Loyalist forces gain control of Saqba, Kafr Batna, and Jisreen, and intensify bombing on Douma, Eastern Ghouta
Syria - SMART
Local and field news:
In Eastern Ghouta, the loyalist forces seized the city of Saqba and the towns of Kafr Batna and Jisreen, 9 kilometers east of Damascus, Rif Dimashq governorate.
A local activist reported that the loyalist forces seized the areas after the al-Rahman Legion and armed locals withdrew from the city and two towns. The activists added that a delegation of important political figures in Douma headed to the government-controlled town of al-Aftaris, while assuring the civilians in Douma that the government will keep them safe.
The al-Rahman Legion, which is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said that they have not yet negotiated with the United Nations about exiting Eastern Ghouta.
Wael Alwan, the spokesman of the al-Rahman Legion, said that they wish to communicate directly with the U.N. to implement the requirements of the U.N. Security Council resolution 2401 and other related U.N. resolutions.
Last night, the Russian-backed loyalist forces bombed besieged Douma, Eastern Ghouta, with bombs and artillery.
Local sources reported that the loyalist forces told the displaced people of Eastern Ghouta that they will return to their towns after agreements with important political figures from the area.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights documented 738 deaths in Eastern Ghouta in the three weeks since the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 2401, which demands a 30-day countrywide ceasefire.
The Jaysh Tahrir al-Sham, which is affiliated with the FSA, launched a military operation against the loyalist forces in Eastern Qalamoun, 75 kilometers northeast of Damascus, to support Eastern Ghouta.
In the north of Syria, the Kurdish Autonomous Administration in Afrin, Northwestern Aleppo, threatened the FSA and Turkey saying that they will launch counter-attacks from their bases in the area.
Loyalist artillery forces shelled areas near the Turkish bases in the southern countryside of Aleppo. At the same time, a Turkish military reinforcement convoy arrived in the area.
Five civilians, including a child, were injured by barrel bombs and naval mines in residential neighborhoods in the village of Mishmshan, 55 kilometers west of Idlib, Northern Syria.
In Maarrat al-Nu'man, 35 kilometers south of Idlib, Northern Syria, civil figures and institutions announced their refusal to recognize the Salvation government, or any other military-affiliated government.
In Eastern Syria, the Islamic State seized control of a major oil pumping station after clashes with the government forces in Bukamal, 125 kilometers east of Deir ez-Zor.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) arrested three displaced families from Deir ez-Zor for charges of connection with the IS. The families were trying to enter the al-Karama camp, Eastern Raqqa.
A private security source reported that American landmine experts arrived at the dams of al-Tabaqa, 45 kilometers west of Raqqa, and al-Rasheed, also known as “al-Baath," 24 kilometers west of Raqqa. The experts will remove the landmines that might have been planted by the IS around and on the dams.
The Iranian New Year, Nowruz, approaches, and the General Commander of the al-Asayesh forces, which are affiliated with the Kurdish Autonomous Administration, will increase security in the region starting between Mar. 19 and Mar. 22.