Syria regime forces clash with IS in south Damascus

Smoke rises after Assad regime forces carry out airstrikes over the Daesh-controlled part of Yarmouk refugee camp where Palestinian refugees take shelter on the outskirts of Syrias capital Damascus

The strikes on Sunday are part of a campaign to retake the last rebel-held towns on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, which has seen a dramatic increase of violence over the last weeks.

Local sources said Wednesday that about 20 civilians have been killed by the Syrian regime bombing against Yarmouk refugee camp, which is mostly controlled by Daesh.

State news agency SANA said army units "are advancing on several axes in the neighbourhoods of Qadam and Mazaniyeh and extending their control over a number of buildings".

Fighters from Isil entered the area in 2015 and quickly defeated other rebel factions, subjecting the remaining residents to a brutal rule similar to that in Raqqa and other areas controlled by the jihadist group. "We are deeply concerned about the fate of thousands of civilians, including Palestine refugees, after more than a week of dramatically increased violence", a statement by the United Nations agency quoted UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl as saying.

Christopher Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said the plight of remaining civilians had worsened: "Many are sleeping in the streets, begging for medicine".

"Yarmouk and its inhabitants have endured indescribable pain and suffering over years of conflict". The Syrian military placed the camp and the surrounding area under siege. At least 180 civilians have died of hunger in 2014, while others suffered illnesses including salmonella poisoning, kidney failure and typhoid fever, according to activists and medics.

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IS lost most of its territory in Syria past year in the face of two rapid offensives, one by the Syrian army backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and the other by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by the United States.

SANA reported "an agreement reached between the Syrian government and terrorist groups in southern Damascus, in the areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem", using its usual term for all rebels.

The deal comes after the Syrian army regained control over the neighborhoods of al-Mazniyeh, al-Qadam, al-Asali and al-Joura.

Those rebels who have in the past fought both the militants and the Syrian army have also been targeted by the army in an attempt to force them to capitulate.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of a humanitarian disaster in the city.

Citing the London-based Action Group for Palestinians of Syria, Abu Toameh reported that "3,722 Palestinians (including 465 women) have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011".

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