Syria Daily: Pro-Assad Forces Renew Attacks Near Damascus


PHOTO: Damage in Wadi Barada from pro-Assad attacks, 25 December 2016

UPDATE 1850 GMT: Rebels claimed that they have inflicted more casualties on pro-Assad forces attacking in the East Ghouta area, northeast of Damascus.

Despite the nominal ceasefire, the pro-Assad offensive has been trying to take more opposition territory; however, it has been thwarted repeatedly in the past week near Madani.

A rebel coalition of Jaysh al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman, and Ahrar al-Sham said they had destroyed tanks and regain the village of Hazerma, briefly held by regime forces.

UPDATE 1630 GMT: The jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham have acknowledged that they carried out attacks on two regime checkpoints in eastern Hama Province, on the road between Salamiyah and Homs.

JFS, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, claimed that it took control of the checkpoints, blowing one up before withdrawing. The jihadists said they killed “dozens” of regime troops and seized weapons and ammunition.

Syrian State news agency SANA asserted that the attacks were repelled as the army bombarded the JFS fighters, “inflicting heavy losses upon them in personnel and equipment”.

UPDATE 1430 GMT: President Assad has said that his future is not up for discussion at political talks scheduled for Kazakhstan later this month.

Turkey and Russia are brokering the arrangements for the discussions, hoping to bring together the regime and the Syrian opposition.

As a delegation of French MPs visited Damascus,” target=”_blank”>Assad told French media on Monday:

My position is related to the Constitution, and the Constitution is very clear about the mechanism of the president’s arrival to power or his departure.

Therefore if they want to discuss this point, they should discuss the Constitution, which is not owned by the government or the president or the opposition.

The opposition have insisted that Assad must step aside in any political resolution. A pro-opposition source reacted to the President’s statement, “After ceasefire violations [by pro-Assad forces], this is the final nail in the coffin [for the political process].”

Turkey has also set this condition, although Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus indicated last week that Ankara might have been wrong to insist on the pursuit of the President’s removal.

Russia has been cautious in its stance on the long-term position of Assad, but Iran has set a “red line” against demands for his departure.

Assad also indicated that regime and Hezbollah forces will continue to violate the ceasefire with the offensive on Wadi Barada near Damascus, saying “terrorists” had occupying the main source of water for Damascus.

Rebel factions scoffed at Assad’s declaration that the most he could offer fighters was “amnesty”.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Continuing to break a national ceasefire, pro-Assad forces have renewed their four-week offensive to overrun Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus.

Regime and Hezbollah forces had limited their attacks on Saturdayamid discussions for access by Russian technicians to the water pumping facilities damaged by the pro-Assad assault. Wadi Barada’s al-Fija springs provide more than 60% of Damsascus’s water.

But on Sunday the forces resumed bombing, shelling, and ground assaults to overrun the area of 10 villages and betweeen 50,000 and 100,000 people.

Two weeks into the offensive, a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey went into effect. However, the Assad regime and its supporters maintained the attacks on the pretext that the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham were excluded from the truce and were present in the area.

The opposition, rebels, and local sources say that JFS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, left Wadi Barada as an organized force in late 2015 and that no more than 30 members are in the villages.

Turkey has warned that the offensive will derail plans for political talks between the Assad regime and the opposition later this month in Kazakhstan.

Russia has maintained silence while President Assad’s other essential ally, Iran, has backed up the line that the offensive is justified. Local sources also say an Iranian headquarters near Wadi Barada is involved in operations.

