Terrorists Launched an Offensive Near Damascus – a Timid Attempt to Confront the Peace Process on Syria

Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists launched a surprise and powerful assault on government forces in the eastern suburb of Damascus on May 19, trying to break into the area of Al-Abbasin near Jobar. The clashes centered on a government-held gap between two besieged opposition enclaves, the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods.

by Sophie Mangal, for The International Reporter:  

The assault began after an attack made by two suicide bombers that attempted to undermine the positions and break through the defense of the Syrian Arab army (SAA). Rebels have detonated two large car bombs at 5:20am on Sunday close to the Jobar neighborhood. Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility for the attack. The Islamists then blew up a bomb of great power, using an underground communication system. The explosion was felt even by the inhabitants of the suburbs of Damascus.

The militants managed to seize a number of buildings and industrial facilities in the western part of Jobar. Some separate units of the government troops were forced to retreat in an attempt to minimize losses and regroup.

Several hundred soldiers were redeployed to recapture the previously abandoned positions in the northern part of the Al-Kabun area. At the moment SAA managed to regain control of most of the objects captured by the terrorists: a power plant, a weaving factory, a part of an industrial district and the Jobar district.

Dozens of Faylaq al-Rahman militants are surrounded after the Government forces conducted a counter-attack near the “Syrionics” area. Syrian Ministry of Defense has already published a video with the militants eliminated. Recent events have shown some individual groups of terrorists are doing their best to disrupt the truce and negotiations in Astana and Geneva.

Historical Background: 

Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham: 
Abdullah al-Muhaysini, Abu Taher Al Hamawi, and Abd ar-Razzaq al-Mahdi worked on the formation of the group. Bilal Abdul Kareem reported on the formation of the new group. Tahrir al Sham stated that it may include the Turkistan Islamic Party in the future. The group received praise from the Gaza-based Salafist jihadist insurgent group Jaysh al-Ummah. The Damascus Umayyad Mosque is represented on the logo. The group is currently establishing an Islamic governing body (Majlis-ash-Shura), or the consultative council (hence the multiple signed documents creating decrees/laws which can be found on official Tahrir al-Sham outlets). The reasoning behind this is that with a governing body, the newly formed group will be able to work together & prevent infighting which had been seen as the cause of tension within the rebel held areas for weeks prior to the formation of the group. On 28 January, the same day that Tahrir al-Sham was born, the group announced the formation of its elite units, the “Inghimasi”, some of whom were deployed in Idlib city. They could also be used for suicide infiltration operations and as assault troops.
Faylaq al-Rahman:
Since the death of Zahran Alloush there have been conflicts between Jaysh al-Islam and other members of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta, along with associated groups such as al-Nusra Front and its Jaish al-Fustat operations room. Ahrar ash-Sham have remained neutral. On 18 February 2016, Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union fighters based in eastern Ghouta announced the “full incorporation” of its fighters into al-Rahman Legion, though reiterating that its fighters based in the western Damascus suburbs of Darayya and Moadammiyyeh as well as in southern Damascus would still operate under the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union banner and were not a part of this merger. On 26 April 2016 the 1st Brigade (then an FSA-affiliated group armed with TOW missiles) left the Southern Front and dissolved into the Legion. On 24 May 2016 leaders of Jaysh al-Islam & al-Rahman Legion met to sign a Qatari-backed deal to end hostilities after the East Ghouta inter-rebel conflict (April–May 2016), supervised by Riyad Farid Hijab. But on 14 June 2016 clashes erupted again, with the al-Rahman Legion taking control of several zones previously held by Jaysh al-Islam in the southern part of Eastern Ghouta. On 21 October 2016, fighters from the al-Rahman Legion opened fire on protesters demanding the formation of a joint military operations room between Jaysh al-Islam and the Rahman Legion. Up to 5,000 people attended the protests throughout eastern Ghouta.[16] Less than a week later, the al-Majd Brigades seceded from the Rahman Legion, making it the 9th rebel group to leave the legion since the start of the war. Previously several of these groups have seceded in order to join the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union and the now defunct Jaysh al-Ummah.

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