On March 8, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) expanded its security zone around the town of al-Qaryatayn in southern Homs and the regions of East Qalamun and East Ghouta in Damascus governorate to 80km, according to Syrian pro-government sources.
The sources said that the SAA had expanded the security zone in order to prevent terrorists stationed around the US-led coalition base in al-the Tanaf area, near the Syrian-Iraqi border, from infiltrating its positions in southern Homs and eastern Damascus.
ISIS cells and fighters of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) temporarily captured al-Qaryatayn town on September 29 after they had successfully infiltrated the SAA defense lines, according to a report of the Hezbollah media wing in Syria.
Moreover, pro-government activists believe that many weapons were smuggled from the al-Tanaf area to the besieged militants in the East Ghouta region and the East Qalamun region. These weapons reportedly included even US-made TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).
Right after establishing the new security zone, the Syrian Military Intelligence intercepted and seized a weapons shipment, which was on its way to Eastern Ghouta. Locals from Eastern Ghouta informed the Syrian Military Intelligence about the shipment, according to the Hezbollah media wing in Syria.
The shipment included US-made weapons like M16 rifles and LAW anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades along with UK-made smoke hand grenades. Satellite communication systems and drugs were also a part of the shipment.
The new security zone will likely allow to improve the security situation around the Syrian capital of Damascus and limit the US-led coalition capability to support its militants in central Syria.
Photos of the SAA security zone: