BEIRUT (AP) — Fighting between Syrian troops and Islamic State group fighters in southern neighborhoods of the capital Damascus left dozens of people dead or wounded on Friday, according to a war monitor and Syrian state media, as government forces pressed their offensive to capture last parts of the city out of state control.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government bombardment killed 17 people, including seven children and two women in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk mostly controlled by IS.
Syrian state media reported that IS shelling of the government-held neighborhood of Qadam in Damascus killed two children and wounded eight others.
State news agency SANA said government forces and their allies pushed deeper into the nearby Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood that is controlled by IS.
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SANA added that the army offensive aims to “completely eradicate the terrorists from south Damascus.”
The weeklong fighting in Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Yarmouk camp has killed dozens of fighters on both sides. The area is the last district out of government control in Damascus and its capture would boost security in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.
State TV reported that Syrian warplanes struck an IS arms depot in the area, setting off explosions. IS claimed in a statement Friday that its fighters killed 20 soldiers in the area.
The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned of “catastrophic consequences of the severe escalation” of fighting affecting the Yarmouk refugee camp and surrounding areas.
The current hostilities have caused deaths and injuries and have displaced around 5,000 civilians from Yarmouk into neighboring Yalda, of which 3,500 are Palestine refugees, UNRWA said.