Syrians rally in Damascus Umayyad square on April 16, 2018 in support of President Bashar al-Assad and celebrate the Syrian army's victories in eastern Ghouta. (AFP Photo)
DAMASCUS, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Syrians in Damascus thronged the Umayyad Square celebrating the military victory in Eastern Ghouta despite the U.S.-led attack on Syrian military positions.
Holding Syrian flags and posters of President Bashar al-Assad, the crowds chanted slogans in support of the army forces, which recently wrested full control over the towns of the Eastern Ghouta region east of Damascus.
The Douma district was the last piece of Eastern Ghouta to fall back to the Syrian military control, with over 21,000 rebels and their families evacuating to the northern rebel-held city of Jarablus last week.
The evacuation of rebels from Douma came after 43,000 thousands of rebels and their families evacuated other towns in Eastern Ghouta to rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib late last month.
Meanwhile, the crowds also hailed the response of the Syrian army to the U.S.-led missile attack on Syrian military positions on Saturday, as the Syrian army said its air defenses shot down most of the missiles launched on Syria.
"Today we are here to celebrate our army forces, which brought back peace and security to the capital after years of rebels attacks, and also confronted foreign military strikes so it's about time we celebrate in this square without fear," Jamal Salem, a 22-year-old university student, told Xinhua while covering his shoulders with the Syrian flag.
The Umayyad Square is the main square in Damascus and it was the stage for pro-government rallies ahead of the rebels control over Eastern Ghouta, but when the rebels took over the pro-government rallies have stopped out of fear of the rebels' mortar shells.
But after the rebels' threats have been eliminated, this square has returned to be an arena for celebrations for the first time in years Monday.
Fatima Jasem, another university student, said she was attending the rally to deliver a message that the U.S. missile strikes or threats couldn't instill fear in the heart of the Syrians.
Tamer Shaban, a state employee, described his feeling with proud, saying "I am so proud now it feels like a long time in the war, but now we are safe I wish peace prevails all of Syria so that everyone can sense the priceless feeling of peace."
He said "the U.S. should stop meddling in other country's affairs they need to leave us alone we can solve our problems on our own, we didn't call for them to be a global police force that has gone rogue anyway."
On Saturday, the United States, Britain and France launched missile attacks on military positions in the Syrian capital Damascus and the central province of Homs to retaliate for the Syrian army's alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma on April 7.
The Syrian army said in a statement that the air defense system has intercepted most of the missiles, stressing its resolution to continue fighting the foreign-backed terrorism in Syria.
The attacks came just before the arrival of the international investigators of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who are supposed to visit the district of Douma, where the alleged gas attack took place on April 7.
The OPCW team arrived on Saturday afternoon and held several meetings with Syrian government officials, after the Syrian government and its Russian allies called for the OPCW to send a team of investigators to look into the allegations, which were completely rejected by the government.
The Syrian government accused the rebels of staging the attack to draw in foreign military strikes.
Earlier on Monday, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his government is keen to cooperate with the chemical weapons investigators, according to the state news agency SANA.