Syrian forces gain ground in militant-held Damascus district

Syrian troops have advanced against Takfiri militants in a southern Damascus neighborhood as they press ahead with a counter-terrorism military campaign in the region.
Syria's official SANA news agency reported that the army had wrested control of networks of tunnels and blocks of buildings in the al-Hajar al-Aswad district on Thursday.
During the operation, the report said, dozens of terrorists were killed and their weapons and equipment were destroyed.
Syrian forces have been carrying out complicated operations to dismantle and cut off the supply and communication lines between terrorists in the Damascus suburban area, the report added.
SANA further noted that the Syrian army's campaign will continue until the liberation of all southern Damascus neighborhoods from the grip of terrorist groups.
Syrian forces arrive at the Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus on April 3, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Over the past few months, Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against anti-Damascus militants who have lately increased their acts of violence across the country following a series of defeats on the ground.
On Wednesday, they managed to retake the Eastern Qalamoun region northeast of Damascus.
The Eastern Qalamoun liberation came after the withdrawal of terrorists with their families under an agreement with the Syrian government. 
Earlier this month, Syrian forces recaptured the key militant bastion of Eastern Ghouta east of Damascus. For years, the region had served as a launch pad for deadly terror attacks against civilians in the Syrian capital.
Dire humanitarian situation in Raqqah
Separately on Wednesday, a UN official expressed concerns over the humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Raqqah, which was liberated from the Daesh terrorist group last October.
People walk past damaged buildings in Raqqah, Syria, April 18, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)
UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller told a Security Council session that 70-80 percent of Raqqah buildings have been destroyed and up to 95 percent of the households who have returned to the city are food insecure.
"On April 1 the UN undertook an assessment mission to Raqqah. Since ISIL (Daesh) was forced out of Raqqah in October, nearly 100,000 people have returned to Raqqah city. However, conditions are not conducive for returns, due to the high levels of unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive device contamination, widespread and severe infrastructural damage, and a lack of basic services," she said.
"Every week, there have been over 50 casualties reported due to remnants of war. An estimated 70-80 percent of all buildings inside Raqqah city are destroyed or damaged," she added.
Syria's Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari said recently that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed Raqqah under the pretext of fighting Daesh terrorists.



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