Pro-government media activists and outlets spread rumours that the Russian military is going to deliver cruise missile strikes (using Kalibr missiles) against militant targets in the Eastern Ghouta region, located near the Syrian capital Damascus. After missile strikes, Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser will allegedly launch an air campaign to support the long-awaited government advance on the key town of Douma, controlled by Jaish al-Islam militant group.
However, this looks hardly possible. Especially part about missile strikes near Damascus. All previous missile strikes (against al-Nusra and ISIS) and a major part of Russian airstrikes were delivered in a low or medium populated areas, targeting militant HQs, amunition depots, oil facilities and convoys. The Russian military has avoided to conduct massive air campaigns against militant targets in a high populated areas (like Aleppo city). One of the reason of this is to avoid additional civilian casualties and for sure additional diplomatic and media pressure that would be for sure in case of these actions.
Reports about possible Russian strikes in the area came after Eastern Ghouta militants rejected the government proposal to evacaute to Idlib province, mostly controlled by variuos militant factions. Most likely pro-government sources dissiminate these reports as a part of the ongoing psychological operation aimed to push Eastern Ghouta militants to surrender.
Recently, government forces liberated the village of Mid’ani and deployed reinforcements to relaunch massive military operations in the region. The Syrian military will have to put Jaish al-Islam and its allies on the verge of defeat before the “opposition” will become ready to make an agreement with the government.