SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 9, 2018: SYRIAN ARMY GAINS UPPER HAND IN EASTERN GHOUTA BATTLE

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On March 8, the Syrian Arab Army, the Tiger Forces and the Republican Guard liberated the villages of Hawsh Ashari and Hawsh Qubaybat, the Jisrin farms and the Air Defense Battalion base in the Eastern Ghouta region, near Damascus from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam.

The Air Defense Battalion base had been one of the main maintenance facilities for the Syrian Air Defense Forces’ S-200 long range air defense systems before it was captured by Jaish al-Islam in 2012.

Hamza Bayrakdar, a spokesman for Jaysh al-Islam, claimed that the militant group had launched an attack on government positions in the Douma countryside and had killed twenty SAA soldiers as well as destroyed a vehicle armed with a 14.5mm gun and damaged a T-72 battle tank.

By March 9, government forces have liberated about a half of the entire Eastern Ghouta pocket. Currently, militants remain in control of the most urbanized area in the southern and northern parts of the pocket. Clashes there will be especially complicated for the SAA, primarily because of the risk of civilian casualties.

On March 8, the Hezbollah media wing in Syria reported that the SAA had expanded its security zone around the town of al-Qaryatayn up to 80km. This effort was aimed at preventing weapons supplies and militant infiltration efforts from the At Tanf area, which is controlled by the US-led coalition and its proxies.

On the same day, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army captured the town of Jinderes, the villages of Hallubi Kabir, Merasat al-Khatib, Shawarighat ak-Jawz and the Zaghur camp in the Afrin area from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The media wing of the YPG claimed that YPG fighters conducted “a special operation” against the Turkish Army in the village of Matinli killing seven Turkish special forces soldiers.

On March 9, Turkish forces continued their efforts to isolate Afrin advancing northeast, west and south of the YPG-held city.


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