March 12, 2018 - 16:58 AMT
Syrian army takes two-thirds of militant-held areas in east Damascus

Two weeks after the Syrian army kicked off its operation to clear armed rebel groups from Damascus’ East Ghouta region, government forces have seized about two-thirds (conservative estimates say 60 percent) of all areas controlled by militant factions prior to the offensive, Al-Masdar News says.

In this process, the Syrian Army split the once mighty and seemingly impregnable insurgent pocket east of the country’s capital into three isolated areas under the control of different groups.

"The city of Douma, under the control of Jaysh al-Islam, is currently witnessing Russian-brokered talks aimed at encouraging rebels evacuate to other parts of Syria (either Daraa or northern Aleppo) and organizing the release of hostages among which there are captured Syrian troops and civilians," the news agency says.

"At Harasta, under the control of Ahrar al-Sham, Syrian Army negotiation authorities are in talks with the community’s elders to organize the evacuation of jihadist militants from the town.

"In the southern East Ghouta pocket area, the Syrian Army has, following the very recent seizure of Aftris, ceased operations for the time being to allow for the safe withdrawal of civilians and surrendering insurgent fighters into the custody of government forces."