Syrian army, ISIS wage fierce battle in south Damascus

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had gained control of several buildings in the densely built-up area. (File photo: AFP)

The Syrian army and its allies engaged in a fierce battle on Saturday with ISIS fighters in an enclave south of Damascus held by the militant group.

Reuters witnesses, a war monitor and state television reported intense fighting including artillery bombardment and small arms fire.

The army had made broad advances, said state television. The monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said it had gained control of several buildings in the densely built-up area.

Footage on state TV showed tanks rolling across an open area of fields to the edge of the enclave, which includes parts of al-Qadam district, al-Hajar al-Aswad and the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp.

It showed uniformed soldiers moving through battered streets with dense clouds of black smoke overhead, while the whizz and crash of artillery fire, the rattle of small arms fire and deep echoing blasts could all be heard.

Lost territory

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

It has held onto some areas of desert in eastern Syria, as well as to the pocket in south Damascus and one other area by the borders with Jordan and Israel which is held by a group that has pledged allegiance to it.

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Last Update: 14:30 KSA 17:30 - GMT 14:30
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