Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Regime Gains in Damascus, Syria: March 12 - 26, 2018

By Christopher Kozak

Pro-Bashar al-Assad regime forces, including Russia and Iran, forced the reconciliation and evacuation of two of the three opposition-held pockets in the besieged Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Syria’s capital, Damascus. Salafi-Jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham fully evacuated the town of Harasta under a deal brokered by Russia. Activists reported that roughly 4,500 local residents, including more than 1,400 fighters, ultimately departed Harasta for Idlib Province on March 22 – 23. Islamist group Faylaq al-Rahman agreed to a similar evacuation deal in Irbeen, Zamalka, Ayn Tarma, and Jobar in Eastern Ghouta on March 23. Activists reported the departure of at least 13,100 local residents on March 24 - 26. Salafi-Jihadist group Jaysh al-Islam – the last remaining opposition powerbroker in the region - is meanwhile negotiating its own surrender and disarmament in its stronghold of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. Assad will soon claim a near total victory in Damascus.