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Deal reached to evacuate Syria's Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp - state media

Deal reached to evacuate Syria's Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp - state media”

Opposition sources, cited by Reuters, claimed that the army was engaged in fighting with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Yarmouk camp, where up to 2,000 militants are encircled.

SANA said regime forces continued advancing in Hajar al-Aswad.

The announcement comes more than a week into a regime assault to oust Islamic State (IS) group fighters from the capital's southern suburbs, including the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk.

Bombardments come as Syrian government forces continue to push rebel groups from last strongholds near Damascus.

The Syrian army reached a deal with opposition fighters to evacuate the areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem, near the site of a government offensive against militants, south of Damascus on Sunday.

The deal gave fighters the choice between leaving the area with their families or handing over their weapons and staying, SANA said.

The reported deal is the latest in a series of such agreements that have seen the Assad regime retake areas near the capital.

Such a deal around Yalda could allow the regime to deploy forces on the eastern edges of Yarmuk after other units advanced towards the camp from the west, a Britain-based war monitor said.

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said it was "deeply concerned" about the catastrophic consequences of the escalation of fighting and its impact on the fate of thousands of Palestinian refugees in and around Yarmouk refugee camp, near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The camp houses a large population of Palestinian refugees in Syria, but it has been inhabited by both Palestinians and Syrians.

The Syrian army has been on a crushing offensive on the Yarmouk Camp and the adjacent Hajar al-Aswad area to drive out IS militants, after the terror-designated group rejected a deal to evacuate these areas earlier this month.

Yarmuk and the surroundings are now IS's largest urban redoubt in Syria or neighbouring Iraq.

At least 85 regime personnel and 74 IS fighters have been killed in ten days of fighting in southern Damascus, the monitor said.

At least 36 civilians have been killed in regime bombardment during the same period, it said.

Following its brutal, successful battles for control of Eastern Ghouta, the Assad regime, which is backed by Iran and Russian Federation, has turned its attention to the last enclave bordering Damascus still held by rebels.

Before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Yarmouk was home to around 160,000 Palestinian refugees - people who had been displaced from their homes in modern-day Israel during the 1948 war, and their descendants.



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