Syrian army moves to secure South Damascus

Attack and retreat operations between the Syrian army forces and armed factions across the Syrian territories are continuing.

al-monitor Smoke rises from what activists said was a military position for forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on the eastern mountains of Qalamoun overlooking the town of Douma, Damascus, Sept. 13, 2015.  Photo by REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh.

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syrian conflict, latakia, jabhat al-nusra, is, homs, hasakah, hama, damascus

Nov 13, 2015

Despite the violent attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and several factions on the axes of the Syrian army operations south of the city of Aleppo, the Syrian army and its supporting factions continued their advance on the southern axis of the city as part of the plan to secure the south and reach the Damascus road.

A military source said, “The Damascus road has started looming on the horizon”; meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) continued to mobilize forces in eastern regions in preparation for expected attacks aimed at distracting the Syrian army operations on the eastern axis, which came close to breaking the siege of the Kweiris military airport.

In the southern countryside of Aleppo, the Syrian army managed to contain the momentum of the attack against its sites in al-Sabeqiya triangle (formed by several contiguous villages south of Aleppo — al-Sabeqiya, Um al-Sarou and al-Qarasi) by Jabhat al-Nusra and other factions, notably Jaish al-Mujahideen. The Syrian army deterred the attack and took back several points it had recently lost. It fortified its positions and took control of several villages and towns in the southern countryside, which brought it closer to Damascus road in the southwest of the city, and it reinforced the fortification of Khanasser road currently representing the only line of supply for the city of Aleppo.

A field source told As-Safir that the Syrian army forces managed, after fierce battles against Jabhat al-Nusra militants with the support of air and artillery forces, to break the momentum of the attack that Jabhat al-Nusra had launched to stop the Syrian army operations and break the unity of the forces deployed in the southern countryside.

The source added that the Syrian army was able during its recent operation to turn the tables on Jabhat al-Nusra and keep going forward across these axes.

For his part, [another] military source announced that the Syrian army forces seized control of the villages of Tel Mamo and Azizieh Semaan, Tleilat and Zrawi south of al-Hader, explaining that these villages are close to the Aleppo-Damascus international highway.

On the eastern axis of the city, local sources said that IS started mobilizing its armed men in the villages of al-Bab and Tadef, in what seems to be a preparation to launch attacks on the sites of the Syrian army, including the industrial city in Sheikh Najjar, which was attacked few days ago when IS militants took over Talat al-Taanah, which was recovered by the Syrian army after less than 24 hours.

Local sources also stated that while IS mobilized its troops in the villages of al-Bab in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, warplanes launched raids on al-Bab city and its surroundings and targeted IS militants centers. However, opposition sources said about 10 people were killed by the airstrikes. There are no accurate numbers on the losses in the ranks of IS, which usually keeps its silence on this type of information.

The Syrian army also reinforced its position in the areas it had managed to control in the northern countryside of Latakia, namely the town of Ghamam, so as to prevent any attempt on the part of armed factions to storm into the town, as happened five days ago, when they managed to regain control of the town after the army had seized it.

According to a field source, the Syrian army has strengthened its position in the town of Ghamam and its surrounding mountains and took control of the strategic Bakdash Mountain. The source stressed that the town of Ghamam helps monitor the Rabia road, and it is seen as the most prominent stronghold of armed factions firing rockets reaching the city of Latakia in the last period.

The Syrian forces also stormed into the villages of Daghmashliya and Deir Hanna without being able to hold sway there, as fierce battles have been taking place in their surroundings, not to mention the attack and retreat operations, as a prelude to announcing the two villages as “friends,” according to a military source.

Meanwhile, the southeastern part of the Homs countryside has been witnessing fierce clashes between the Syrian army and IS militants, as the organization closed in on the city of Sadad after having controlled the town of Mahin a few days earlier.

According to a military source, the Syrian army gained control of the hills near Mahin, which provided further reinforcements to the nearby town of Sadad, while air raids have been intensified on IS sites in this area. The northern part of the city of Homs, however, maintains its status quo following the operation waged by the Syrian army near the town of Al-Dar al-Kabirah after having controlled the village of Dweir.

In Hama’s northern countryside, the town of Ma'an is also witnessing violent clashes, as the Syrian army withdrew from the towns of Asthan and Umm Haratayn to head there, following the violent attack waged by the militant attack. Meanwhile, Russia intensified its air sorties over Murak, Ltamenah and Kafar Zayta.

A field source said that the Syrian army is trying to advance through the Jinan village, southeast of Hama, in an operation aimed at further pressuring the rebel-controlled areas in Talbiseh and Ar-Rastan in the Homs countryside. The Syrian air forces have also heavily raided IS strongholds in the eastern Hama countryside.

In Hasakah, to the east, Kurdish units controlled the old highway in Al-Shaddadi city, linking the city of Hasakah to its southern countryside. The Kurdish units also took control of the villages of Rajam al-Siran and Tel Sirin, south of the city of Hasakah, under the air cover of the US-led coalition, which decided to send further military mobilizations, after having already sent about 50 tons of weapons. The Kurdish units are locked in fierce fighting in the surrounding of the town of Al-Hool near the Iraqi border.

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