Syrian Forces Retake Town After Rebels Depart

Pro government forces check tunnels used by the rebels over the past years during the siege in the recently conquered area of Jobar in Eastern Ghouta

Pro government forces check tunnels used by the rebels over the past years during the siege in the recently conquered area of Jobar in Eastern Ghouta

The daily further said, Syrian forces have for days been launching air strikes on the area controlled by Daesh (IS) in the south of Damascus, primarily around the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp and its surrounding areas.

Worldwide inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who arrived in Damascus almost a week ago were still waiting early on Friday to visit the site of the suspected poison gas attack.

The liberation of Yarmouk district would give the Syrian government full control over Damascus for the first time since 2012.

Government forces have made sweeping gains in Damascus in recent months, with Syrian Army troops liberating the entire East Ghouta regain via operation Damascus Steel. Insurgents in another enclave nearby - Eastern Qalamoun - said they had also agreed to withdraw.

Douma was the last militant stronghold in the Eastern Ghouta region, which for years served as a launch pad for deadly terror attacks against civilians in the Syrian capital.

The Syrian government stepped up its efforts on Thursday to retake the opposition's last besieged enclaves, as rebels prepared to withdraw from one and a newspaper reported an ultimatum against another.

Western countries say Moscow and Damascus are preventing the inspectors from reaching the site and may be destroying evidence. Russian Federation and Assad's government deny this.

The pro-government commander said the army had prepared for military action in the Eastern Qalamoun, but that Russian Federation was working on securing the rebels' withdrawal without a battle.

The built-up residential area on the southern edge of Damascus was once home to some 200,000 Palestinians, mainly refugees from the 1948 war with Israel and their descendants - as well as tens of thousands of middle-class Syrians.

Referring to the latest evacuations, the United Nations said in a note it expected further displacements soon to northern Syria. The commander said preparatory shelling of the jihadist enclave had started on Tuesday morning. On Thursday neighbouring Iraq carried out air strikes against the jihadist group in Syria in coordination with Damascus, the Iraqi military said.

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