Syrian government forces have taken full control of Eastern Ghouta after months of heavy fighting against rebel forces, Russia’s military announced on Thursday.
The collapse of rebel control in eastern Ghouta, formerly the biggest rebel bastion near Damascus, has delivered Russian-backed Syrian forces their biggest victory in the seven-year war since recapturing Aleppo in 2016. Earlier this week, Western powers accused the forces of Bashar Assad of a deadly chemical attack in the town of Douma, the last pocket of rebel resistance in the area, a claim that Russia has denied at the UN.
“A landmark event occured today in the history of the Syrian Arab Republic. A government flag hoisted atop a building in the town of Douma proclaimed control over the town and over Eastern Ghouta,” Major General Yury Yevtushenko, the head of Russia’s Reconciliation Center for Syria, was cited as saying by Interfax on Thursday.
Russia announced that it would deploy military police in Douma starting from Thursday to guarantee “law and order in the town and facilitate aid for the local population,” Lieutenant General Viktor Pozniher of the General Staff was cited as saying by Interfax on Wednesday.
“The Syrian government has launched a massive effort to restore the civilian infrastructure of Eastern Ghouta,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has said Washington is preparing an airstrike against government forces in Syria, in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.