A Syrian government tank drives down a street in Al Hajar al Aswad, on April 23, 2018, during a regime offensive targeting the Islamic State group in the southern districts of Damascus. AFP / STRINGER
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Syrian government forces moved to cut off Daesh (ISIS) militants in southern Damascus from nearby rebel-held suburbs Monday in an attempt to force the extremists to surrender or evacuate the district, state media reported. The area in southern Damascus is the last part of the capital not controlled by President Bashar Assad's forces. Daesh agreed to give up its last pocket of Damascus Friday but has yet to begin surrendering to government forces and relocating to Daesh-held areas elsewhere in the country.The offensive in southern Damascus coincides with preparations by rebels to evacuate towns in the Qalamoun region, east of the capital, following an agreement that allows them to relocate to opposition-held areas in northern Syria.The recapture by government forces of areas in southern Damascus and the Qalamoun region would give Assad control of the entire area around Damascus and the country's center, extending all the way up to Homs, for the first time in years.
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