On March 8, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces captured the S-200 maintenance base, only 500 meters east of the town of Aftaris in the southern part of the East Ghouta pocket, according to Syrian pro-government sources. The base, which was captured by Jaysh al-Islam in late 2012, had been considered one of the main maintenance facilities of the Syrian Air Defense Forces’ S-200 long range air defense systems.
The sources said that the SAA had managed to evacuate a family of three people during its advance for the first time since the beginning of its military operation in the East Ghouta pocket on February 18.
Meanwhile, Hamza Bayrakdar, a spokesman for Jaysh al-Islam, announced that the armed group had launched a counter-attack on SAA positions in the Duma farms in the northern part of the East Ghouta pocket. During the counter-attack, Jaysh al-Islam fighters killed twenty SAA soldiers, destroyed a vehicle armed with a 14.5mm gun and damaged a T-72 tank of the SAA, according to Bayrakdar.
The SAA and its allies were able to capture several farms around the Duma district and the towns of Misraba and Mudayrah during the last few days. An unnamed SAA commander confirmed to Reuters on March 8 that the advance in this area is aimed at slicing the eastern Ghouta pocket in two parts.
According to Syrian pro-government activists, the SAA will be able to achieve this goal within days as Jaysh al-Islam appears to be unable to resist effectively anymore.