Syria Military Round-Up, Oct 16: Attacks In and Near Damascus


LATEST: Reports Of Clashes Between ISIS and FSA’s Northern Storm Around Azaz

SUMMARY: The Assad regime continued its bombardment of Damascus suburbs on Tuesday, while insurgents hit back by firing mortars into the capital.

There were also reports of a mosque in the al-Tadmon neighbourhood, south of Damascus, at the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The Syrian military pressed its campaign to claim territory and open routes south and southwest of the capital, with bombardment of Daraya and Moadamiyyat Ash Sham.

An airstrike on Daraya on Tuesday:

Meanwhile, concern grew over more than 1000 civilians evacuated by Syrian authorities from Moadamiyyat Ash Sham last weekend. Activists said they had no news of where the people, including many women and children are being held, and reported that at least 10 boys had been taken away for interrogation and had been abused.

State news agency SANA said 10 civilians were wounded by a bomb in the al-Mazzeh section of Damascus, while 12 were injured in mortar attacks in al-Midan and al-Kanawat.

Four citizens were injured by mortar shells fired by terrorists on the citizens’ houses in the residential al-Kanawat neighborhood in Damascus. Mortars were also fired on al-Abbasyeen.

Harakat Ahrar Ash Sham Claim To Use Tank To Blow Up Regime Tank

Ahrar Ash Sham propaganda video claims to show the faction using a tank to destroy a regime tank near Al Mastouma in Idlib Province (click for map).

In Aleppo, Local Groups Organize Dancing — With Giant Blue Bunny — For Eid

A rather non-traditional but captivating sight in this Aleppo mosque on Wednesday — as children dance at an Eid celebration and are joined by a large, blue sandal-wearing bunny.

Fire Breaks Out In Raqqa’s Firdous District After Regime Shelling

A large fire has broken out in a residential building in Raqqa’s Al Firdous district, the result of heavy regime shelling. Civilians are trying to put out the fire.

Reports Of Regime Forces Using Women, Children As Human Shields To Invade Moadamiyyat Ash Sham

Citizen journalists are reporting that regime forces are using women and children as human shields as they try to invade the West Ghouta town of Moadamiyyat Ash Sham from the west. We are waiting for more information about the claims. There is footage of fighters from the Free Syrian Army escorting civilians, including older people, out of an area on the outskirts of the town.

This 12 second video of Free Syrian Army insurgents escorting women and children away from the area was posted on Wednesday morning:

Claimed footage of FSA fighters escorting civilians captured by regime forces:

Unconfirmed Reports Of Turkish Tanks Shelling ISIS Positions Near Azaz

Update 2: More reports emerging of tensions along Turkey-Syria border as Turkish forces fired on ISIS on Tuesday:

Update: Turkish news source Millyet reports on the tank shelling. No other Turkish sources are reporting the incident as far as we have seen.

Earlier on Wednesday, we noted unconfirmed reports that Turkey has shelled ISIS positions in Azaz from across the border on Tuesday.

Kurt Pelda offers more information:

Pelda’s report matches local reports which said that ISIS fired artillery onto a checkpoint on a hill above Azaz, and then took over the checkpoint.

ISIS Video Shows Jihadis From Kazakhstan — And Their Families — In Syria

An ISIS propaganda video, widely circulated on Russian-language pro-jihad sites, shows a group of ISIS fighters from Kazakhstan in Syria. Unusually, the men are with their families and the video footage shows a large group of women and children present in what appears to be a large villa with a swimming pool that has been converted to a base and residence. The location is not clear but it the villa appears to be a residence in Aleppo Province captured by ISIS earlier this year after fall of Menagh Airbase. The children are shown reciting the Quran, as are some of the men.

One man, named as Abu Khaled Al Kazakhi, explains in Russian that he has responded to a hadith which calls on Muslims to wage jihad. “This should be enough for any believer,” he says, adding: “I cried after the fighting — why — because I thirst for death more than I thirst for life. We have come here to wage jihad… Enshallah, we thirst for death on this path and that Allah will bring our martyrdom and allow us into paradise.”

Reports Of Clashes Between ISIS and FSA’s Northern Storm Around Azaz

There are reports of more clashes on Tuesday between Islamist faction the Islamic State of Iraq and Ash Sham and the Free Syrian Army’s Northern Storm Brigade and the Tawheed Brigade around Azaz and Mount Prusaya (جبل برصايا) in the Kurdistan region along the Syria-Turkey border.

According to the Facebook page of youth opposition activists in Azaz, ISIS captured a checkpoint on Mount Prusaya from Northern Storm:

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Some local outlets cite an announcement by the commander of the Tawheed Brigade which stated that Tawheed fighters were killed and wounded after ISIS launched artillery strikes on the checkpoint. Several displaced persons living in a nearby camp were also injured, according to reports.

