Damascus Fully Freed of Militants as Syrian Army Clears Last Stronghold

Tanya Simon
May 22, 2018

The Syrian Army has issued a statement today declaring victory in the fight over metro Damascus, saying that effective Monday Damascus and all of its surroundings are "completely secure" and under military and government control.

Iran says it is in Syria at the behest of the Assad government and says it is fighting "terrorism" in the form of Islamic extremists, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.

In a televised statement on Monday afternoon, Gen Mayhoub announced that "Damascus and its surroundings, its countryside and its towns, are completely secure" following "a series of intensive and successive military operations".

But in a first official comment on evacuations, a military source said Monday that a brief ceasefire had allowed some civilians to be transferred out overnight.

Under the terms of the deal, seven busloads of Daesh terrorists will be allowed to leave the camp for Badiya, a Daesh-held region of Homs province, the sources said.

"The evacuations are over, after 32 buses took 1,600 people including IS fighters and their relatives out of southern Damascus on Sunday and Monday", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. The channel's area correspondent said the coming hours would be "decisive" for restoring government control in Hajar al-Aswad, but didn't mention Yarmouk.

On Sunday, activists reported that the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by artillery from the US -led coalition, have shelled Hajin, the main IS stronghold in the province on the eastern banks of the Euphrates river.

War milestone: Syrian army declares complete control of Damascus after ousting Islamic State in devastating battle

Assad's troops launched their offensive on southern Damascus a month ago, taking advantage of the gains enjoyed since Russian Federation entered the war on their side in 2015.

The captured areas included the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus, which was the site of an intense barrel-bombing campaign by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad against rebels and civilians in the early years of the civil war that began in March 2011.

Syria's state media denied a deal was reached to evacuate fighters.

Daesh militants posted several grisly pictures on their social media accounts purportedly showing regime or allied fighters they beheaded during the operation, which the observatory said also left more than 250 pro-regime fighters dead.

"With the start of a political process in its more active phase, foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic", Mr. Putin said.

Russian Federation and Iran have been Assad's strongest backers and have joined the war on his side.

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