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Syrian army retakes villages from US-backed militants in Dayr al-Zawr

Syrian soldiers stand in a street in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, April 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Syrian army troops have managed to liberate a string of villages from the clutches of the US-backed militants of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the eastern parts of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq, where the Kurdish-led forces are in control, reports say.

Syrian state television, citing military sources, reported that units of army troops freed a number of villages, including al-Janinah, al-Jee’ah, Shamr al-Hesan and Havighe al-Maishiyah, from the grip of the SDF militant group in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, near the Iraqi border, on Sunday.

The Kurdish-dominated SDF is composed largely of militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), an anti-Damascus outfit regarded by Turkey as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The SDF militants, mainly active in the eastern part of the Euphrates River, are purportedly fighting against the remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which has already been driven out of all its urban bastions both in Iraq and Syria. However, Damascus regards them as unwelcome armed forces occupying parts of Syrian territory without the consent of the central government.

Syrian govt., militants reach evacuation deal in southern Damascus

Additionally on Sunday, the Syrian government and militants holed up in the capital’s southern suburbs, including the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk, reached an evacuation deal, according to which members of terror outfits are allowed to either hand over their weapons and ammunition to army troops and remain in the areas or leave with their families.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported that an agreement had been reached between the Syrian government and terrorist groups "in southern Damascus, in the areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem."

The evacuation accord is the latest in a string of such agreements that have seen the Syrian government retake areas near Damascus after the withdrawal of militants.

During the past few days, the Syrian army has recaptured large parts of the district of Qadam on Yarmuk's western flank.

Earlier this month, Syrian forces managed to retake Eastern Ghouta and Eastern Qalamoun regions near the capital. For years, the areas had served as a launch pad for deadly terror attacks against civilians in Damascus.

Takfiri militants have lost much of the territory they once held in Syria amid sweeping gains by government forces on the ground.

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