Beirut (AFP) – More than a dozen Syrian regime forces have been killed fighting the Islamic State group in a devastated southern district of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said Monday.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ramped up their ground operations and bombing raids against the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk in southern Damascus last Thursday.
Since then, 15 pro-Assad fighters have been killed as well as 19 IS jihadists, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based war monitor said the assault has also left 12 civilians dead, including women and children.
“Regime forces are continuing to bomb the southern parts of the capital with rockets, artillery, air strikes and helicopters,” the Observatory said.
Yarmuk was once a densely populated and thriving district of the capital, but it has been ravaged by violence since Syria’s conflict broke out in 2011.
Syria’s government imposed a crippling siege on it in 2012, and fighting has also broken out between rebels and rival jihadists.
In 2015, IS overran most of Yarmuk, and other rebels and jihadists, including from Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate, agreed to withdraw just a few weeks ago.
Simultaneously, the Syrian army was recapturing the last rebel pockets in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus that had been the opposition’s main bastion near the capital.
Troops last week shifted their attention to Yarmuk, but humanitarian organisations have sounded the alarm.
The UN’s Palestinian refugee agency said the bombardment has put the last operating hospital in Yarmuk out of service and displaced most of the camp’s 6,000 remaining civilians.