ISIS reportedly leaving final stronghold in Damascus

by WorldTribune Staff, May 20, 2018

Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists were evacuated from the Yarmouk enclave south of Damascus, the terror group’s last stronghold in Syria’s capital, a report said.

Syrian army tank on the southern outskirts of Damascus. / Sana via AFP

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on May 20 that, in a withdrawal deal with the Syrian government, buses had entered Yarmouk to transport ISIS jihadists and their families towards the Syrian Badia, a sparsely populated expanse of territory east of Damascus that extends to the border with Jordan and Iraq.

The Observatory said ISIS jihadists had torched their offices in Yarmouk prior to departing.

State media denied a withdrawal deal existed and reported that Syrian forces were fighting to finish off the insurgents in Yarmouk.

The forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and their allies have been battling to recover Yarmouk since defeating rebels in eastern Ghouta, also near the capital, in April.

While Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, has vowed to win back “every inch” of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a more complicated time ahead, Reuters reported.

The U.S. 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 the Kurdish groups, carving out a buffer zone where anti-Assad rebels have regrouped, the report said.

In the southwest, where rebels hold territory at the Israeli and Jordanian border, Assad faces the risk of conflict with Israel, which has vowed not to allow a permanent Iranian presence in Syria.

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