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Syria Forecast, Nov 25: The Battles in East Ghouta Near Damascus

Syria Forecast, Nov 25: The Battles in East Ghouta Near Damascus
November 25
07:11 2013


Video: Massive Explosion As Children Interviewed in Damascus
In Moadamiyyeh, West Ghouta, A Civilian Risks His Life To Gather Firewood
Reports of Pro-Assad Activists Accusing Hezbollah of “Treason”
Insurgent Success Brings “1st Food Deliveries to East Ghouta in Months”


The Week Past, The Week Ahead: Iran Agreement, A Re-Formed Insurgency in Syria
1st-Hand: Fear & Confusion Among Refugees in Lebanon

Insurgents in East Ghouta, near Damascus, appear to be in the midst of an offensive to break the months-long regime siege of the area.

An unknown number of casualties have been suffered by both sides, but reliable information puts the deaths of regime fighters — mainly Shia militias, rather than regular Syrian Army — at well over 100.

Video posted over the weekend showed insurgents celebrating success against the siege.

The Syrian military has been trying since the summer to break the insurgent hold on the suburbs, using bombardment by warplanes and artillery and sometimes trying to move in ground forces. Among the attacks was a chemical assault on August 21 which killed hundreds in the area.

The attempts to clear the insurgents have failed, but the regime has continued to restrict food and supplies. On Friday, opposition fighters launched a series of attacks on military checkpoints to break the blockade.

State media is saying little about the fighting, merely asserting, “Army units repelled members of armed terrorist groups that tried to attack military posts and checkpoints in al-Bahariyeh, al-Qassmiyeh and al-Qariyeh al-Shamiyeh in the eastern Ghouta.”

Video: Massive Explosion As Children Interviewed on Outskirts of Damascus

The children were unhurt by the blast:

In Moadamiyyeh, West Ghouta, A Civilian Risks His Life To Gather Firewood

Footage from Monday shows a civilian in the besieged West Ghouta town of Moadamiyyat ash-Sham risking his life to gather firewood amid regime bombardments. The town has been under total siege for over a year, with regime forces refusing to allow food or medical aid into Moadamiyyeh.

Civilians Injured in Heavy Regime Air Raids on Yabroud, Damascus Suburbs

Several civilians are reported injured as a result of heavy regime air raids on a market in Yabroud in the Damascus suburbs (click for map).

Footage of the aftermath of one of the attacks:

Reports of Pro-Assad Activists Accusing Hezbollah of “Treason”

Syrian news site Zaman Alwasl reports that pro-Assad activists on Sunday accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah of treason, saying that the group disobeyed orders from the Syrian Arab Army, which resulted in a large number of casualties among Assad’s regular forces in East Ghouta.

Zaman Alwasl cites “Assad’s Servant”, a Facebook page run by activists loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as saying that over 60 Syrian Arab Army soldiers were killed Sunday after Hezbollah defied army orders amid news of insurgent advances in six towns in East Ghouta near Damascus.

Insurgent Success Brings “1st Food Deliveries to East Ghouta in Months”

According to well-placed sources, East Ghouta has received its first food deliveries in months, following weekend attacks by insurgents on regime positions, although “the siege is not totally broken”.

The sources claim that the Syrian army and National Defense Force militia could not hold positions and retreated in many of the clashes, leaving Shia units — including foreign fighters — exposed.

The Syrian National Coalition has put out a statement — interestingly, highlighting co-operation rather than conflict with the newly-formed Islamic Front — claiming victories:

The Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front captured the towns of Buharriya, Qasimia, Abbada and Deir Salman in Eastern Ghouta after fierce clashes with Assad Forces with reports of regime losses. Clashes are still going on in the town of Otaiba, a main supply line that the anti-Assad battalions depend on for the delivery of humanitarian aid and medicines to the besieged areas….

Anti-Assad battalions announced they fully liberated the town of Deir Attiya in Al Kalamoon area and the Samiya village near Damascus International Airport.

Insurgents in Daraya dance in the street:

Sources also assert that the insurgency is continuing to block the Damascus-to-Homs highway, holding up the regime’s Qalamoun offensive.

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<a href="http://eaworldview.com/byline/joanna-paraszczuk/" rel="tag">Joanna Paraszczuk</a>, <a href="http://eaworldview.com/byline/scott-lucas/" rel="tag">Scott Lucas</a>


Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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  1. Robert
    Robert November 25, 10:33

    Rebels are celebrating and not knowing what. Their offensive is nothing but hype. They claimed to have captured Al-Bahariyah, Deir Salman, Abbadeh in eastern Ghouta and about to capture Qtaybah. They said to take over Khanasser and to block road to Aleppo and to recapture Deir Atiyah and Qara in Qalamoun.
    In fact they attacked SAA positions in east Ghouta and elsewhere, but there is not yet any substantial achievement. On the other hand FSA lost 5 field commanders during the attack in eastern Ghouta, also Al Nusra chief in eastern Ghouta was killed. Such loses usually do not indicate successful operation.

