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ISIS Militants Evacuated from Southern Damascus to Desert

ISIS Militants Evacuated from Southern Damascus to Desert

Monday, 21 May, 2018 - 05:45
Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are seen in Deir Ezzor, Syria May 1, 2018. (Reuters)

Several buses on Sunday evacuated ISIS militants from their last pockets in southern Damascus to the Syrian Desert in the east under a deal that was reached following weeks of fierce battles.

The deal stipulates the halt of fighting in the Yarmouk camp and the adjacent al-Tadamun neighborhood.

“Six buses, carrying ISIS militants and their families, left the Yarmouk camp and the adjacent al-Tadamun neighborhood at dawn today (Sunday) heading east towards the Syrian Desert,” where the extremists still control some areas, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Later, the Observatory explained that the convoy of buses headed towards the city of Tadmur on its way to the so-called Badiya area between eastern Homs and west of Deir Ezzor Province.

The Syrian regime has denied reaching an agreement to evacuate a number of ISIS militants from their stronghold in southern Damascus, state media SANA reported on Sunday.

For his part, the secretary of the Alliance of Palestinian Resistance factions in Syria, Khaled Abdul Majid told the German news agency that the Yarmouk withdrawal deal is probably closer to surrender, adding that the extremists had demanded the Russian Army to act as a mediator, securing their evacuation to eastern Syria.

Abdul Majid estimated that about 1,500 people, including the militants and their families, were evacuated on Sunday.

“The extremists burned their residences and belongings in the Yamouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad where all military operations had stopped since Saturday noon,” he added.

In the east of Syria, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by US-French artillery shelling, advanced on ISIS militants in the last pocket controlled by extremists in Deir Ezzor province.

The SDF forces said they now control the strategic village of Baghuz on the border with Iraq, from where they would resume expelling extremist fighters from the remaining ISIS-held areas on the Euphrates.

Early this month, SDF forces kicked off the final stage of a battle to expel ISIS from eastern Syria.

Backed by the US-led coalition, the Kurdish SDF has driven the extremist group out of large parts of the country.

On Sunday, three towns in Deir Ezzor - Hajeen, Susa and Sha’afah - remained under ISIS control.

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