(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
The Syrian government forces on Monday announced that the last extremist stronghold in southern Damascus, the al-Hajar al-Aswad District, has been recaptured, marking the military's complete control over Damascus and its suburb areas after seven years of fighting.
The al-Hajar al-Aswad District is seven kilometers to downtown Damascus. The government troops on April 19 began its military operation to take back the district, along with the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp which were occupied by extremists, using airstrikes and intensive cannon and rocket strikes.
Earlier in the day, The Syrian government denied reports that the government forces observed a brief ceasefire with extremists on Sunday.
It stated that the government forces only implemented a short-term moratorium so that women, children, and the elderly could withdraw, and resumed cleanup operations on the afternoon of Monday, eventually ending the extremists' presence in the capital and its surrounding areas.
"In the last period (of the operation), we surrounded the local extremists, and the encirclement became very small as we are closing in. The combat with extremists became very short-ranged, and we eventually neutralized them," said Colonel Ahmad Ezzeldin.
The recapture of al-Hajar al-Aswad District marks the complete liberation of Damascus since 2011. The government forces will continue to sweep houses and tunnels for hidden suicide attackers and snipers next.
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