Syria regime advances against IS in south Damascus

Soldiers near Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in south Damascus

The Syrian army and its allies engaged in a fierce battle on Saturday with ISIS fighters in an enclave south of Damascus held by the militant group.

An estimated 3,500 Palestinians have fled the embattled Yarmouk refugee camp during a week of violence, according to the United Nations, as the Syrian government escalates its ongoing military operation in southern Damascus.

The army closed in on a key bastion of the terror-designated group in the area of the capital, state news agency SANA reported.

With the latest round of fighting, the number of Palestinian refugees left in Yarmouk camp could have sunk to "just a few hundred", Gunness said.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned of "catastrophic consequences of the severe escalation" of fighting affecting the Yarmouk refugee camp and surrounding areas.

The army fully captured the neighborhoods of al-Qadam, Mazniyeh, Asali, and Jourah, from IS around the Hajar al-Aswad and the Yarmouk Camp areas in south of the capital, said the report. Numerous civilians, both Palestinian refugees and Syrian locals, are now sleeping in the streets after being displaced from their homes. "Their suffering is unimaginable".

It also called for immediate opening of a safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the camp and neighbouring areas and to evacuate the sick, wounded and elderly people from the camp.

Recall that the militants seized the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk at the end of March 2015.

ISIS lost most of its territory in Syria a year ago in the face of two rapid offensives, one by the Syrian army backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and the other by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by the United States.

"The movement appeals to all parties not to involve the Palestinian people in the refugee camps in Syria in any of the events taking place there" said Abdel Latif Al-Qanoua, a Hamas spokesman.

Residents of that camp have endured frequent clashes, a lack of basic humanitarian services and periodic water cuts, some lasting for up to 1,475 days, according to the Action Group.

Seven children are reportedly among the dead.

In January, US President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw funding for UNRWA if Palestinians did not return to negotiations with Israel.



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