Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western Syria

Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western SyriaA war monitor said buses evacuated Islamic State fighters from an enclave south of Damascus on Sunday in a withdrawal deal, though state media denied the report and said the Syrian army was fighting to finish off the insurgents. The recovery of the enclave south of Damascus will mark another milestone in President Bashar al-Assad’s war effort, crushing the last besieged rebel enclave in western Syria. Swathes of territory at the borders with Iraq, Turkey and Jordan, however, remain outside state control. Syrian government forces and their allies have been battling to recover the enclave south of Damascus since defeating rebels in eastern Ghouta, also near the capital, in April. The area is centred around the al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjoining Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. In a live broadcast, a reporter with Syrian state TV said the Syrian army operations in the Hajar al-Aswad area were nearing their end and insurgent lines were collapsing as columns of smoke rose from the area behind him. Smoke billowing from the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk during regime strikes targeting the Islamic State group in the camp Credit: Stringer/AFP The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said buses had entered the enclave after midnight to take out fighters and their families. They had left towards the Syrian Badia, a sparsely populated expanse of territory east of the capital that extends to the border with Jordan and Iraq, it said. Islamic State militants had torched their offices in the Yarmouk enclave, the Observatory said. Negotiated withdrawals have been a common feature of the Syrian war in recent years as the government, aided by the Russian military and Iran-backed forces, has steadily clawed back territory. The rebels have mostly been given safe passage to northwestern Syria. In the last two months alone, the United Nations says 110,000 people have been evacuated to northwestern Syria and rebel-held areas north of Aleppo. Syrian president Bashar Assad meets Vladimir Putin for talks in Sochi on May 17 Credit: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP The opposition has called it a policy of forced displacement amounting to demographic change to drive out Assad’s opponents. The Syrian government has said nobody is forced to leave and those who stay must accept state rule. While Assad has vowed to win back “every inch” of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a more complicated time ahead from now on. The U.S. military is in much of the east and northeast, which is controlled by Kurdish groups that want autonomy from Damascus. It has used force to defend the territory from pro-Assad forces. Turkey has sent forces into the northwest to counter those same Kurdish groups, carving out a buffer zone where anti-Assad rebels have regrouped. In the southwest, where rebels hold territory at the Israeli and Jordanian border, Assad faces the risk of conflict with Israel, which wants his Iranian-backed allies kept well away from the frontier and has mounted air strikes in Syria.

Source: Yahoo! News

Syrian Government Nears Control of Enclave Hit by Suspected Chemical Attack

  1. Syrian Government Nears Control of Enclave Hit by Suspected Chemical Attack  Wall Street Journal
  2. French president claims ‘proof’ Syria used chemical weapons in deadly attack  USA TODAY
  3. Russia says Syrian government now in control of rebel town  Washington Post
  4. The siege that forced a suburb underground  CNN
  5. Full coverage

Source: Google News

Deadly gas attack reported on civilians in a Syrian rebel enclave

  1. Deadly gas attack reported on civilians in a Syrian rebel enclave  Business Insider
  2. Poison Gas Attack Reported by Syrian Anti-Government Activists  New York Times
  3. Syria war: Scores dead in Syria gas attack, rescuers and medics say  BBC News
  4. Special Report – How a secret Russian airlift helps Syria’s Assad  Reuters
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Source: Google News – Entertainment

Gas attack reported on Syrian rebel enclave, Damascus denies

Gas attack reported on Syrian rebel enclave, Damascus deniesA Syrian rebel group accused government forces on Saturday of dropping a barrel bomb containing poisonous chemicals on civilians in eastern Ghouta, and a medical relief organization said 35 people had been killed in chemical attacks on the area. Syrian state media denied government forces had launched any chemical attack as soon as the reports began circulating and said rebels in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma were in a state of collapse and spreading false news. On Saturday evening, the U.S. State Department said it was monitoring the situation and that Russia should be blamed if chemicals were used.

Source: Yahoo! News