Syrian army retakes most of rebel-held Damascus district, discovers tunnels

The Syrian army say they are on the verge of retaking the rebel-geld area of Qaboun on the outskirts of Damascus after a two month battle.

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (REUTERS) - The Syrian army and its allies are on the verge of completely seizing the rebel-held district of Qaboun on the edge of the capital Damascus following over two months of aerial strikes and artillery shelling, rebels and state media said on Sunday (May 14).

But rebels said they still held a small pocket within the neighbourhood that lies in the northeastern edge of the capital that has been mostly reduced to rubble after around 80 days in which it was struck by hundreds of aerial strikes and missiles.

The army had resumed its intensive bombardment in the district on Wednesday (May 10) after a one-day ultimatum it gave the rebels mainly drawn from the area to surrender and agree to evacuate to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

Hundreds of rebels and their families had been evacuated this week from the adjacent Barzeh district after rebels there decided to lay down their arms and leave to rebel-held Idlib province. They included some from Qaboun.

Video footage from the Syrian military showed the extensive damage caused to Qaboun and the discovery of tunnels in the area.

Army advances were made possible after tunnels between Qaboun and Barzeh were cut and the army isolated the areas from the rest of the main rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta.