Syria regains control of Damascus, after seven years of fighting

A Syrian army tank advancing through a street in Hajar al Aswad in the push against the final ISIS militants in the city

A Syrian army tank advancing through a street in Hajar al Aswad in the push against the final ISIS militants in the city

The Syrian army has restored control over all areas surrounding the capital Damascus, it said Monday, for the first time since early in the seven-year war, after pushing Islamic State group out of a south Damascus pocket.

The army made the announcement in a televised statement after establishing control of the Damascus neighborhood of al-Hajar al-Aswad on Monday, according to local media.

Tehran has already said its forces will not leave Syria but will continue fighting "terrorism" there at the request of the Syrian government.

Although most militants left the area, separate extremist groups remained in the camp, the news outlet said, adding that government forces had launched a mop-up operation.

The Observatory said evacuation of the IS group is over, after 32 buses took 1,600 people including fighters and their relatives, out of southern Damascus.

The camp has been deserted by most of its inhabitants following years of siege, and the few remaining residents fled to nearby areas in the last days of the bombardment.

The push into Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk came after government forces captured the last rebel-held southern and eastern suburbs of Damascus, boosting security in Assad's seat of power.

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

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a similar deal had been reached for Yarmuk at the weekend.

Bombs exploding over rebel-held areas of the city as government forces shell enemy positions
Bombs exploding over rebel-held areas of the city as government forces shell enemy positions

Syria's president, Bashar Assad, lost control of large sections of the country in the early years of the war, which began in 2011, and seemed headed for defeat before Russian Federation intervened on his behalf in 2015.

Since past year, the Syrian regime has cleared swathes of territory around Damascus from its armed opponents through a blend of military pressure and evacuation deals.

The TV quotes an unnamed military official as saying that a truce was in place to evacuate women, children and elderly people on Sunday night from Damascus' southern neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad. It has used force to defend the territory from pro-Assad forces.

Al-Watan, a pro-government newspaper, said the militants are believed to have surrendered.

Yarmouk Camp was home to the largest Palestinian diaspora in Syria.

It said the government would subsequently resume its operations.

Iran and Russian Federation have joined forces in Syria, providing crucial military support to Assad's forces and giving them the upper hand in the civil war.

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

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