The Assad regime has denied an agreement with the Islamic State for the jihadists to evacuate their positions south of Syria’s capital Damascus.
Citing a “military source”, State news agency SANA said there is no deal for ISIS to be able to leave al-Hajar al-Aswad and the Yarmouk camp.
Pro-Assad blogs, citing their own “military source”, declared that “dozens of buses” had entered both suburbs to take ISIS fighters to the Badiya region in eastern Syria.
Pro-Assad forces launched an offensive a month ago to remove the Islamic State from its last areas near Damascus, with regime outlets proclaiming that a victory will be achieved quickly. However, while the offensive has taken part of al-Hajar al-Aswad, it has faced stiff ISIS resistance and has struggled to make inroads in Yarmouk, home to more than 200,000 displaced Palestinians before the 2011 uprising.
Last week pro-Assad sites had proclaimed yet again that all of al-Hajar al-Aswad had been captured.
A pro-opposition activist posted on Sunday morning:
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) May 20, 2018
Rebels in nearby areas such as Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahm capitulated earlier this month to the regime, with forced removals of fighters and civilians to northern Syria and to Daraa Province in the south near the Jordanian border.
Rebels took control of Yarmouk and al-Hajar al-Aswad in 2012, with civilians enduring a regime siege that caused scores of deaths from starvation and lack of medical care. The Islamic State pushed out the rebels in early 2015.
Several thousand civilians, most of them displaced Palestinians, are estimated to remain in Yarmouk.
Apocalyptic images from the Palestinian Yarmouk camp south of Damascus after 5 years of Assad regime siege, 6 years of Assad regime air strikes & shelling. About 200 camp residents starved to death under the siege https://t.co/2Y1YFA4VCT pic.twitter.com/aZTuxPQGdI
— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) May 20, 2018