Syrian Army Says Damascus and Surroundings Fully Secure, Islamic State Group Ousted

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Syrian Army Says Damascus and Surroundings Fully Secure, Islamic State Group Ousted

The Syrian army said Damascus and its surroundings were fully secure after the army cleared the last insurgent-held area around the capital of Islamic State fighters on Monday.

The Syrian army raised the country's flag over the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus on Tuesday as state media promoted what it said was the "liberation" of the last quarters of the capital from rebels and Islamic State militants.

But in a first official comment on evacuations, a military source said Monday that a brief ceasefire had allowed some civilians to be transferred out overnight.

The capital Damascus and its countryside are empty of "terror groups" after the elimination of IS from Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk Camp south of Damascus on Monday, which followed the recent defeat of rebels from other areas east and north of Damascus.

Syrian state media agency SANA denied reports of any evacuation deal between IS and the Syrian government on Saturday.

Although most militants left the area, separate extremist groups remained in the camp, the news outlet said, adding that government forces had launched a mop-up operation.

The latest evacuations, according to the Observatory, leave the government in control of Tadamun, Qadam and Hajar al-Aswad.

The fighting resumed in the Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

A resident of Yarmuk who was evacuated on Monday said IS fighters had tried to take precautions.

In March and April, thousands of opposition fighters surrendered and evacuated Damascus suburbs known as eastern Ghouta, after a crushing government offensive marking another victory for Assad.

Syria's president, Bashar Assad, lost control of large sections of the country in the early years of the war, which began in 2011, and seemed headed for defeat before Russian Federation intervened on his behalf in 2015.

ISIS forces managed to infiltrate the Yarmouk refugee camp and surrounding area, south of Damascus.

The Observatory said that the fighters were heading east toward the desert and that they had been setting their offices and vehicles on fire so that government forces could not use them.

President Bashar Assad's forces launched an offensive against IS militants in southern Damascus a month ago.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi told reporters that no one can force Tehran to do anything it doesn't want to do. In his first major foreign policy speech since taking the post as the top US diplomat, he issued a list of demands that he said should be included in any new nuclear treaty with Iran, including that it "withdraw all forces" from Syria, halt support for Hezbollah and stop threatening Israel.

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.

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