The Syrian army has begun shelling a jihadist enclave south of Damascus in preparation for an operation to retake the area, a commander in a pro-Damascus regional military alliance says.
The commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the operation would target the Islamic State and the Nusra Front groups in Yarmouk Camp and the adjoining al-Hajar al-Aswad area.
The area is much smaller than the eastern Ghouta region that Syrian government forces recently recovered in a Russian-backed offensive. The commander said preparatory shelling of the jihadist enclave had started on Tuesday morning.
The government is also set to recover another rebel enclave south of Damascus around the town of Beit Sahm, the commander said, though this would happen through an agreement with the government by which fighters would leave for Idlib.
"The lists of militants who will go on the buses towards Idlib are being gathered," the commander said.
Idlib is a rebel-held territory at the border with Turkey.
Recovering the Yarmouk camp and neighbouring areas located south of Damascus would give President Bashar al-Assad complete control over Syria's capital, further consolidating his grip on power.
Yarmouk, Syria's biggest camp for Palestinian refugees since the mid-20th century, has been under the control of Islamic State fighters for several years. Although the vast majority of residents have fled, the United Nations says thousands remain.
Assad has benefited from Russian air power since 2015 to regain large swathes of Syria, putting him in his strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old war.
The war has killed more than 500,000 people and has drawn in regional and global powers. The US, Britain and France launched their first co-ordinated strikes against Assad's government on Saturday in retaliation for what they say was a poison gas attack on April 7 that killed scores of residents in Douma, the last town in the eastern Ghouta to fall.