Syria: Opposition’s Booby Trap Blueprint for Qusayr

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on 22 May 2013 shows a soldier of the Syrian government forces pointing his weapon from a trench as he secures the army's positions in the city of al-Hamidiyeh near Qusayr in Homs province. (Photo: AFP - SANA)

By: Radwan Mortada

Published Thursday, May 23, 2013

Syrian opposition fighters fortressed in the Syrian town of Qusayr move about freely. From their hideouts, they operate electrical generators and satellite communications devices to connect with militant groups outside the town, requesting assistance or touching base with the media.

Along with their requests, they upload videos documenting the clashes and send images of the battlefield. These could be photos, exclusive videos, or interviews with field commanders who speak of "young men's morale as big as a mountain" and "major losses inflicted on the attackers." They deny all news about the Syrian army and Hezbollah “controlling more than two-thirds of Qusayr."

As for the images broadcast by television channels, a fighter tells Al-Akhbar via Skype that "the army has been in control of the eastern neighborhood for two years." He describes "heavy bombardment around the clock” and explains that "most martyrs fall due to the shelling." However, he denies news about the adversary's advances in the city.

The same fighter reveals that the clashes are taking place on nine fronts, the most significant being al-Mashtal checkpoint, Samir Raad checkpoint, al-Dabaa village, al-Basatin area, the agricultural bank checkpoint, and a new front that just began in the village of Heet.

As for the situation on the ground in Qusayr yesterday, he indicates the fall of "four martyrs from the rebels and a civilian martyr, in addition to dozens of injuries due to the shelling."

In the same context, armed Syrian opposition sources announce to Al-Akhbar the “creation of a military council including all the commanders of the groups fighting in Qusayr." They reveal that the head of the military council is Lieutenant Colonel Mohieddin al-Zain, AKA Abu Arab, and will include several field commanders, including al-Farouq Brigade's chief, Abu Ali. Recently, Abu Ali appeared speaking to a camera over the body of a Hezbollah fighter.

Another prominent leader is Abul-Baraa, who leads a group of al-Nusra Front fighters. Opposition sources also mention that several al-Qaeda inspired Islamists managed to join the groups fighting in Qusayr through the Syrian section of the Qalamoun mountains located south of the town. They chose Abul-Baraa as their Emir and are fighting under his banner.

The aforementioned "emir" says, "The battle will be long and Qusayr is completely booby-trapped and will turn into a ball of fire as soon as Nasrallah's men step inside." He concludes, "We succeeded in luring Hezbollah's fighters and Assad's army to where we wanted."

He explains that everything in the neighborhoods, from houses, tunnels, and holes, are booby trapped. Abul-Baraa adds that they had set up four defense lines made of minefields around the city.

"The regime's army and the party's fighters called in explosives experts to dismantle the first line, then the second, then the third. While they were busy with the fourth, we pounced on them," he says.

Concerning the living conditions in the town, the fighters maintain that electricity had been cut off since before the latest battles. Water was "also cut off from the city." Internet is accessed through global satellites and mobile networks "like Inmarsat and BGAN," which is the Broadband Global Area Network.

They also mention a serious lack of medical supplies and ammunition, revealing that the field hospital “has been completely destroyed, so we have to carry the injured on our shoulders to be treated inside homes."

On the other side of the battle, sources informed of the military operations against Qusayr tell Al-Akhbar that "booby trapped trenches and tunnels hindered the progress of the attacking units."

The same sources maintain that "the fighters are operating sophisticated sniper guns by remote control." The sniper is able to hide somewhere and monitor targets over a video screen.

In a preliminary evaluation of military operations, the sources stress that "there have been ground achievements" and that "only a few days are between us and the eradication of the armed groups."

While some information points to an attempt to end the battle before Hassan Nasrallah's speech on Saturday, other information reveals that more time is needed.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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