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Last weekend a defense of militant groups operating in Eastern Ghouta collapsed under pressure of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies and the militant-held pocket was cut off into two separate parts.
Government forces liberated the town of Madiera, almost isolated the neighborhood of Harasta, captured farms near Jisrin and attacked Atfris.
The area of Douma is controlled by Jaish al-Islam with help of some units of Ahrar al-Sham, while the southern pocket is jointly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham.
On the same day, some pro-militant sources and mainstream media outlets released reports about a new chemical attack allegedly conducted by the Syrian government. The chlorine gas attack allegedly hit people in the neighborhood of Irbin. No evidence confirming these claims were provided.
It’s interesting to note these media reports came just few hours following the collapse of the militants’ defense in Madiera.
On March 12, the SAA continued its advance aiming to isolate Harasta from Douma. According to pro-government sources, SAA units already achieved this goal. However, they still have to secure the recent gains.
Reports are circulating that US and Israeli-backed militant groups are preparing for an attack against the SAA in the city of Daraa in southern Syria. The alleged attack would exploit the SAA involvement in Eastern Ghouta operation and aimed at indirectly assisting militants there.
Over the last 3 days, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have captured more villages from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northwestern Syria. Despite YPG counter-attacks, the TAF and the FSA have reached the vicinity of the YPG-held stronghold of Afrin from the northeastern direction and have almost done this from the southwestern direction. Should Turkish forces isolate Afrin, main clashes will be moved to this urban area.
On March 11, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the TAF and the FSA had seized 950km2 since the start of the operation in Afrin.