Takfiri Militants Pull Out of Their Last Stronghold in Central Syria
Takfiri Militants Pull Out of Their Last Stronghold in Central Syria
Regime retakes full control of central Syria as rebels evacuate
17 May, 2018, 20:59
The withdrawal may also be the last in a series of agreed evacuations used by the government to defeat the Takfiri insurgents by forcing them to surrender territory in return for safe passage to opposition areas in the north.
The remaining fighters started to withdraw from the last rebel-held enclave in central Syria on Wednesday, state television reported, sealing the government's control over the area and opening a major stretch of the country's most important highway.
Since the enclave straddled Syria's main north-south highway in the stretch between Hama and Homs, recapturing it will significantly ease communication lines in government areas.
More than 30,000 have left northern Homs and southern Hama in the last few days alone, while the majority of the displaced came from the eastern Ghouta suburbs near Damascus.
The UK-based observatory said that some 34,500 people, militants and their families, left the area as part of the deal.
Security forces began deploying in the evacuated towns and villages Tuesday, completing their deployment by raising the flag in Rastan, one of the largest towns in northern rural Homs, and a stronghold for the Syrian opposition for years. After joining the Syrian conflict, Russia's top steel to win the supporters of Bashar al-Assad.
Following Tuesday's advance, the adjoining Yarmouk Palestinian camp and the nearby al-Tadamon neighborhood are the only areas south of Damascus still under militant control.
This suggests the southern province, which is protected by a US -backed de-escalation zone agreement, may be the next battleground in the Syrian conflict.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian warships will remain on a permanent patrol to react to possible threats emanating from the Syrian civil war.
On Wednesday, Syrian state TV said two people were killed and 19 wounded when a shell fired by "terrorist groups" fell in the city center.
A Syrian family rides on a motorcycle in the town of Talbiseh in the central Homs province on May 16, 2018, after government forces took control of it as militants and their relatives were evacuated.
They have yet to seize back a small pocket still controlled by Daesh in southern Damascus, as well as a large part of the southern Daraa province and much of Idlib, in the northwest.
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