Dozens of casualties as Islamic State fighters clash with Syrian troops

Dozens of casualties as Islamic State fighters clash with Syrian troops
File image of damage in Damascus.

Fighting between Syrian troops and Islamic State fighters in southern neighbourhoods of Damascus has left dozens of people dead or wounded, according to a war monitor and Syrian state media.

The clashes came as government forces pressed their offensive to capture the last parts of the capital not in state control.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a government bombardment killed 17 people, including seven children and two women in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, mostly controlled by IS.

Syrian state media reported that IS shelling of the government-held neighbourhood of Qadam killed two children and wounded eight others.

State news agency Sana said government forces and their allies pushed deeper into the nearby Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood that is controlled by IS.

Sana added that the army offensive aims to "completely eradicate the terrorists from south Damascus".

The week-long fighting in Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Yarmouk camp has killed dozens of fighters on both sides.

The area is the last district out of government control in Damascus and its capture would boost security in President Bashar Assad's seat of power.

State TV reported that Syrian planes struck an IS arms depot in the area, setting off explosions. IS claimed in a statement that its fighters killed 20 soldiers in the area.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned of "catastrophic consequences of the severe escalation" of fighting affecting the Yarmouk refugee camp and surrounding areas.

The hostilities have caused deaths and injuries and displaced around 5,000 civilians from Yarmouk into neighbouring Yalda, of which 3,500 are Palestinian refugees, UNRWA said.

- PA

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