Syria Government: Capital is under control


Associated Press

BEIRUT

Syria’s military on Monday captured an enclave in southern Damascus from Islamic State militants after a ruinous monthlong battle, bringing the entire capital and its far-flung suburbs under full government control for the first time since the civil war began in 2011.

The gains freed President Bashar Assad’s forces to move with allied militiamen on remaining rebel-held territory in the south near the border with Israel, as Syria’s chief ally Iran comes under growing pressure from the Trump administration to withdraw its troops from the country.

Iranian-backed militias, including the Lebanese group Hezbollah, have been instrumental in helping Assad’s overstretched forces recapture huge areas around Damascus and in the country’s center and north, building a military presence that has alarmed Israel and its U.S. ally, which is now looking to constrain Iran’s activities.

Iranian officials have vowed to stay on in Syria for as long as needed, setting the stage for a potential confrontation as Washington seeks to tighten the screws on Tehran after the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal brokered with Iran under President Barack Obama and world powers.

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