Syria regime forces clash with IS in south Damascus

Syrian government forces appear to be close to retaking Yarmouk that was once home to 200,00 Palestinians

"An agreement reached between the Syrian government and terrorist groups in southern Damascus, in the areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem", reported the agency, using its term for all rebels.

Syrian regime airstrikes and shelling killed 17 civilians including seven children Friday in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in southern Damascus, a Britain-based activist group said.

The monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said it had gained control of several buildings in the densely built-up area.

"Yarmouk was a refugee camp that had already been transformed into a death camp, and even in that state it has just experienced a week of really intense fighting", said Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), the agency for Palestinian refugees.

The entire capital will be free of rebels and the military operation is expected to move towards the southern province of Daraa, which is around 100 km from Damascus.

In the years that followed, most of its 160,000 residents fled to other parts of Syria or to neighbouring countries.

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UNRWA's Commissioner-General‎ ‎Pierre Krahenbuhl in a press release said that Palestinian refugees at Yarmouk have painfully suffered over the long years of conflict, and expressed his concern about the fate of thousands of civilians, including Palestinian refugees, after more than a week of dramatically increasing violence, Palestine News Agency (WAFA) reported.

He also wondered why so few reporters seem to care about what's going on in Yarmouk and suggested that it was "because the Palestinians who are being maimed and murdered in Syria are the victims of an Arab army - nothing to do with Israel".

IS has held parts of Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk since 2015 and seized Qadam last month.

Syrian forces allegedly used chemical weapons during a seven-week standoff that resulted in an evacuation deal between Russian Federation and Jaish al-Islam, the last armed opposition group to have remained in Eastern Ghouta - which was under rebel-control since 2012. 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.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of a humanitarian disaster in the city.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011 with a deadly crackdown on anti-government protests.

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