    Reply to this comment
    • Yassam
      Yassam November 25, 15:18

      The statement about these towns being captured was by one single twitter guy and of course it was just fantasy.
      But if the goal of the current offensive is to break the Eastern Ghouta siege, they dont have to neccesarry take these towns and can just open a path between them. Though that begs the question how they can hold this path once the regime counteracts. So its in their own interest to consolidate their potential gains by taking over these larger villages and towns as well.

      In general I would advise to let the dust settle a bit. All these claims by pro and anti opposition are hard to verify and I wouldnt give much about the various twitter statements or youtube-videos.
      It worked wonder during the rebel Latakia offensive in summer and the regime deployments around aleppo direcly after qusayr, when both sides blowed the scope of fighting and successes completly out of proportion.

      Reply to this comment
      • RedTornadoes
        RedTornadoes November 25, 19:32

        I have to disagree with you re: Latakkia. The rebel offensive was never intended to be anything but a diversion which had two goals though it had the potenial to be more serioous:

        GOAL #1: A much needed assault on regime morale by striking in a place previously seen to be immune–the Alawite heartland..

        GOAL #2: Take pressure off Homs where he regime was close to victory.

        Both goals were met. Rebels clearly never attempted to take the entire coast or sought to hold the gains. Otherwise, they’d have used far more than 2,000 forces.

        As I wrote at the time, one reason not to go further was that supply lines would be in danger of being cut if the regime shifted forces from Homs to the Jisr Al Shughour area in their rear.

        You are also correct to argue that all the rebels need to break the siege is a limited breakthrough which will do enough damage even if they can’t hold it though doing so would be even better.

        The minimum goal, I think, is to replace the present forces with fresh well fed, well supplied forces with better arms and sufficient ammo and food. Force the regime to start anothe prolonged seige from scratch after a year of trying and at a time when it is much weaker. The idea makes sense.

        Reply to this comment
    • Alex
      Alex November 25, 15:35

      for what exactly are those soldiers dying in the field ?

      Reply to this comment
      • Richard
        Richard November 25, 20:33

        so that the 120 member congregation of Our Blessed Bashar can continue to own 65% of everything and make up their own laws.

        Reply to this comment
    • Concerned Civilian
      Concerned Civilian November 25, 16:11

      Guess we arent talking about breaking the siege anymore today, i am totally shocked.

      But now its an advance, a major advance at that.

      Tomorrow we will be talking about an attack on a few villages in the middle of east ghouta, and the day after that another major rebel victory will be invented.

      But you have to understand due to the “media blackout” there will be no videos to support the claims, only text “reliable sources”.

      Robert you must understand that some sites are on the net so they boost rebel morale, even though i seriously doubt that a lot of them get internet access or can read english for that matter.

      The idea is for the rebels to blowthemselfs up at a government check point, or any building in government controlled areas and not at the IED factory in the rebel area, due to depression at how things are going for the rebels

      Reply to this comment
      • Alex
        Alex November 25, 18:02

        Racan ‏@Racanarchy 4m

        Pro assad website reporting the siege on ghouta was broken due to Hezbollah disobeying SAA order. Calls them traitors. Lol.

        Reply to this comment
  2. Alex1911
    Alex1911 November 25, 11:51

    #Syria southern rural #Aleppo Rebels took over Qashutah & Bash Kuy villages – close to al-#Safira Defence factorie

    Reply to this comment
  3. Alex1911
    Alex1911 November 25, 13:41

    Mark ‏@markito0171 1m

    #Syria #Aleppo 2 sources confirm: Rebels on the edge of al-#Safira defence factories & took over Qashutah & Bash Kuy

    Reply to this comment
  4. Alex
    Alex November 25, 15:17

    #Syria #Aleppo ISIS took control of timber factory south of Sheikh Said district & killed 20 #Assad-forces

    Reply to this comment
  5. Richard Rittenburg
    Richard Rittenburg November 25, 15:40

    Assad made a statement several days ago in which he claimed a rebel army of 20,000 was being gathered, trained, equipped in Jordan. Does anybody know anything about this?

    I read into it –
    During the cold war, America could tell what Russia was doing by what they accused america of. Hezzbollah and Ba’ath have both been the same way at least since cedar revolution (what they accuse M14 of doing telegraphs what they are planning). Hence, it is likely that the number of hezzbollah fighting in syria is around 20,000.

    There may be some type of troop activity near daraa involving 5000 to 15000 rebels.

    Reply to this comment
    • RedTornadoes
      RedTornadoes November 25, 19:18

      Several sources say elite units trained in Jordan and numbering eight thousand (not 20,000) are involved in the East Ghouta battle and entered Syria about three weeks ago.

      Though I was a bit skeptical about reports of their arrival earlier, the scale of regime setbacks, the rapidity of the SAA’s retreat and the bombing carried out among Assad’s elite Republican Guard units in a place where they should be invulnerable (Mount Qassoun) suggest such involvement.

