Syrian army captures key IS stronghold south of Damascus

Huang Panyue

The Syrian army on Monday fully wrested control over the Hajar al-Aswad area, a key Islamic State (IS) stronghold south of the capital Damascus, according to the state TV.

The recapture of Hajar al-Aswad follows a month-long offensive by the army to recapture some areas under IS control.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian state TV said a brief cease-fire went into force on Sunday afternoon until Monday noon for the evacuation of humanitarian cases from Hajar al-Aswad before the military operation continued in that area.

The state TV aired footages of the largely-devastated Hajar al-Aswad with Syrian soldiers firing celebratory gunshots while chanting for the Syrian army.

The battle in Hajar al-Aswad was complicated as that area is jam-packed with buildings that are so close to each other, making a ground offensive extremely difficult.

The Syrian warplanes have carried out intense airstrikes on Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Yarmouk Camp over the past month.

While Hajar al-Aswad is completely liberated, the report spelled no details about the situation in Yarmouk Camp.

The Syrian army has launched a massive assault on IS-held areas to completely secure Damascus, after dislodging the rebels in another countryside of the capital in recent months.

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