A SYRIAN army statement confirmed yesterday that Syrian government forces will lift the siege on the terrorist-held sections of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta ‘very soon’. The statement continued that, ‘We have received instructions from the army command to lift the siege off our people in Eastern Ghouta … God willing, very, very, very soon … they will return to the state’s embrace,’ the statement added.
Meanwhile, state television reported that Syrian army units were attacking terrorists in the Eastern Ghouta town of Mesraba with preparatory fire to secure the entry of infantry units. It is from inside Eastern Ghouta that the foreign-backed terrorists have been launching indiscriminate mortar and rocket attacks on Damascus, which have resulted in many civilian deaths, men, women and children.
Syria has established a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave the operation zone, while Russia has been enforcing daily pauses in fighting from 09:00am to 02:00pm local time to facilitate the exit of people. The terrorists have been blocking the exit of civilians, using them as human shields in the face of the government’s counter-terrorism operations.
Earlier yesterday, Syria’s official SANA news agency said buses have been waiting near the safe corridor to transport the people leaving Eastern Ghouta to a housing centre set up by the government, but no civilians have so far managed to get out. On Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry also announced that some of the anti-Damascus terrorists in Eastern Ghouta were ready to accept Moscow’s offer to leave the region with their families.
As in Aleppo, Russia offered ‘militants’ safe passage out of Eastern Ghouta, stressing that those leaving with personal weapons and their families would be guaranteed immunity from prosecution. However, the response was that Hamza Birqdar, the military spokesman of the Takfiri Jaish al-Islam terrorists, said they would stay in Eastern Ghouta and rejected talks of a withdrawal.
‘There are no negotiations about this subject. The factions of Ghouta and their fighters and its people are holding onto their land and will defend it,’ he said in a text message. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has meanwhile stressed that Western states are making false claims of chemical weapons use as an excuse to resume their violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Ministry revealed that ‘Syria has lately seized, after liberating a number of regions in Hama countryside from terrorism, more than 40 tons of chlorine gas in the presence of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s inspectors.’ It noted that the ‘United Nations and Chemical Weapons Convention had been informed about the trucks loaded with poisonous substances entering the country and a terrorist stockpile of Sarin gas in an archeological region in Idlib province.’
It concluded: ‘The Syrian Arab Republic, which has repeatedly affirmed its non-possession of any form of chemical weapon, and its non-use of chlorine gas as a weapon, reiterates that it is first in defending its citizens and in preventing the use of poisonous materials on its territory,’ added the statement.
The Iranian, Russian and Turkish foreign ministers plan to hold a meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana next week in line with the three countries’ efforts to pave the way for ending the nearly seven years of war in Syria. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Turkish and Russian counterparts, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Sergei Lavrov respectively, are set to meet on March 16 ‘without observers or Syrian sides,’ Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. According to this position the Syrian government will not be present.
All the more reason for Syria to retake Eastern Ghouta by March 16th so that Iran, Russia and Turkey will presented with an accomplished fact – that Eastern Ghouta has been liberated.
Then the only issue at the meeting will be an immediate Turkish withdrawal from Afrin. The Syrian people will not be satisfied with anything less than this!