Syria's Assad visits troops in besieged Ghouta

Video released by the Syrian president's office shows Assad driving to eastern Ghouta as his soldiers appear close to defeating the last opposition foothold.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad talking with regime forces in Eastern Ghouta on March 18, 2018.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad talking with regime forces in Eastern Ghouta on March 18, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad met with soldiers in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday (March 18), the presidency said, in the leader's first trip to the former rebel enclave outside Damascus in years.

Syria state television broadcast photos of the president dressed in a shirt and jacket surrounded by soldiers, some perched on a tank behind him, in an unspecified part of Eastern Ghouta.

Rebels have held out in Eastern Ghouta since 2012, but a regime assault in the last month has retaken more than 80 percent of the former opposition bastion, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor says.