Five terrorist factions, including Jayish al Islam and the al-Nusra Front, have created a joint leadership center in East Ghouta, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
"The situation in East Ghouta is worsening. In the enclave, militant groups Jayish al Islam, Jabhat An-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Failak Ar-Rahman and Fajr Al-Umma have created a joint center for coordinating the actions of the groups," the ministry said.
The ministry added that despite the adoption of a UN resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, militant groups targeted Syrian forces along the contact line on the morning of February 25.
The Jayish al Islam group that had formerly pledged to adhere to the truce regime nonetheless continued to shell Damascus from areas it controls, the ministry pointed out. A total of 31 mortar shells have been fired at Damascus in the past 24 hours.
Militant group leaders are preparing a provocation with the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta and intend to accuse Damascus of targeting civilians as a means to discredit the Syrian government's ongoing anti-terrorist operations in the area, the ministry stated.
The developments come after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401, stipulating an immediate halt in the conflict and urging the warring sides to adhere to a long-term ceasefire throughout the country to ensure unhindered humanitarian aid deliveries as well as the medical evacuation of the injured.
Since February 18, Syrian government forces have been carrying out operation Damascus Steel in a bid to clear East Ghouta of illegal Islamist units. The humanitarian situation in the quickly area deteriorated as terror factions provoked Damascus forces and prevented civilians from leaving combat zones.