Syrian Army Makes Headway in Damascus and Homs

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Rebel fighters duck as they run behind a barricade to avoid being fired at by Syrian regime forces in the Old City's front line in Aleppo on 18 September 2013. (Photo: Jm Lopez)

By: Marah Mashi

Published Thursday, September 19, 2013

Despite threats of an attack on Syria by Washington, the Syrian army successfully pressed on with its operation in the Ghouta area around Damascus.

Damascus – The capture of Deir Salman and Shebaa in the eastern Ghouta of Damascus by the Syrian armed forces represents a turning point in the battles underway to the south and east of the capital.

The two towns held strategic importance for the opposition, allowing them to run supplies to their forces deep in the eastern Ghouta, which posed a direct threat to the regime’s hold on Damascus, with Shebaa directly overlooking the main highway connecting the capital to the international airport.

The army decided to move on Shebaa after rumors circulated that opposition brigades stationed in the town were planning an attack on army checkpoints protecting the airport road, as a response to the army’s takeover of Deir Salman.

A Syrian army officer who had reached Shebaa reports that military operations in the area continued without interruption throughout the last few days, even during the height of the international crisis and the threat of a US attack that were sparked by the August 21 chemical attack in the eastern Ghouta.

Military analysts in Damascus are noticing that the opposition is increasingly resorting to almost suicidal attacks, which are being launched without calculation as to their cost. Some attribute this to the series of setbacks they have suffered, particularly around Damascus, causing them to make rash decisions in the process.

The confrontations underway to the east of Homs are but one example of how opposition forces have failed to carefully consider their military strategy. There they decided to move against the loyalist and confessionally mixed town of Maksar al-Hisan, prompting regime forces stationed in the town to launch a counterattack that succeed in re-claiming six villages that had previously been under opposition control.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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