Syrian military declares capital free of militants

Syrian military declares capital free of militants
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The Syrian military announced on Monday that Damascus and its surroundings are now “completely safe” after it retook the last neighborhoods in the southern part of the capital held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), The Associated Press reported.

Syrian Gen. Ali Mayhoub said in a TV broadcast that the army had captured ISIS strongholds in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp, a Damascus district populated by Palestinian refugees, and Hajar al-Aswad, a city two miles south from the center of Damascus, according to Reuters.

“Damascus and its surroundings are completely secure,” Mayhoub said on Syrian state television, according to the AP.

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The military gains bring Damascus and its surrounding suburbs fully under government control for the first time since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

The announcement comes after fighting in the south of the capital resumed on Monday following a reported ceasefire on Sunday night to evacuate women, children and elderly people from Hajar al-Aswad, the AP reported.

Some ISIS fighters were also allowed to leave the Palestinian Yarmouk camp, according to the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian state media denied that a deal was made to evacuate fighters, the AP reported.

Officials said the ceasefire ended at noon on Monday, according to the AP.