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Rebels aim for Damascus
defensive line

Daraa insurgents are aiming to seize two towns outside Sanamayn, a key regime fortification linking the south to the country's capital.

T-72 tank. (YouTube/FSA First Army)
FSA outside Jadieh. (YouTube/FSA First Army)
T-55 tank outside Jadieh. (YouTube/FSA First Army)

BEIRUT – Daraa rebels have pressed an offensive outside Sanamayn, one of the regime’s major lines of defense on the road linking the southern province to Damascus.

 

Clashes raged Thursday outside Kafr Shams after rebels seized the town—which lies approximately 9 kilometers northwest of Sanamayn—on Tuesday in the latest rebel success in southern Syria.  

 

“Fighting continued between Islamist battalions, including the Al-Nusra Front, on one hand and pro-regime forces on the other hand in the vicinity of Kafr Shams and Jadieh,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

 

The capture of Kafr Shams presents rebels with a strategic opportunity to strike southward toward a regime base in nearby Qita as well as the town of Jadieh, outside Sanamayn, which hosts one of the regime’s most reinforced military points south of Damascus.

 

As the rebels claimed victory in Kafr Shams, they also announced Tuesday that they were launching an offensive on Jadieh. A member of the FSA’s First Army media office announced that “the goal of the battle was to liberate Jadieh and its military base on the main Daraa-Damascus highway.”

 

“On the rebel front, FSA battalions belonging to the Southern Front formation are taking part in the battle,” Maher al-Ali told the pro-opposition All4Syria news outlet.

 

Videos circulating social media on Wednesday purported to show elements of the FSA’s First Army operating outside Jadieh, with the rebels showcasing T-55 and T-72 tanks as well as assorted anti-aircraft and heavy machine guns.

 

Amid the new rebel offensive, hundreds of Hezbollah and Abu al-Fadl Abbas Brigade fighters were deployed to the Syrian Army’s 9th Division base in Sanamayn to bolster the regime’s defense of nearby Qita and Jadieh, according to a report by Dubai-based Al Aan TV.

 

The Southern Front’s offensive in northern areas of the province come after rebels seized the regime’s last crossing with Jordan south of the provincial capital Daraa on April 2 and two weeks after the southern town of Bosra al-Sham fell in to the insurgents’ hands.

 

The rebel gains follow the February launch of a campaign reportedly led by Iran and Hezbollah to seize a triangle of territory stretching from the southern outskirts of Damascus down to Quneitra in the southwest and Daraa in the southeast.

 

However, the regime’s offensive has stalled and control of Sanamayn, which lies 50 kilometers south of Damascus, would carry great importance for the rebels because the town serves as one of the regime’s last defensive lines south of the capital.  

 

The chief of the Southern Front’s press office stressed the importance of Sanamayn, telling Al-Modon in a February 12th interview that the regime’s offensive in southern Syria aimed to prevent the opposition from taking control of the town.

 

The regime has deployed its 9th Armored Division in Sanamayn and the 7th Armored Division nearby, while the 1st Armored Division operates in the town of Kisweh 35 kilometers north of Sanamayn.

A video purports to show the FSA First Army firing on regime positions with a T-72 tank. (YouTube/FSA First Army)

The goal of the battle was to liberate Jadieh and its military base on the main Daraa-Damascus highway.