Yarmouk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict


Syria's military on Monday captured an enclave in southern Damascus from Islamic State militants after a ruinous monthlong battle, bringing the entire capital and its far-flung suburbs under full government control for the first time since the civil war began in 2011.

The Syrian Arab Army "took control over the Yarmouk camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad", a spokesman for the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces announced in a press conference in Damascus on Monday afternoon.

Earlier, the Syrian government forces regained control over the eastern neighborhoods of the district of Yarmouk located south of Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom -based war monitor group, said there was a Russian-brokered deal between the Syrian government and IS militants to leave the area.

On Sunday, a war monitor said fighters had begun withdrawing from the area towards Islamic State territory in eastern Syria under a surrender deal, but state media said fighting continued.

The official says the cease-fire ends at noon on Monday, after which government forces will resume their operations in the Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

The recapture of Hajar al-Aswad follows a month-long offensive by the army to recapture some areas under IS control.

Pro-Syrian Government forces have been battling for weeks to recover al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp from Islamic State since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April.

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Damascus residents said the situation was calm, with no warplanes flying overhead Sunday.

Since a year ago, the Syrian regime has cleared swathes of territory around Damascus from its armed opponents through a blend of military pressure and evacuation deals.

Last year, IS fighters and relatives were evacuated from an area on the Lebanese-Syrian border under a deal between IS and Hezbollah, the regime's powerful Lebanese ally.

With Iran's help, Assad's forces have been making steady gains since 2015, when Russian Federation launched an air campaign on behalf of his forces.

Government and allied forces started an operation last month to flush out jihadists and other groups from a cluster of neighborhoods in southern Damascus.

The report follows a string of violent blasts at a Hama air base on Friday that the Observatory said killed at least 11 pro-Syrian government fighters.

While Mr Assad has vowed to win back "every inch" of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a complicated time ahead.

The US-led coalition told AFP on Monday it was aware of the reported evacuations from Yarmuk and was "monitoring the situation".