On February 22, helicopters of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) dropped thousands of leaflets over the Eastern Ghouta pocket, in which the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) called on the civilians to leave the pocket through several safe routes and warned them that a military operation will begin soon in the region.
The SAA promised the civilians that it will move them to secured area, provide medical care and food and then allow them to return to their homes once terrorists there are eliminated. Similar procedures were taken by the SAA and its allies during the battle of Aleppo in late 2016. This allowed tens of thousands of civilians to leave the battle areas safely.
The SAA’s plan to evacuate the civilians from the East Ghouta pocket hints that the SAA and its allies are planning to clear the entire pocket from militant groups operating there: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam.
The Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria accused the opposition forces in the East Ghouta pocket of hindering the efforts to evacuate the civilians from the pocket in an official statement on February 21.
The SyAAF drops such leaflets only when the SAA and its allies is fully ready to attack. So, the SAA and its allies might launch their ground attack on the East Ghouta pocket in the upcoming days.