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Ceasefire in Syria after south Damascus battles

Ceasefire in Syria after south Damascus battles

Syria's military says the country's capital and surrounding areas are free from militants for the first time in almost seven years.

In the east of Syria, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by US-French artillery shelling, advanced on ISIS militants in the last pocket controlled by extremists in Deir Ezzor province.

The General Command for the Syrian Army made a televised statement Monday, declaring the full seizure of Yarmouk Camp and Al-Hajr al-Aswad neighborhoods, which puts the area surrounding Damascus and its countryside under Syrian government control.

A temporary humanitarian ceasefire had been in place since Sunday night in al-Hajar al-Aswad to allow women, children and old people to leave the area, state media said early on Monday (local time).

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Syria's state media denied a deal was reached to evacuate fighters.

Officials said the ceasefire ended at noon on Monday, according to the AP.

The significance of this achievement emanates from the defeat of the most "vicious terrorist group" and proves that the Syrian army has become more powerful and determined to eliminate the terrorist groups in other Syrian areas. The channel's area correspondent said the coming hours would be "decisive" for restoring government control in Hajar al-Aswad, but didn't mention Yarmouk.

Pro-Syrian Government forces have been battling for weeks to recover al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp from Islamic State since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April.

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BBC Arab affairs analyst Sebastian Usher says the price of victory in Damascus for President Assad, as nearly everywhere else in Syria, has been high - in death, destruction and displacement.

The Islamic State has previously exploited the sparsely populated Badia region to move supplies and launch attacks in Syria's south and south east.

A military source close to the regime said the deal had been reached through negotiations with the government and its ally Russian Federation.

One spokesman for a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel faction in the Badia told Syria Direct on Monday that his forces had monitored the arrival of buses allegedly carrying Islamic State members. In his first major foreign policy speech since taking the post as the top USA diplomat, he issued a list of demands that he said should be included in any new nuclear treaty with Iran, including that it "withdraw all forces" from Syria, halt support for Hezbollah and stop threatening Israel.

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Putin told Assad during a meeting Thursday that a political settlement in Syria should encourage foreign countries to pull out their troops from Syria.

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