DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:40 P.M.) – For weeks, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been building up their forces in the East Ghouta region, sending wave-after-wave of reinforcements to the Harasta Highway area as they prepare to launch their biggest offensive in rural Damascus.
Led by the 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard and the Palestine Liberation Army (Palestinian wing of the SAA), the Syrian Arab Army has surrounded the Harasta Highway that flows through the key East Ghouta towns of Douma and Harasta, leaving the Islamist rebels of Jaysh Al-Islam (Army of Islam) with two choices: surrender or fight.
Jaysh Al-Islam has repeatedly tried to alleviate the pressure on their primary stronghold in the East Ghouta, Douma, by launching several assaults; however, their short-lived offensives fail to regain territory and stop the Syrian Arab Army’s onslaught.
With added pressure from Douma’s civilian population, Jaysh Al-Islam has sent village elders to negotiate with the Syrian government in order to work out a possible reconciliation agreement that would end the hostilities.
Thus far, these discussions between the government and village elders have not been successful, due in large part to Jaysh Al-Islam’s unwillingness to leave the area.
In the coming weeks, the Syrian Arab Army is expected to begin this offensive to reopen the Harasta Highway and end the Islamist presence in the East Ghouta.