Damascus neighbourhoods on Thursday, state-run media said.
Local news website Zaman al-Wasl reported on Thursday that IS commanders have begun to flee the area ahead of the imminent campaign.
Yarmouk and Hajar al-Aswad were taken over by IS in 2015. The neighbourhoods are the last remaining area in the capital yet to be retaken by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Last month, IS overran the adjacent Qadam neighbourhood, taking advantage as regime troops focused on the blistering campaign to expel opposition fighters from Eastern Ghouta.
Since regaining full control of Eastern Ghouta to the northeast of Damascus from rebels last week, the regime has turned its attention to the jihadist-held districts in the capital's south.
The Syrian government took control of the town of Dumayr northeast of Damascus on Thursday after rebels evacuated to north Syria - the latest in a string of handovers by rebels to the government.