Syria Videos: Insurgents Claim Victory in “Phase 1” of East Ghouta Offensive

Insurgents have partially lifted a media blackout to post videos declaring victory in Phase 1 of their month-long offensive to break regime positions in East Ghouta, near Damascus.

See also Analysis: Insurgent Breakthrough in East Ghouta, Near Damascus?

Opposition-held territory in East Ghouta, which has been subjected to chemical weapons attacks and regular regime bombardment, has been besieged for many months. The insurgent campaign initially seeks to clear Syrian military checkpoints to ease the blockade.

In Phase 1 of the offensive, opposition forces sought to secure supply routes to the south and to the Jordanian border. Sources say this goal was achieved by last Saturday.

The Islamic Front posted a video claiming that insurgents have taken all towns and villages in an area of more than 40 square kilometers, “eliminating the first line of defense of the Assadis”, targeting key regime positions, and destroying scores of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery.

See English transcript

The Front claims that more than 800 troops and members of foreign militias, including 200 Syrian Army officers, have been killed and many others have been captured.

Scores of videos have been posted by the Ahrar Ghouta faction and by Liwa al-Islam.

On occasion, the released videos mention particular towns, such as Otaiba, but most just say “mujahideen” have carried out successful operations in East Ghouta. However, the collection appears to show insurgents occupying the center of Deir Salmon (see map) and Qasimayah and moving into Otaibah.

Footage has also been posted of slain Syrian officers and a soldier who was killed after refusing to surrender.

Some of the released footage:

Insurgents planning the offensive:

Fighting for Deir Salman:

Moving into Qasamiyah:

Attacking a base of pro-regime militia:

Claimed clashes within Otaiba:

Inside a building in Otaiba:

Seizing a regime BMP:

Claimed liberation of Al Sheeka
Fighters near Otaiba

Full catalogue of links on Reddit Syria Civil War


Transcript of Islamic Front Statement

0:01 In the name of God the most gracious, the most merciful.

0:04 The general leadership for the battle of ‘God is the highest and most honorable’.

0:12 Quran quote.

0:22 After the media silence on the battle for breaking through the siege which is part of the strategy of this battle. We have assumed Friday morning of the 20th of the holy month of the Lord the year 1435 of hijrah.

0:43 The enemy has implemented a military action that he has carefully planned for.

0:49 Its goal is the siege/blockade of Ghouta politically, militarily, and economically over the period of 8 months.

0:59 The enemy did not have an effort or a weapon that it did not employ which included chemical weapons, which is forbidden by human rights.

1:11 Because of that, the mujahidoon: Jund Al Malahim, Jaysh Al Islam, Al Ithad Al Islami Li Ajnad Al Sham, Faylaqo Al Rahman, Kateebati Noor Al Ghouta, and Kateebati Jund Al Haq decided to work with Saraya Al Ribat Al Electroni

1:33 to wage this battle that we have planned for by allying ourselves with some soldiers inside the enemy lines.

1:41 With great precision, that stunned the regime and its supporters. Here we stand at the results of the first phase in this continuous battle:

1:52 Liberate many towns that are stretched over an area of 40 kilometers;

2:06 Destroy the first defense line of Assad forces in Ghouta that is stretched over 8 kilometers;

2:13 Destroy the control headquarters at one time which frightened the enemy;

2:24 Destroy 23 armed vehicles;

2:43 Killing 800 of Assad forces & allies, with 204 bodies of them in hand of rebels, including leaders of different ethnicities;

2:54 Seize 44 armed vehicles including 4 Tanks and some other light weapons.

3:10 Finally, we assure the enemy and their supporters that the rebels no longer are monopolized and that we will cut every hand that surrounds us and kills our children.

3:26 Closing words: the date December 15, 2013

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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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, I am sure he was refusing to surrender when they just walked right up to him and shot him. Makes complete sense. That must also be the reason the camera man tried to push the guy in front of him out of the way so he could catch the execution. This is why they don’t surrender, they get shot the moment they do.

    • Concerned,

      Many of the videos were held back because of the insurgency’s media blackout, which means the footage is likely to be from days ago. In other words, the clips should be considered as a record of insurgent activities over the weeks of the offensive, rather than just on Monday.

      S.

  2. Why Ghouta? It seems strategically worthless as compared to adra which would allow guerilla strikes against both transport and housing.

  3. Got to feel sorry for all the people affected by this war. Fighters on either side and civilians. Suffering doesn’t discriminate.

  4. I bothered to watch a total of 7 clips alleged to be actual and from Ghouta (speciifically in and around Otaiba):
    I saw one captured Shilka and two captured BMPs assuming that the second one is not a later footage of the first one. Further I saw 3 dead government soldiers or militia members. I wonder why the victorious rebels did not show more of the 44 armed vehicles they captured, not to mention any of those 800 killed of whom they claim to have 204 in their hands.

    Further questions:
    – Where is the snow?
    – The rebel tanks and many fighters stand totally exposed without no or little cover: Has the SAA or it´s militias no ATGMs or RPGs? Is there no regime airforce around? And why is noone firing back?
    – Why are the rebels firing for minutes into a ruined building just from right outside of it and throwing grenades into it while a rebel tank is nearby? Why does not the tank flatten the building with 2-3 shells?

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