Latest reports from the fighting in East Ghouta suggests that despite fierce resistance from Jihadi fighters the Syrian army is continuing to make rapid advances in the enclave.
According to this map provided by the Al-Masdar news agency, around a third of the enclave has now been captured by the Syrian army.
The Syrian army now apparently stands poised to cut the enclave in half, in which case – with the Jihadi fighters cut off from each other – resistance will crumble rapidly.
As discussed previously, the battle of East Ghouta is closely following the pattern of the fighting in Aleppo in 2016, though at much higher speed.
Just as during the fighting in Aleppo in 2016, so now during the fighting in East Ghouta Russian President Putin is insisting on daily five hour bombing pauses and the setting up of a humanitarian corridor to allow the civilians to flee.
Just as during the fighting in Aleppo in 2016, so now during the fighting in East Ghouta scarcely any civilians are escaping through the humanitarian corridor, with the Russians blaming the Jihadi fighters for preventing them from doing so.
Just as was the case in Aleppo in 2016, so in East Ghouta now the Russians say that this is because the Jihadi fighters want to use the civilians as human shields.
Though there is no independent reporting of the fighting making the conflicting claims hard to asses, Jihadi fighters – both those fighting for ISIS and those fighting for Al-Qaeda – are known to have used civilians as human shields and to have prevented civilians from leaving war zones in Syria and in Iraq in the past.
That makes it most likely that the Russian claims are true.
Just as was the case in Aleppo in 2016, so in East Ghouta now, the Western media and the Western powers nonetheless put all the blame on the Russians and the Syrian government for the deaths of the civilians.
As for UN Security Council Resolution 2401/2018 – voted on in such acrimony just a week ago – it has proved to be – just as the Russians predicted – a dead letter.
The key facts to take away from the fighting in East Ghouta are these
(1) the Syrian army is fighting far more efficiently and effectively than it did in Aleppo in 2016, which shows the radical improvement in its performance and morale caused by the massive Russian and Iranian aid it has had over the course of the last year, and by the many victories it has won since its victory in Aleppo in December 2016;
(2) the defeat of the Jihadis in East Ghouta will mean that the Jihadis can no longer directly threaten the Syrian government in either of its two main cities: Damascus and Aleppo.
It is always difficult to guess how long the fighting in any particular place in Syria will last, and there is always an outside chance that things may go radically wrong, for example if the US intervenes in the fighting in response to reports of a chemical attack.
However putting aside these outside possibilities, I suspect that the fighting in East Ghouta will be over within weeks, and that the whole enclave will be once more under the Syrian government’s control within a month.