Claimed footage of the attacks:

Damage at the pumping facilities for the al-Fija springs:

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  1. #Hama: About time! “Report that Syrian rebels are advancing in new offensive west of Salamiyah in Hama” – JohnArterbury
    Why is this important? Recently the regime was forced to empty Salamiyah of troops in order to re-enforce T4/Tiyas airbase against Daeesh, therefore not only is Salamiyah is under-defended IF Salamiyah falls to rebels (e.g. rebels over-run it) the regime would be forced to choose defending T4/Tiyas airbase against Daaesh and leave Salamiyah in the hands of rebels or defend Salamiyah and risk T4/Tiyas airbase to fall to Daeesh. Finally by capturing Salamiyah rebels will be able to either attack eastern Hama city by launching an offensive to the west or push their offensive south and link up with the rebel pocket in Homs. Win, win either way.
    However it should be noted that under no circumstances rebels in Hama province should engage in static warfare (ie stuck in one place for a long time in large brigade [3000+] size units surrounded with trenches) rather rebel should adopt a mobile guerrilla warfare approach. Because eastern Homs is a flat desert area by adopting a mobile guerrilla warfare approach rebels can hold/control that territory not by digging trenches but by having a ‘presence’ (ie having concealed men/fire-power in an area that can be quickly mobilised/organised into launching a successful ambush that area) in that area.
    To facilitate mobile warfare rebels will have to adopt this method – one that is mobile (ie not fixed in one area but can be quickly moves from one theatre to another – this would require all light artillery to be mounted on vehicles, all mortar and light-machine gun units be given their own transport, giving all assault troops into a motorbikes, giving all battalion units 4/5 BMPs, mounting TOWies on dune-buggies) multiple small-units (battalion – 350+ men that each have their OWN ammo and fuel wagons that will supply them for 3 weeks then after which they must seize their own from the regime) that only fight short (ie no more then 48 hours) sharp (ie uses it’s ammo and men in a very focused/concentrated way to reach a very specific objective – this could be a check-point or building) raids on enemy positions that can be quickly isolated or infiltrated (or better still both) on multiple fronts. The success of this approach relies on stealth (which rebels can acquire through night-offensives and greater use of camouflage), speed (not only because their units have fewer logistical needs, due to their smaller size, so can mobilise quicker but also because their units, including the light artillery units, are mounted rebel can move from one area without being slowed down) and shock (so as long reconnaissance and infiltration of regime positions – including bribing junior regime officers – is done properly rebel’s would be able to attack unexpectedly all the time).
    One of the advantages of fighting a mobile guerrilla approach is that it allows/enable you to have a forward defence (ie pre-emptively destroying/obstructing a regime offensive (usefull in the Homs areas as regime is too busy with Daeesh) before it gains momentum – e.g. attacking and destroying a regime assembly area before regime troops before they are prepared) policy and in doing so it takes fighting away from rebel areas and brings it to regime areas, and because a forward policy through mobile warfare takes the fight to regime areas it gives the attack the initiative to pick where and when they’ll fight their enemy. Another advantage is that it allows rebels to ‘defeat in detail’ (ie it allows rebels to crush regime forces piece by piece by first luring or divide small regime forces from bigger regime units and then concentrate all rebel troops against them once rebels have successfully isolated them) regime forces.
    #Observation: “While the trend existed before, it is since the collapse of the oil sector during the war that Syria has really pushed to use more gas.” – Jacm212
    Proves yet again the importance of launch rebels permanently seizing or destroying regime important infrastructure (eg. oil/gas fields, oil/gas pipelines, water treatment facility centres, power plants etc). Not only does it deny regime the ability to continue bribing pro-regime civilians but it also allows rebels to enrich themselves as those pro-regime civilians would be forced to pay rebels for that service and in doing so allow rebels to purchase jamming and surveillance equipment on the black market. Furthermore if regime besieges a rebel held city again rebels can use that infrastructure as an economic weapon against the regime.