      EA did a good summary of developmens this week (mainly the last four days) at the location below but did miss four things I bring up in a subpost there, including:

      1) possible involvement of elite FSA forces in East Ghouta.

      2) A Gallipoli-like betrayal by the SAA of its Iraqi allies in the area that left them high and dry and surrounded and is likely to have consequences.

      3-4) The summary did not include developments in Raqaa and underplayed rebel gains in Aleppo which threaten the regime’s version of Hitler’s 6th army with similar encirclement. If the regime has not already suffered a Tet-like shock in the last few days, I’d say these are two places that could bring down the house if things continue as they appear to be going.

      Note Alex’s posts elsewhere below which suggest the danger I wrote about above already seem to have moved closer in Aleppo.


      I haven’t done any further updates at Iranian.com today where they’ll appear under the old header for now. I’ll start by drawing readers attention to the subpost/analysis I just mentioned above at EA.

      For updates go to the top item at the usual link:


      Reply to this comment
  6. Alex
    Alex November 25, 15:44

    For Joanna Paraszczuk, Scott Lucas !!!

    there is the story now that regime wants to change all ID cars on anew model, the idea being that only regime controlled areas and supporters will get them so only they can VOTE in next elections insuring the regime obtains an owerlming victory

    Reply to this comment
  7. Alex
    Alex November 25, 18:16

    Elderly Christians protected by FSA expose regime lies yet again…

    ‪#‎Aleppo‬, 25-11-2013: ‘As social media websites abound with horror stories of jihadists murdering minorities in Syria, a group of elderly Christians in Aleppo and the rebels who care for them portray a different reality.

    …The hostel is under the protection of the rebel Free Syrian Army and a brigade of Islamist fighters called Liwa al-Tawhid.

    Michael Oberi, another resident, said: “Every morning the men of [Liwa al-Tawhid commander] Abu Ammar bring us bags of bread, and every fortnight they bring us flour, salt, rice and pasta.

    …Juri is even more to the point.

    “ Abu Ammar and his men … watch over us. If they are the ones who kill Christians, why would they protect us?” ‘

    Reply to this comment
  8. Genome45
    Genome45 November 25, 19:33

    It appears that the rebel propaganda yesterday about Easter Ghouta was premature.

    They took seven small villages but already lost 3 of it. And they don’t have Otaiba so the siege is till on.

    Rebels suffered massive casualties, higher than the loyalists according to sohr.

    Reply to this comment
    • Phil Sayers
      Phil Sayers November 25, 21:18

      Both sides have taken massive casualties and yes the rebels have probably taken more both due to relative equipment / training and as in this instance they are the attacking side. The question is who is better placed to deal with taking such terrible losses.

      Orient TV (rebel affiliated) has made this report which apparently claims that pro-regime forces have suffered 250-300 KIA with 175 taken prisoner ‘on the Marj front’ which I suspect probably means in the whole offensive. If anyone reading understands Arabic I would be grateful for clarity on that:


      I don’t doubt the figures are too high but equally I don’t think anyone can doubt the ferocity of the fighting and painful casualties for all parties. The regime itself is scarcely bothering to deny it.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Alex
    Alex November 25, 21:12

    Radio Free Syria

    Rebels topple statue of Hafez Assad…regime denies it’s happened despite photographic evidence…

    25-11-2013: ‘Syrian rebels toppled a statue of President Bashar al-Assad’s father in a key town of Qalamoun near Damascus.

    The fall of the statue came amid news that the Syrian rebels had taken Deir Attiyeh in what would be a significant development in the 32-month-war against Assad.

    The Giant Statue situated on the top of huge hill next to the international road that connects the capital with Aleppo, Homs and Latakia, Assad’s homeland.

    Pro-Assad denied the toppling of Statue by a bombing quoted saying the statue [is still standing].

    Zaman Alwasl monitoring group confirmed the toppling of the statue according to BBC report which aired live on Thursday, November 21st, the footage accidentally showed what had remained of the statue, just the legs nothing else.’


    Reply to this comment
  10. Alex
    Alex November 25, 21:29

    Majd Arar ‏@MajdArar 1h

    NDF brigadier Mazen Taleb (from Saydnaya) killed yesterday in E Ghota battles near Otaybah. #Syria #Damascus

    Reply to this comment
  11. RedTornadoes
    RedTornadoes November 25, 22:03

    Now there are two quarrels between the Syrian regime and Hezbollah–the one I reported in East Ghouta where mainly Iraqi Hezbollah are accusing the Syrian Army of a double cross and one EA reports today in Qalamoun where the SAA accuses Lebanon’s Hezbollah of betrayal. As things continue to go badly for the regime look for more of the same.

    It’s also nice to see all that food and ammo entering once besieged locations in Damascus. Even if the regime manages to close the corridor–which isn’t certain given all the licking they just got, they’ll have to start all over again since fresh troops have likely replaced previous defendes and will likely be more heavily armed. Rebels should take this opporunity to stock up.

    From the time of the Harasta explosion until today I’d bet the regime has lost over 1,000 KIAs with several times that wounded or captured.

    Reply to this comment

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