On Tuesday, shock units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) sliced through ISIS-held desert territory, seizing 20 square kilometers from the hardline jihadist group.
The surprise government advance, some six kilometers in depth, was conducted east of the Tishreen Power Plant in a region not far from Damascus International Airport.
Islamic State contingents largely withdrew from the sparsely populated area over the past week amid a tactical retreat through the Syrian Desert towards Palmyra. US vetted Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters have also advanced in the area recently.
Strategically, this operation secures an important bufferzone around the East Ghouta pocket which speculations suggest that Jordanian-backed and US-trained Syrian rebels will try to reach in a bid to break its long-standing siege.