On March 31, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Higher Command announced in an official statement that units of the SAA had entered the districts of Irbin, Ayn Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar in the western part of the Eastern Ghouta region.
“After a series of carefully planned battles and military operations conducted by our armed forces with the help of friendly and allied forces, control over all the cities and settlements of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta has been restored,” the SAA Higher Command said in its statement.
The SAA entered the four strategic districts only minutes after the withdrawal of the final batch of Faylaq al-Rahman and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters towards the northern governorate of Idlib. The final batch consisted of 65 buses carrying 927 fighters and 2935 members of their families, according to the Syrian Arab New Agency (SANA).
Syrian pro-government sources said that Faylaq al-Rahman and HTS had freed the last eight captives from their prisons before completing their withdrawal under the evacuation agreement which was reached on March 23.
The districts of Irbin, Ayn Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar fell into the hands of the militants after a large attack on the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2012. During the last six years, the districts were a base of the militants who shelled Damascus almost on daily basis, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians, according to pro-government sources.
Now, the SAA will work to clear the newly liberated districts from the tunnels, IEDs and weapons that have been left behind by the militants. Local observers expect that normal life will return to these districts within months, as most locals opted to stay instead of leaving with the militants.