Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Syrian army bombards Yarmouk camp: Observatory

Syrian army bombards Yarmouk camp: Observatory

Hundreds of Syrian rebels in a town northeast of Damascus handed in their weapons and boarded buses to leave under an evacuation deal, state media reported on Thursday.

Yarmouk, about 8 km from central Damascus, was home to Syria's largest Palestinian refugee community before the Syrian war began in 2011.

SANA said 1,500 rebels and 3,500 members of their families are expected to withdraw from Dumair, where about 100,000 people live.

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.

The IS entered those areas in 2015 and the military operation started after the army completely secured the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus, with the last rebel batch left their last strongholds in the Douma district a week ago.

There have been several handovers by rebels to the government in the capital region following a punishing government offensive against the rebellious eastern Ghouta region earlier this year.

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The inspectors have delayed their visit to Douma after their security team were shot at during a reconnaissance trip on Tuesday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said. The three countries said they held the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation responsible. A United Nations spokesman said discussions were taking place in Damascus with all key parties on security arrangements for inspectors to visit the site of the suspected chemical attack in Douma.

Western countries say Moscow and Damascus are preventing the inspectors from reaching the site and may be destroying evidence.

Associated Press journalists spoke to witnesses who said they were overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine and experienced fainting during an April 7 assault.

Also on Thursday, neighboring Iraq launched airstrikes inside Syria targeting militants from the Islamic State group.

A war monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there were also talks under way between Russian Federation and rebels for the insurgents to withdraw from an enclave in central Syria around the town of Rastan.

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