DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrian state media says government forces are pounding districts of southern Damascus held by Islamic State militants in a bid to enforce an evacuation deal reached earlier in the week.
Islamic State militants agreed to give up their last pocket in Damascus on Friday but have yet to surrender to government forces and begin evacuating.
The state-run Ikhbariya TV showed thick gray smoke billowing from the IS-held Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood Sunday, and government warplanes streaking overhead amid heavy bombardment of the area. Hundreds of IS fighters are holed up in Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Yarmouk camp in Damascus.
The military offensive is part of the Syrian government’s efforts to retake the entire capital and its surrounding areas for the first time since 2011.