BEIRUT: Syrian regime air strikes and shelling killed 17 civilians including seven children on Friday in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk in southern Damascus, a Britain-based monitor said.
Regime forces have pounded southern districts of the capital since April 19 to try, as they claimed to expel Daesh group from the area, after the militants refused to leave under an evacuation deal.
That bombardment intensified on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said, as regime forces advanced against Daesh inside the districts.
“Army units backed by the air force and artillery have advanced on numerous axes” in southern Damascus, including the district of Hajjar Al-Aswad, “after breaking through terrorist defenses,” state news agency said.
The advance “inflicted great human and material losses” on the militants, it said.
Syrian state television said the army has seized control of buildings and a “network of trenches and tunnels” from Daesh in Hajjar Al-Aswad.
In the adjacent neighborhood of Qadam, two children were killed in “mortar rounds fired by terrorist groups,” it said.
The Observatory said pro-government forces took control of “buildings and streets in Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam after attacking the districts at dawn.”
Regime forces were locked in violent clashes with Daesh fighters on Friday morning, the monitor said.
Heavy air strikes and shelling had targeted Yarmuk and the edges of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam since the early morning.
IS has held parts of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Yarmuk since 2015 and seized Qadam last month.
At least 74 regime personnel and 59 Daesh fighters have been killed in eight days of fighting in southern Damascus, the monitor said.
The latest civilian deaths bring to 36 the number of non-fighters killed in regime bombardment in that same period, it said.
Yarmuk and the surroundings are now Daesh’s largest urban redoubt in Syria or neighboring Iraq.