• Syria rebels expelling jihadists

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    DAMASCUS: Rebels have expelled jihadists from four areas in the Damascus region, after having lost territory to the Islamic State (IS) in the north and east of Syria, a monitoring group said on Monday.

    IS, meanwhile, has started selling Syrian oil to Iraqi businessmen, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    On the diplomatic front, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told his Russian counterpart he was certain of the regime’s “victory” in Syria’s civil war, thanks mainly to Moscow’s support.

    Despite being besieged by government troops, rebels have expelled the IS from four areas in the Damascus region in a drive launched three weeks ago, the Observatory and rebel sources said.

    The monitoring group said clashes were ongoing in other areas south of Damascus.

    IS was initially welcomed as a potential ally in the armed revolt, but the opposition, including Islamists, has turned against the radical group.

    The Observatory said IS fighters have been expelled from Mesraba and Maydaa, two towns in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus.

    They had also been forced out of Yalda and Beit Sahem.

    The expelled jihadists fled to Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Tadamon and Qadam in southern Damascus, “where they have a strong presence,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

    On Monday, fighting between rebels and jihadists broke out in the battered neighborhoods of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and Qadam, he told Agence France-Presse.

    A rebel spokesman in Damascus province confirmed the reports.

    “For us, there was no choice but to fight IS,” said Captain Abdel Rahman al-Shami, a spokesman for the rebel Army of Islam, spearheading the offensive in the Damascus area.

    AFP

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