The statement by Tawheed condemns ISIS’s actions around Azaz, and notes that Tawheed is not a party to the conflict between ISIS and Northern Storm but a mediator, whose role was to try to broker a ceasefire.

Footage from Tuesday shows smoke from some of the shelling:


The Local Coordination Committees claim 71 people were killed on Tuesday, including 26 in Damascus and its suburbs, 13 in Aleppo Province, 12 in Daraa Province, and 11 in Deir Ez Zor Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records that 75,966 people have been killed since March 2011, a rise of 87 from Tuesday. Of the dead, 56,639 are civilians, an increase of 41 since yesterday.


  1. IN Daraa Province, the Alawite regime reportedly rounded up men, women and chlldren, locked them inside a building and then had a tank shell the victims. That story is my lead for my Syria roundup today. It probably won’t be accessible until morning when you can find it at the usual location:

    For anyone who still does not understand how totally repulsive this regime is I’ve also attached links to three very graphic videos, including one from this week, showing the regime slaughtering harmless animals–sheep most recently and donkeys and horses earlier..In the latter case you can easy hear the murderers laughing and chuckling and they mow the horses down. Many serial killers have a history of murdering and torturing poor animals, hence the ability to do a Baniyas or the sort of crime described in the lead post. Everyrthing about this regime is psychopathic..

    Other items include a figure for lost tanks going back to March and some predictions regarding which regime locations are likely to fall first.

    • EA”s report on the Alawite regime’s use of women and chldren as human shields reminds me of the recent reports of how prisoners are similarly used in Aleppo.

      When the rebels attack, the regime commander orders a tank to fire into cells packed with 40 or so men, killing most and de-limbing the rest (with no medical treatment). See also the details of my own roundup above. See Baniyas and the chemical attacks.

      There is no low to which the Assad regime cannot sink. Even the worst of Al Queda-linked ISUS[–itself possibly a covert ally of the regime–looks angelic by comparison.

  2. What to Make of Saudi Hand-Wringing

    “These are troubling and uncertain times for Saudi diplomacy. A string of regional upsets and friction with the United States has cast the kingdom into rocky, uncharted waters. Washington’s support of the Islamist government in Egypt and its response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria elicited outrage and accusations of U.S. unreliability and even betrayal from Riyadh. Then came the slight warming in U.S.-Iranian relations—highlighted by the unprecedented phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. That mild rapprochement brought to the fore an old specter: an U.S.-Iranian breakthrough that marginalizes the Gulf states and erodes their long-standing position as beneficiaries of U.S.-Iranian hostility.

    On the editorial pages of Saudi newspapers, columnists have sounded familiar themes with new levels of intensity: The Gulf is being shut out of regional negotiations. The United States was duped on Syria and Iran. The Gulf needs to adopt a more muscular, unilateral approach to safeguard its own interests, and it should cultivate new security patrons to compensate for U.S. capriciousness, perfidy, and retreat from the region.

    But what does this latest round of hand-wringing, protest, and introspection really mean in terms of new directions in Saudi foreign policy?”

  3. Why the West is Wrong on Syria
    Op-Ed by Razan Zaitouneh, Damascus Bureau 2011 Syrians took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations that called for a free, democratic Syria, raising the slogan of “the Syrian people are one,” yet, since then, the West has bet on the development of sectarian strife rather than encourage the peaceful revolutionary movement that started in 2011. Despite all that, we are still fighting many battles against Assad’s brutal, sectarian regime and the regime’s efforts to prevent a just, unified, free Syria.


    • I wonder what the author means by this statement:

      “The West is trying to repeat the Iraqi scenario in Syria in a terrifying, paradoxical way as it refuses to do what it should do under the pretext of not turning Syria into a second Iraq.”

      The US illegally invaded Iraq and completely dismantled the state through its policy of de-Baathification, leaving a gaping vacuum to be filled by eternal violence and instability. The US also tried to impose its narrow worldview on the Iraqi people, who were neither prepared nor willing to comply, leading to a further breakdown of order and an eventual withdrawal of US troops ten years later – with absolutely nothing to show for the trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost.

      The West – rather, the US, UK, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar – has already pushed Syria towards the precipice by funding and arming an opposition that is ill-equipped to unite, let alone fight the Assad regime. Yet recent events have shown that the West has actually largely learned its lesson from the Iraq debacle – that is: do not dismantle the Syrian state, for fear of creating a vacuum that has already wreaked havoc in Aleppo and other opposition-held areas; do not interfere in regional politics that have been shaped by forces not understood by the West; and, most important of them all, uphold international law and respect democratic rights.

