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Following a week-long barrage of missiles and airstrikes, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored a series of gains in the Al-Qabun district after unleashing the bulk of a seasoned division and elements of the Republican Guard on beleaguered rebels in eastern Damascus.

Spearheaded by the 106th Brigade of the Republican Guard and the 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, Syrian government troops advanced from two flanks and swept through the entire groves area between the Harasta and Al-Qabun neighborhoods, thus gradually enclosing the latter district.

Further north, the SAA broke through Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham’s defensive line at the Mahabbeh football field and expelled jihadist insurgents from the area.

With all adjacent farms and woods captured, the SAA has now reached the first residential areas in the eastern and northern parts of the Al-Qabun suburb while also securing a stranglehold on the neighbouring rebel-held Barzeh district.

Meanwhile, a credible report emerged that elders from Al-Qabun traveled to downtown Damascus to negotiate an imminent rebel surrender. So far, local Islamist commanders have declined propositions that would have insurgents leave for Idlib.

The offensive is commanded by Brigadier General Ali Mahmoud and Colonel Ghayath Galla; these prominent army commanders also masterminded the recent Wadi Barada campaign.

Picture from the this evening on the Al-Qabun front:

Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News

Ibrahim Joudeh, a field correspondent based in Damascus, contributed to this story.