Syrian Army Retakes Complete Control Over Damascus From ISIS

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| May 22 , 2018 , 11:28 IST

Marking a major milestone in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, Syria's army on Monday declared that it is in complete control of Damascus and its outskirts after a devastating battle which forced ISIS jihadists to flee from their last pocket of resistance in the capital.

"The Syrian army announces that Damascus, its outskirts and surrounding towns are completely secure," the Army said in a statement on official media on Monday.

"The wheel of our progress on the battlefield will not stop until all Syrian land is purified," the statement said.

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Lieutenant Mohsen Ismail expressed happiness to AFP at the victory.

"This was the last battle in Damascus. I'm extremely happy. Damascus will go back to the way it was. We'll forget the days of shelling and blood -- this victory will help us forget it all," he said.

President Bashar al-Assad has been using a combination of military pressure and negotiated withdrawals over the recent months to steadily flush militants out of the territory around Damascus.

However, a small ISIS holdout remained the in the south of Damascus for which Syrian troops and allied Palestinian militia launched an offensive last month.

ISIS had taken over Damascus in 2015, reducing the 160,000-strong population to just several hundred.