Syrian Regime Forces Expel ISIS From Hajar Al-Aswad Region

Syrian Regime Forces Expel ISIS From Hajar Al-Aswad Region

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018 - 09:30
Destruction in Syria. (AFP)
Beirut, London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian regime forces retook on Tuesday a neighborhood south of Damascus from ISIS, slicing off yet another part of the extremists’ holdout, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Since April 19, the Bashar Assad regime has waged a fierce air and ground assault against the final ISIS-held pocket of the capital.

“The Syrian regime has seized control of the entire district of Hajar al-Aswad,” Observatory Director Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP.

Fighting for Hajar al-Aswad had been particularly bloody, he added.

Regime forces were able to capture the Kadam neighborhood, but the fierce fighting aimed at controlling Hajar al-Aswad was very difficult.

ISIS has been controlling the Yarmouk refugee camp south of the Syrian capital, as well as parts of the al-Tadamon neighborhood, since 2015.

The expulsion of ISIS from those neighborhoods will allow the army to extend its control over the entire capital for the first time since 2012.

Since the assault began in April, 221 pro-regime fighters and 189 ISIS militants have been killed - nearly half of them in Hajar al-Aswad alone.

“If the regime continues to advance on the ground, ISIS will be surrounded and will be forced to negotiate an evacuation deal,” Abdul Rahman said. Such deals have allowed the regime to recapture swathes of territory across Syria.

Around 160,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as Syrians, once lived in Yarmouk. Just a few hundred people remain there now.

Due to the large losses in 2017, ISIS now controls only few pockets that do not exceed five percent of Syria’s area, including limited areas in the Syrian Badia and Deir Ezzor east and south of the country.

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