Syrian government forces take control over 90% of Eastern Ghouta
Syrian government forces have gained control over 90 percent of the Eastern Ghouta region as militants continue to leave their last major stronghold near the capital Damascus.
On Friday, the Syrian forces celebrated the departure of the last group of militants and their families from the town of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta, Reuters reported.
Following the Syrian forces’ sweeping advances in the area, the militants agreed to leave the area to the militant-held territory in the northwest in return for safe passage out.
In a second pocket around the towns of Arbin, Jobar, Zamalka and Ein Terma, nearly 7,000 Failaq al-Rahman militants and their families will also leave for the northwest on Saturday morning.
The group would also release captured government soldiers, Wael Alwan, spokesman for the Failaq al-Rahman group, said.
The city of Douma is the last militant stronghold in eastern Ghouta. Negotiations are currently underway for removing the militants from the city where heavy fighting still continues.
In recent days, thousands of people have fled Douma into government-held territories.
Full liberation of Eastern Ghouta will be considered the second biggest victory for the Syrian government after the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016.
Over the past few weeks, Syria and Russia have cornered foreign-backed militants in Eastern Ghouta as part of their campaign to liberate civilians holed up there and end militant attacks from the suburb on the capital.
The UN estimated that 400,000 people were trapped inside the besieged area without access to food or medicine and 50,000 others fled the area after the heavy military confrontations started in mid-February.
The month-long assault left the once sprawling militant enclave splintered into three shrinking pockets each held by a separate militant group.
Eastern Ghouta fell to militants in 2012, months after Syria plunged into crisis, and has since served as a launch pad for fatal mortar attacks against residents and infrastructure in the capital. The region is controlled by a collection of militant groups, most notably the Takfiri terror groups of Jaish al-Islam and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, commonly known as al-Nusra Front.