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Syria regime, rebels reach evacuation deal in southern Damascus

01 May 2018, 04:56 | Myrtle Vega

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Soldiers near Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in south Damascus

Rebels with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front evacuated the al-Qadam area last month and the IS militants in the nearby areas stormed large parts of the neighborhood.

The announcement comes almost two weeks into the government's campaign to oust Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) group fighters from the capital's southern suburbs, including the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

A deal was reached on Sunday for the rebels to evacuate the Yarmouk Camp area in south of Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, the state TV reported.

The source said that army units continued operations against the gatherings and hotbeds of terrorist organizations at the southern outskirts of Damascus, seizing control of al-Mazniyeh, al-Qadam, al-Asali, and al-Joura neighborhoods after destroying the terrorists' fortified positions and inflicting heavy losses upon them in personnel and weaponry.

In 2015, IS took over large areas of the camp.

The reported deal is the latest in a string of such agreements that have seen the government retake areas near the capital after rebel withdrawals.

Following their victory in capturing the rebel-held eastern Ghouta last month, regime troops have moved their focus towards Yarmouk and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

That bombardment intensified Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said, as regime forces advanced against Daesh inside the districts.

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United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has warned against the disastrous consequences of the serious escalation of fighting in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria and expressed its deep concern about the fate of thousands of Palestinian refugees in and around the camp.

Regime forces were locked in violent clashes with IS fighters on Friday morning, the Britain-based monitor said.

Fighting has also occurred in an area bordering Yarmuk camp and Hajar Al Aswad, "which the regime is trying to divide", Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told the media.

As part of the deal state establishments will return to the area to provide services to citizens after the evacuation.

Eastern Ghouta fell after a brutal military operation and a series of similar evacuation deals brokered by government ally Russian Federation that saw tens of thousands of residents bussed to northern Syria.

At least 79 regime fighters and 68 Daesh militants have also been killed, the Observatory said.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011 with a deadly crackdown on anti-government protests.



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