Brigadier General Suheil al-Hassan, commander of the Syrian army’s elite Tiger Forces, delivered a speech in Damascus on 16 February in which he pledged to eradicate the armed opposition presence in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, one of the few areas of Syria still under opposition control.
The redeployment of the Tiger Forces from Idlib to Damascus is a key indicator that the operation against eastern Ghouta will become the Syrian government’s main effort in the coming weeks. The main opposition group in eastern Ghouta is Jaish al-Islam, which is a highly organised and capable military force that has managed to hold ground on the outskirts of Damascus, despite persistent government shelling and airstrikes since 2011, the intensity of which has recently increased.
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