E.I.R.Weekly Newsletter

The Schiller Institute

The tide has been turning against the terrorist groups, perversely
called “freedom fighters” by western media, in many
parts of Syria and now in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus
that has served as a base to terrorize the capital and its
inhabitants, while at the same time keeping alive the illusion of
the existence of an opposition force able to threaten the Syrian
regime. It is feared that the remaining forces could stage a
“chemical weapons” attack against civilians in order to provoke
massive military retaliation by the U.S. and its allies. Hundreds
of thousands of civilians have been kept as human shields in the
densely populated area for several years now.

After the terrorist groups in Ghouta refused to respect the
UNSC ceasefire declared in Feb., the Syrian army relaunched an
operation in early March to liberate the area, and have succeeded
in dividing Ghouta into three separate sections. The tactical
objective was to separate the three main armed groups from
one another and squeeze them into smaller areas. Jaish Al-Islam,
a Saudi-financed Salafist group that controls the northern
part of Eastern Ghouta (Douma), has accepted to participate in
the Astana de-escalation process. In the center of Ghouta (Harasta),
the Qatari-financed group Failaq Arrahman has recently
formed an alliance with the Al-Qaeda branch, Al-Nusra Front
(aka Tahrir Alsham) which controls Harasta, which is the closest
area to Damascus center.

By March 17, the trickle of civilians fleeing the three areas
through the humanitarian corridors had turned into a flood of
thousands of civilians. They are reportedly receiving hot meals
at field kitchens, set up by the Russian military at checkpoints,
as well as shelters in evacuated schools. The Syrian government,
in coopeation with the UN and International Red Cross, has also
allowed aid to reach the terrorist-held areas.

It is expected that the operation in Ghouta will end as in Aleppo
in 2016, whereby the besieged terrorists, if they lay down
their arms, will be being allowed safe passage to Idlib, which is
still controlled by the Al-Nusra and other groups.
With the liberation of Ghouta, there will be only a few small
pockets near Damascus, and an area in the South on the Jordanian-Israeli
borders, where the terrorist groups are still active.

U.S. forces are also protecting thousands of militants in Al-Tanf
on the Syrian-Jordanian border. One major confrontation point
will be Idlib, which is not considered as a major strategic threat
to the Syrian government, but still is a regrouping point for all
kinds of terrorist groups.

An unresolved, major strategic flashpoint, is U.S. involvement
in Syria. The terrorist groups are still capable of staging
“chemical attacks” to get the Pentagon to retaliate. The United
States also continues to hold large territories in eastern Syria, in
cooperation with the Kurdish Democratic Forces. Both Russian
and Syrian officials have warned that Washington intends to
carve the country up along ethnic lines. Turkey’s incursion into
Afrin together with other Syrian terrorist groups like the Free
Syrian Army would play into such a scenario.


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