Syrian army says it has retaken eastern Ghouta
DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian army has declared the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus “fully liberated” after the last group of gunmen left the town of Douma.
An army statement read by chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub said Saturday that special units are clearing streets and squares of Douma from mines and explosives planted by rebels.
Douma is the largest town of the suburbs known as eastern Ghouta and its capture marks the biggest victory for President Bashar Assad’s forces since the conflict began seven years ago.
The army said that troops discovered weapons factories, arms depots, tunnels and food storage places.
It added that the army is preparing eastern Ghouta for tens of thousands who were displaced over the past two months during a crushing government offensive to retake the area.
Meanwhile, Syrian state TV carried live images of hourslong street celebrations with people dancing and chanting in support of their government’s “steadfastness” following unprecedented joint airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain on Syria.
The report showed people waving Syrian flags, alongside those of Iran and Russia— the main allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad during years of the country’s conflict — in the face of what many called “limited” or even “failed” strikes designed to punish Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons.
Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the incoming missiles, according to the report, which urged citizens not to believe other media reports “intentionally or unintentionally” exaggerating the results of the attack.