Al-Masdar reported, today, the Syrian Arab Army’s foremost elite army corps, the Republican Guard – assisted by a paramilitary unit of Hezbollah – fully captured the strategic Air Defence Base at Bala al-Kadim village in east Ghouta along with the nearby Zahir Farm after carrying out a succesful offensive in southeastern Damascus.
The Air Defence Base was reportedly captured by government troops after heavy clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra throughout the morning and afternoon. According to an al-Masdar source embedded with the Syrian military in Damascus, 13 Jabhat al-Nusra (Syrian al-Qaeda group) fighters were killed during the battle along with dozens of injured insurgent militants.
On the other hand, 3 Republican Guard soldiers were left injured while no actual deaths were inflicted upon the government side. If the Syrian Arab Army is able to secure and fortify the Air Defence Base, it can be used to defend against hostile Israeli jets that have struck Hezbollah militants in the countryside of Damascus several times in the past few years.
Four days ago, government troops also captured Farzat hill, in an area near the site where the former leader of Jaish al-Islam, Zahran al-Alloush, was killed by a Syrian airstrike in December. Additionally, these advances help government soldiers to expand the corridor built from Marj as-Sultan Airbase towards central Damascus. Subsequently, Islamist rebels from Jaish al-Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are unable to retreat from the southern pocket of East Ghouta into more secure rebel-held areas further north.