Air strikes struck an opposition-held area near Damascus

SYRIA (OBSERVATORY) – Air strikes struck an opposition-held area near Damascus on Sunday as government forces stepped up efforts to crush the last militant stronghold near the capital, state television showed.

Live footage showed the thick plumes of smoke from the Black Stone neighborhood as the buzzing of the aircraft circled overhead.

The area is part of a pocket just south of Damascus, which houses the Yarmouk refugee camp and is controlled by militants from the Islamic state and Nasra.

It is adjacent to a pocket controlled by other opposition groups fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.

President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, is trying to crush the last pockets of opposition after defeating opposition militants in the eastern Gauta, their last stronghold near the capital.

Opposition fighters began on Sunday to withdraw from a pocket they controlled northeast of Damascus in eastern Kalamoon under a surrender deal with the government. They are being transferred to an opposition-controlled area on the border with Turkey.

With the restoration of the eastern penileum and the enclave south of Damascus, only one besieged enclave north of the city of Homs remains, but large parts of Syrian territory on the border with Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Iraq remain outside Assad’s control.

Opponents control land in the south-west and northwest of the country and US-backed Kurdish fighters control territory in northern and eastern Syria.