Syrian soldiers are pictured in the town of Aftris, west of the militant-held town of Saqba, in Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, March 10, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Syrian troops have succeeded to cut off the largest town in Eastern Ghouta from the rest of the militant-held enclave, practically slicing the volatile eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus into three parts, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
The government “forces have therefore divided Eastern Ghouta into three parts, Douma and its surroundings, Harasta in the west, and the rest of the towns further south,” further said the UK-based group on Saturday, adding that army troops cut off the main highway that links northern Ghouta with its southern parts, isolating the town of Douma, the largest in the area.
Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Central Military Media reported that army soldiers captured Kilani gas station on the main highway linking Douma with Harasta and those two areas with the rest of Eastern Ghouta, further tightening the noose around terror groups inside the suburban region.
Last night, the first batch of foreign-backed militants, composed of 13 Nusra Front militants, along with their families, left Eastern Ghouta, a day after the government opened a second safe corridor out of the militant-held enclave near the capital.
Militant groups active inside the enclave, particularly the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri outfit and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, are still trying to prevent civilians from leaving the enclave as they constantly target the safe passages of al-Wafideen and Jisreen with shells and explosive bullets.
Terrorists killed mother and her children
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported on Saturday that Nusra Front terrorists opened fire on families while they were trying to exit Jisreen town toward the safe corridor which leads to al-Malihah, killing a mother and her three children.
Last week, army troops secured a safe corridor set up for evacuation of civilians via al-Wafideen checkpoint, through which a UN aid convoy, consisting of 46 truckloads of health, food and nutrition supplies, crossed into Eastern Ghouta and headed for the main town of Douma.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a 15-truck aid convoy also crossed into the militant-held enclave through the al-Wafideen checkpoint on Friday.
Despite two weeks of intense fighting with government troops, the main militant groups active in the enclave have so far rejected Russian-brokered offers to evacuate desperate civilians. Russia has designated four safe passage routes in Eastern Ghouta after a ceasefire was declared across Syria by the UN Security Council.
Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus with some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, as Takfiri terrorist outfits have launched mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat, killing around 20 civilians in two weeks.
The Syrian army is making steady advances in the enclave, but it is facing a hostile West, which is threatening airstrikes to stop the push. President Bashar al-Assad vowed last week that Syrian forces would continue the campaign until the whole area is retaken.