This afternoon, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) officially entered Zabdeen and Deir al-Asafir, two highly important towns in the southern part of East Ghouta.
According to a military source in Damascus, a special forces unit of the SAA managed to sneak into the southern gates of Deir al-Asafir and ambush a rebel unit, thus taking 7 insurgents as prisoners without a single shot fired.
Subsequently, the Republican Guard was called in and fortified the position; this proved vital as they succesfully repelled a counter-offensive by Jaish al-Islam during the evening.
Nevertheless, the latter Islamist group is still in control of the majority of Deir al-Asafir.
Meanwhile, government troops also captured some building blocks in the western part of Zabdeen after a heavy firefight with rebel fighters.
Remarkably, another SAA attack was conducted east of the two aforementioned sites; near Hawsh Duwayr, government troops entered a rebel-made tunnel and killed 5 insurgents who were hiding there.
These events mark the rumbling of a full-scale government offensive which looks to capture all rebel-held areas in the southern pocket of East Ghouta.
Just yesterday, SAA soldiers also seized the nearby Rikabiyah Farms which in turn enabled the assault on Deir al-Asafir.
Over the next 48 hours, the SAA will likely attempt to fully capture Deir al-Asafir and Zabdeen as these towns have been cut off from receiving supplies for weeks, thereby demoralizing the rebel defenders and weakening their forces militarily.