Battling opposition, ISIL moves closer to central Damascus

Human rights monitoring group says ISIL is the closest that it has ever been to the heart of Damascus

Battling opposition, ISIL moves closer to central Damascus

World Bulletin / News Desk

ISIL battled Syrian opposition forces in a Damascus neighbourhood on Monday, bringing the armed group closer than ever to the centre of the capital, a monitoring group said. 

ISIL fought street battles against opposition in Asali, part of the capital's southern Qadam district, after seizing two streets there over the weekend, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"This is the closest ISIL has ever been to the heart of Damascus," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

He said the armed group had advanced from the adjacent Al-Hajar Al-Aswad neighbourhood, where they have been based since July 2014. 

A Syrian military official confirmed the clashes and said he was "very happy that they are fighting."

"But we are ready to react if they try to advance into government-held territory," the official said.

According to the Observatory, opposition-held Qadam has been relatively quiet since a truce between rebel groups and regime forces there a year ago. 

It said fighting in the district on Sunday left 15 fighters dead, but it could not specify how many were from ISIL and how many were the opposition. 

Abdel Rahman said the "fierce street battles" had forced civilians to flee the area. 

Since its expulsion from the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus last year, ISIL has used Al-Hajar Al-Aswad as a base for attacks on the capital.

From there, it tried to seize the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in April, but was pushed back. 

That same month, ISIL kidnapped two opposition fighters from Qadam and beheaded them in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad. 

More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which began with popular anti-government protests in March 2011 but has evolved into a complex civil war.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Ağustos 2015, 12:41