© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
19:04 16.05.2018(updated 19:16 16.05.2018) Get short URL
Units from the Syrian Army and other government forces have been looking to build on their impressive territorial gains in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, via operation Damascus Steel, and are continuing to oust Daesh* terrorists from their remaining positions in south Damascus.
Militants in a number of towns and villages in the provinces of Homs and Hama withdrew after they agreed to leave to other parts of Syria, or surrendered to government forces and remained in the area, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Wednesday, citing an announcement by the Syrian Army’s General Command.
© AFP 2018 / LOUAI BESHARA
The deal was negotiated by the Syrian Ministry for National Reconciliation and the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation after extensive talks with the militant groups.
As a result of the evacuation and reconciliation deal, government forces successfully recovered 1,200 square kilometers of territory in central Syria, including 65 towns and villages.
Additionally, the militants handed over their medium and heavy weapons to the Syrian Army, including a number of infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) of the BMP series, rocket launchers, and multiple ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” self-propelled anti-aircraft systems.
This latest victory over hardline Islamist militants, who have plagued Syria for over six years, was hailed by the Syrian Army General Command as a highly strategic victory.
“[The significance of this achievement] is reflected in the uprooting of the armed terrorism from the central region which constitutes a traffic node connecting the Syrian provinces in addition to liberating the dams of al-Rastan and al-Houla, and ending the terrorist threat to sensitive and strategic facilities,” the Syrian Army General Command said in a statement on May 16.
© AFP 2018 / AMER ALMOHIBANY
The withdrawal of terrorist forces from the area has also taken the al-Zara power plant out of the range of militant rockets and artillery shells, the statement added.
On April 24, Syria’s Minister for National Reconciliation Ali Haidar said that government forces would seek to liberate the militant-held pocket in north Homs once they have successfully expelled terrorists from the Qalamun region.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.