The Latest: German government says Syria strikes were legal

The Latest on the Syria conflict (all times local):

4 p.m.

The German government says it stands by its view that the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria were legal, despite experts saying they breached international law.

German parliamentary researchers last week provided an 11-page opinion to lawmakers that questioned whether the alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces justified the attack by the United States, Britain and France.

Germany didn't participate in the April 14 strikes.

A spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday the German government "took note" of the parliamentary assessment but remains convinced the allied attack was "necessary and appropriate."

Ulrike Demmer said the airstrikes were intended to prevent further uses of chemical weapons by Syrian forces, which in themselves were a breach of international law.

Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington Friday.


12:45 p.m.

Syrian state media say government forces and their allies are pressing an offensive against members of the Islamic State group in southern Damascus.

State-run al-Ikhbariya TV says the aim of Monday's government push is to isolate IS in the southern Damascus neighborhood of Hajar Aswad from nearby areas held by the extremists.

Hundreds of IS militants hold parts of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and nearby Hajar al-Aswad in southern Damascus. The extremists agreed to give up their last pocket there on Friday but have yet to begin surrendering to government forces and relocating to IS-held areas elsewhere in the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, says 11 people have been killed in the offensive since the fighting began last Thursday.