Syrian army pounds Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus

UNRWA concerned over fate of refugees in Yarmuk camp

Syrian army pounds Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported Sunday that Syrian forces carried out precision strikes on the Hajar al-Aswad area, targeting IS supply routes deep in the Hajar al-Aswad area, which was not mentioned in the evacuation deal.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), said, "Yarmouk was a refugee camp that had already been transformed into a death camp, and even in that state it has just experienced a week of really intense fighting".

Fighters from Isil entered the area in 2015 and quickly defeated other rebel factions, subjecting the remaining residents to a brutal rule similar to that in Raqqa and other areas controlled by the jihadist group. Opposition sources, cited by Reuters, claimed that the army was engaged in fighting with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Yarmouk camp, where up to 2,000 militants are encircled. The area's last functioning hospital has also been taken out of commission by bombing, according to the agency.

A deal has also been reached to evacuate rebel fighters from the areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem, also in southern Damascus, according to SANA.

The entire capital will be free of rebels and the military operation is expected to move towards the southern province of Daraa, which is around 100 km from Damascus.

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

The Syrian army has been on a crushing offensive on the Yarmouk Camp and the adjacent Hajar al-Aswad area to drive out IS militants, after the terror-designated group rejected a deal to evacuate these areas earlier this month.

Yarmouk and its surroundings have been the militant group's largest urban redoubt in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, after IS lost most of the swaths of territory it once held in both countries.

The announcement of a deal for Yalda and nearby areas comes after the regime reconquered what was once a key rebel bastion east of Damascus this month.

Eastern Ghouta fell after a blistering air and ground assault and Russia-backed evacuation deals that saw tens of thousands of people bussed out to northern Syria.

At least 74 regime personnel and 59 Daesh fighters have been killed in eight days of fighting in southern Damascus, the monitor 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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