On April 18, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces launched a military operation against the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the Eastern Qalamun region, 40km north of the city of Damascus. Syrian pro-government sources reported that the SAA had begun its advance around the town of al-Ruhaybah and had captured the Hawash area.
Warplanes of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and the Russian Aerospace Forces supported the SAA attack and conducted more than 600 airstrikes on positions of the FSA in the mountainous areas of the Eastern Qalamun region, according to Syrian opposition sources.
The unified command of the FSA announced in an official statement on April 12 that it is against any evacuation or reconciliation agreement in Eastern Qalamun and vowed to fight until the end.
According to Syrian pro-government activists, the SAA is not planning to attack the FSA-held civilian areas in the Eastern Qalamun region in order to minimize the casualties. However, the SAA will work to clear all the mountains in the region to force the FSA to accept an evacuation agreement.
Local observers believe that the SAA and its allies will be able to capture most of the Eastern Qalamun region within a few weeks as airstrikes had already destroyed most of the assets of the FSA in the region.