Quneitra rebels
take strategic hilltop

Tel Ahmar protects newly captured positions and isolates territory held by regime troops

Rebel fighters storm Tel Ahmar

BEIRUT – Rebel factions fighting to open a supply route through south western Syria’s Quneitra province seized a strategic hilltop over the weekend, after several other advances in the area over the past week.


“Islamist factions have been able to advance and take control over the Tel Ahmar area,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday morning.


“Two fighters from Islamist factions were killed in the ongoing fighting with regime forces and allied militants in the northern section of rural Quneitra.”


“A regime forces colonel, who was the commanding officer at the position in the town of Al-Baath and the commander of operations at Tel Ahmar, was also killed.”


In a later report the monitoring NGO said the commander of a rebel faction had been killed and that the Syrian air force was carrying out intensive raids on rebel held positions in the area.

A further report published Monday morning said fighting in the area had continued past Sunday midnight in to the early hours.


Since the launch of the Bring Good Tidings to the Patient battle on September 25, allied rebel factions have notched a series of advances in their campaign to open a supply route through Syria’s Quneitra province to Damascus’s western Ghouta area.


By September 30, allied rebel brigades had taken control of the Amal Farms checkpoint and the Trinjeh Company military base in what they said was the battle’s first phase.


Phase two


In a report released late Sunday, anti-Damascus station Orient TV, said the rebels had advanced quickly and seized arms and ammunition from the Tel Ahmar position.


“During the first hours after the rebels launched the second phase of the Bring Good Tidings to the Patient battle in the southern region the factions were able to take control of Tel Ahmar,” Orient TV announced late on Sunday.


“They are now on the outskirts of the Brigade 90 base.”


A rebel fighter told the outlet that after fierce engagements his group had been able to seize valuable spoils.


“Praise be to God Tel Ahmar was liberated after fierce fighting with the regime.”


“Among the spoils there were three tanks, two 75mm artillery canons and a 23mm artillery cannon as well as ammunition praise be to God, the regime had prepared Tel Ahmar [well].”


“[The base] is opposite Israel,” he explained. “It’s 3 kilometers away from the border.”


In turn, state controlled Syrian newspaper Al-Watan said that the rebels were preparing for a new attack after having taken Tel Ahmar with help from Israel.


After noting the names of several Islamist fighters killed in fighting in the area, including a commander from Ahrar al-Sham, the paper alleged that weapons were being funneled to the rebel group via Israeli held territory.


“The terrorist [group] Ahrar al-Sham, which embraces the Wahhabi takfiri ideology, is receiving funding and advanced weaponry from the Saudi regime via Israeli territory,” the report claimed.


The report also said that Ahrar al-Sham was receiving “logistical and intelligence support from the Israeli entity.”


“Activists have revealed that what is termed the ‘Syrian Revolutionaries Front’… is preparing for the third phase of the battle it launched [several] days ago under the title ‘Bring Good Tidings to the Patient,’” the daily added.


“Their militants are preparing to start the third phase after taking control, with the support of the Israeli enemy, of the Fourth Company Base and the Amal Farms, and then Tel Ahmar yesterday.”


Strategic importance of Tel Ahmar


The spokesperson for the Saif al-Sham Brigades, one of the allied rebel groups fighting in the area, told Qatari-owned Alaraby Aljadeed that the capture of Tel Ahmar was important for several reasons.


“The importance of controlling Tel Ahmar lies in the besiegement of the Quneitra town of Al-Baath, prevention of movement by regime forces inside the town and prevention of supplies reaching them,” Abu Ghaith al-Shami said.


“Additionally, defense has been secured for the liberated Trinjeh Company base and Amal Farms which we took control of.”


Tel Ahmar “was a base containing regime artillery and tanks that were shelling liberated villages in Quneitra and our positions in the battle,” he explained.


Rebel offensives aiming to link Quneitra with Damascus’s western Ghouta area were launched as early as June, but as Alaraby Aljadeed’s report pointed out “as soon as the confrontations achieved a tangible advance they dropped off somewhat.”


According to the daily, this was due to “the strength of regime fortifications and firepower in those areas, not to mention its intensified use of the air force.”

Rebel fighters take part in the storming of Tel Ahmar. (Youtube/Syrian Revolutionaries Front)

The importance of controlling Tel Ahmar lies in the besiegement of the Quneitra town of Al-Baath, prevention of movement by regime forces inside the town and prevention of supplies reaching them.