On February 28, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces captured the entire town of Hawsh al-Dawahirah and the al-Shaffoniya roundabout north of it in the eastern part of the East Ghouta pocket, according to Syrian pro-government sources. Earlier, the SAA and its allies captured a number of key buildings and an underground tunnels network in Hawsh al-Dawahirah.
Warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) backed the SAA attack and targeted several positions of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Jaysh al-Islam around Hawsh al-Dawahirah and inside al-Shaffoniya, 2km northwest of it.
Meanwhile, the Jaysh al-Islam-linked news agency Kumait reported that Jaysh al-Islam fighters had killed 40 SAA soldiers and injured 50 others in East Ghouta during the last 24 hours. However, the news agency didn’t provide any evidence supporting its claims.
In a related development, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria said that militants had sabotaged the humanitarian pause in East Ghouta for the second day in a row and had not allowed any civilian to leave the pocket, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Observers believe that the SAA and its allies will expand their ground operations in the East Ghouta in the upcoming days as the ceasefire has proven to be a failure. The key town of al-Shaffoniya will likely be the next target of the SAA.