With most of the suburbs of
Damascus recaptured by the Syrian government by February 2018, there remained a significant swathe of the countryside near the capital city captured by jihadists from the rebels in 2012 that had been under
siege by pro-government forces since 2013.
Syrian forces began bombarding and shelling the area in early February after Russian-brokered peace talks failed, killing 200 by 8 February, according to the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 They again started bombarding it on 18 February, and did so for eight consecutive days before beginning the ground offensive.
The main rebel faction in the area was
Jaysh al-Islam, based in
Douma (with an estimated 10–15,000 fighters in the region in early 2018
). The second largest was
Faylaq al-Rahman, an official affiliate of the
Free Syrian Army (FSA), controlling much of central and western parts of Ghouta, including the
Ain Terma districts.
 In addition,
Ahrar al-Sham (based in
Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – controlling smaller districts such as
Hawsh Al-Ash'ari and
Bait Naim, with an estimated strength in the area of 500 in February 2018
) had a far smaller presence.