    • I’d also like to add that if successfully ‘forward defence’ approach (through ‘mobile guerrilla warfare’ operations) rebels can damage the regime by having enough of a ‘presence’ (not in the sense that rebels occupy town/village or have a trench around something but rather have a ‘concealed/camouflaged presence’ in the area – ie rebels have enough concealed artillery and men in an area to launch a successful ambush or raid in the area) in either shiite or pro-regime Sunni areas that it either forces the regime to send troops there (out of fear it’d cause a revolt amongst the Alawite Republican Guards – like a besieged Alawite town of Latakia/Hama) or it forces the local elites there to arrange a type of treaty with rebels where they/pro-regime elites no longer send troops to Assad’s army (and thereby make it smaller) as well as begin to pay (and thereby make more rich?) rebels for protection.
      For me the regime-held areas of Syria where adopting a mobile guerrilla warfare method and combining it with a ‘forward defence’ approach would be ideal/perfect would be in in Alawaite-shite and pro-regime Sunni areas of Latakia/Hama/Homs. By taking the fight to large Alawite-shiite and pro-regime Sunni settlements in Latakia/Aleppo/Hama (and thereby forcing the regime to re-enforce those positions because of rebel presence or otherwise risk a coup by Republican Guards in Damascus for failing to protect such areas) rebels will not only be able to push fighting away from their territory and onto their regime’s territory but because the areas are Alawite-shiite or pro-regime Sunni if such areas were to fall to rebels it would politically destabilise the regime. And here’s the most attractive part of this idea – if rebels were to launch a successful mobile guerrilla warfare in these Alawite-shite/pro-regime Sunni areas of Hama or Homs IT WILL FORCE regime to divert troops away from other regime areas (much like the diversionary offensive on Quryatayn did for the Daeesh offensive against Palmyra) and in weaken those areas instead.

  2. To those rebels who applied my suggestion of booby-trapping fridges/washing-machines with IEDs might I also recommend the following? Find an area close (not too close so can be watched) to the front-line then tie that regime fighter/officer you have to a lamppost or some visible public place (e.g. on top of a building in a cage), gag and blind him (with cloth of course) then place land-mines around him (or if they on top of a building that booby-trap that building with an IED) and then place a concealed sniper on one of the buildings nearby then leak the news to regime fighters and wait for enough (around 12 would do) of a regime rescue squad to arrive so havoc (ie triggered land-mines when regime troops come close and your sniper team can target them) can be caused. Do this with multiple captured (rebels have plenty such prisoners in their jails) IRGC/Hezbollah/Republican-Guards officers, if those prisoner are senior regime officers then make your ambush even bigger by having the news of captured regime officer leaked to multiple nearby shiite regime groups (so more militia men come to rescue) and instead of using a concealed sniper use a concealed TOWie team (so can pick-off 20/30 Assadists with one TOWie shot rather then 3 or 4 by sniper) instead.

  3. Scott Lucas says: “Despite the nominal ceasefire, the pro-Assad offensive has been trying to take more opposition territory.” This is correct. Yesterday (8 Jan), AlMasdarNews reported from a Syrian army source, “the Syrian Arab Army’s 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard broke-through Jaysh Al-Islam’s primary defenses at Hazrama and entered this town for THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS…. The Syrian Army officer also informed Al-Masdar News that the 105th Brigade has seized more than 70 percent of Hazrama today [Sunday].” .

    On 2 Jan 2017 the pro-govt news outlet SyrianPerspective reported: “Syrian army is about it break into Hazraamaa in Damascus”.

    Hazrama is on the eastern edge of rebel-held East Ghouta and was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, who was a party to the ceasefire agreement. Info about fighting today (Monday) at Hazrama is at AND AND a map of the Hazrama area is at .

    As linked by Scott Lucas above, “Two commanders of the Syrian Revolutionary factions who signed the ceasefire agreement in Syria had announced [yesterday or today] the end of their commitment to the truce because Assad’s forces… continuing attacks… in the eastern Ghouta.”

    So, the ceasefire is over. There’s no point in complaints that the other party is violating a ceasefire. The warring parties will fight and not fight as they see fit.

    The scheduled meeting at Astana can go ahead, and it may happen, but it can achieve very little or nothing.

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