x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Second group of ISIS fighters leaves Damascus district, monitor says

A military source said a temporary ceasefire was in place

Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al Assad forces in Al Qadam near Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus, Syria, on April 29, 2018. Reports on May 21 suggested ISIS forces have now left Yarmouk. Reuters
Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al Assad forces in Al Qadam near Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus, Syria, on April 29, 2018. Reports on May 21 suggested ISIS forces have now left Yarmouk. Reuters

A second group of ISIS fighters left their last stronghold in Damascus overnight, a UK-based war monitor said on Monday, while the government has yet to confirm any evacuation deal with the extremist group.

However, a military source was quoted by the official Sana news agency as saying that a temporary ceasefire was in place to allow women, children and elderly to leave the area of Al Hajar Al Aswad.

Pro-Syrian regime forces have launched an intensive operation to recover ISIS’s south Damascus pocket in Al Hajar Al Aswad and the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp since driving rebels from Eastern Ghouta in April.

Yarmouk is the last Damascus district beyond government control and its full evacuation would bring the entire capital and its surroundings under regime control for the first time since 2012.

"A second batch of elements from the ISIS organisation left after midnight," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"They are heading to a pocket in the desert still under the control of the extremist organisation.”

Read more: ISIS attacked in eastern Syria as fighter reach deal to leave Damascus

The first group of ISIS fighters was transferred by bus out of southern Damascus on Sunday, the monitor said.

The military source quoted by Sana said a ceasefire that began on Sunday would remain in place until 12noon (1pm UAE time) on Monday to allow women and children to leave the area.

It said the government would subsequently resume its operations.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has used a combination of military pressure and evacuation deals in recent months to recapture territory around the capital from his armed opponents.

The assault against the extremists in southern Damascus has left more than 250 pro-regime forces, 233 militants and more than 60 civilians dead, according to the Observatory.