      Maybe the author is issuing a veiled threat, by suggesting that not intervening in Syria will force the opposition to turn the country into another Iraq, which it has already done to a large extent.

  4. RE: “The Syrian military pressed its campaign to claim territory and open routes south and southwest of the capital, with bombardment of Daraya and Moadamiyyat Ash Sham.”

    This attempt reveals both the regime’s defensive priorities and its shrinking capacities. Unable to scrape up forces to cope with simultaneous threats to Damascus and Qalamoun, note which one it sees as the greater threat.

    We are watching the remake of an old movie from Aleppo with a new cast. Daraa City stars as Aleppo and Damascus stands in for Hama. Will the remake also feature a big convoy breaking through in the early states never to be seen in Damascus. As in Aleppo, subsequent convoys won’t even reach the object. Where they do take something, they’ll lose it again in no time with Al Safira-style casualties.

    Meanwhile each lost convoy will reduce the offensive and defensive capacities or remaining forces in Damascus–a pattern we’ve seen in Hama.


    “One day we’d have pregnant women being brought in with gunshot wounds to the uterus. Not just one or two, but seven or eight, which meant to me they (the snipers) must be targeting pregnant women.

    And the following day, we would get people coming in with chest wounds to the right side of the chest.

    The next day it would be the left side and no other injuries. Then it would be groin wounds; everybody would come in with a groin wound.
    So it seemed to me that there was a death game going on with the snipers.


    We saw this act in Daraya, East Ghouta and Khanassir/Al Safira. Here’s the latest one:

    • Typical of the “proof” you post are these two links embedded in your source that claims the Syrians are losing 100 tanks every month:
      a) Hama: Rebels attacking checkpoint & destroyed tank in town of Aqrab.
      Fact: You can see nothing
      b) Syrian rebels destroyed and captured multiple BMP in Deir_Ezzor.
      Fact: Nothing to be seen as destroyed, nothing captured.

      I checked out many other videos:
      2 show the same tank from different angles in Jobar
      On another one a T-72 is hit but to no visible effect, let alone “destruction”

      You are misleading yourself and others. No army in the world can afford to lose 800 armoured vehicles in 7 months as you claim. Such far fetched claims leave the major questions unanswered and prove that the claims are flawed:
      How is that the regime is on the offensive on many fronts? And why have the rebels not made any real progress anywhere since the capture of Meng airport? Why are Deir al Zour, Idlib city, half of Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, 80% of Homs, Lattakia, Tartous, 80% of Daraa city still in the regimes hands?

      • Re: No army can survive such tank losses.

        An army that started out with 5000 to 6000 tanks can, but obviously NOT if the trend continues. As the source states, he has sufficient video verification. I’ve noted the reasons his figure probably understates tank losses if anything. I also supect also that the regme is short of reliable tank crews once you get beyond the Alawite-heavy RG units in Damascus.

        RE: Why have the rebels not made any real progress anywhere since the capture of Meng airport?

        As in “Are you still beating your wife?” you beg the question by assuming something as fact in the queston which is not so. All rebel offensives and most have been successful in terms of those goals (so unlike most regime offensives). Attempts to take whole cities prematurely via frontal offensives were never a rebel goal yet you cite the failure to do what they haven’t tried to do…yet…as failure. Rebels will act when the time is right.

        DEIR EZZORR & ALEPPO: Do rebels possess more or less since than they did when Mennegh fail. The answer is obviously more–lots more.

        LATTAKIA: Employing very limited forces rebels accomplished what they intended–creating chaos, shaking confidence in the regime and relieving pressure on Homs. Job done, they beat it. Why repeat Hitler’s mistake at Stalingrad?

        HAMA: Who had virtually unchallenged control of Hama and nearby countryside just three months ago. Is it so today?

        HOMS: Why would the rebels be foolish enough to attack Homs before Hama? Their goals for now have been GRADUALLY cutting it off, converting the regime’s once “sure thing” success into the present stalemate, reinforcing rebels inside the city and breaching supply lines into the city.

        TARTOUS: To site the fact that the regime is still in full possession of an area where the rebels have not yet attacked is a virtual admission of how badly the regime is doing in so many other places.

  6. Buweida captured today in south Damascus by pro governement forces, confirmed by both governement and rebel (sohr) sources.

    That’s the fourth suburbs taken by pro governement fighters in less than one week south of Damascus. There is an successfull offensive going on there.

    This is a very interesting map about the situation n Damascus and Rif Dimashq, you clearly see the army attacking and encircling rebels areas almost completely, both in eastern Ghouta and western ghouta.

    When the army took Otaibah and several other key eastern ghouta cities this spring, they completely put the rebels on the backfoot and they have been losing ground since. The army, NDF and shia militia are taking the benefits now.

    The chemical claims and airstrikes threats only delayed the advances.

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