Syrian War Report – March 22, 2018: Syrian Army Gets Control Of Harasta, Militants Withdraw

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About 1,500 Ahrar al-Sham militants and 6,000 civilians, mostly families of the militants, are set to leave the Harasta area of Eastern Ghouta under an evacuation agreement with the Syrian government on March 22.

Under the agreement militants surrender all of their heavy weapons and get an open corridor towards the militant-held part of the province of Idlib.

Late on March 21, a source in the 4th Armoured Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) told SouthFront that militants had started burning their HQs and weapon depots.

If the agreement is successfully implemented, the SAA will get a full control over the urban area of Harasta further isolating the southern part of Eastern Ghouta from the militant-held area of Douma.

Meanwhile, the SAA, the Republican Guard and the Tiger Forces captured a large part of the Ein Tarma farms and entered the town of Hazzah. According to pro-government sources, a major part of Hazzah is now under the government forces control. However, this still has to be confirmed.

The mass evacuation of civilians and humanitarian aid delivers allow the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance to decrease a factor of civilian casualties and human shields usage in the ongoing operation, implementing an Aleppo-like scenario when every evacuated family undermine the militants’ defensive capabilities.

Over 40 tonnes of toxic agents have been found in the areas liberated from militants, Major General Igor Kirillov, said on March 21.

“Damascus has officially confirmed its readiness to assist in any investigation into a chemical attack in Syria. However, international organizations have refused to cooperate with the Syrian government, practically conniving with terrorist organizations in their illegal activity. The Syrian Foreign Ministry pointed out that more than 40 tonnes of chemical warfare agents have been discovered on the territories liberated from terrorists,” Kirillov said recalling frequent accusations of an alleged chemical weapons use against the Damascus government. “At the same time, the international community prefers turning a blind eye to the real facts in which chemical weapons are used in Syria against the government troops and civilians,” he added.

ISIS have captured the whole neighborhood of al-Asali and 90% of al-Madaniyah neighborhood in the al-Qadam district in southern Damascus, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed. According to Amaq, ISIS has killed 173 SAA soldiers and has destroyed 2 battle tanks, a rocket launcher, a bulldozer and a BMP-1 armored vehicle in clashes for the area.

The Turkish Army and its proxies captured the town of Barad and the village of Kimar south of the city of Afrin following clashes with members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and some government-linked militia there.

After the fall of Afrin, Turkey has slowed down its military operation in the area. However, its forces are still willing and are able to capture some settlements in a de-facto buffer zone between them and the SAA.

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