FSA coalition launches new
south Syria offensive

The Southern Front is seeking to seize the Jidyah base.

Southern Front rebels outside Jidyah. (YouTube/Mujahideen of Howran)

BEIRUT – The Free Syrian Army-aligned Southern Front coalition has launched a new offensive to seize a base in the Daraa province near Sanamayn, one of the regime’s major lines of defense on the road linking the southern province to Damascus.


A collection of 12 rebel factions in southern Syria announced Thursday the beginning of a joint-operation to capture the artillery base in Jidyah, from where government forces regularly shell rebel positions outside Sanamayn.


“To honor the blood of the Syrian revolution’s martyrs and recognize the sacrifices of our great Syrian people, the main operations room has decided, after putting its faith in God, to begin the battle to liberate Jidyah,” a statement by the allied factions in the Southern Front announced.


According to the statement, the military operation in northwestern Daraa province aims to “strike the strongholds of Assad’s gangs and militias.”


The statement went on to list the 12 factions officially involved in the attack: Tawareesh First Special Missions Brigade, Descendants of Omar Ibn al-Khattab Brigade, Al-Fatah al-Mubeen Brigade, Lions of Islam Brigade, Tawhid Brigade Houran Battalions, Mourabitoun Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division, Jaydour Houran Brigade, Inkhil Martyrs Brigade, Ahrar Inkhil Brigade, Aal al-Bayt Brigade, and Al-Jiza Revolutionaries Coalition.


Regime forces in Jidyah have successfully repulsed rebel attacks in the past, including in April after the Southern Front made advances around the nearby town of Kafr Shams.


The Southern Front in recent months has been hit by a number of setbacks, with its offensive to seize Daraa city grinding to a halt while reports emerged that it has lost support from foreign states that previously backed it.


On September 6, Al-Quds al-Arabi said that the US-run Military Operation Center (MOC) based in Jordan had “stopped all financial assistance to the Southern Front for the moment after it failed to take control of Daraa.”


The MOC, which is said to be directed by the CIA and a number of Washington’s allies in the region, had been supporting and supervising the FSA-affiliated Southern Front’s campaign in the Daraa province, according to reports.


Southern Front escalates fighting


Following the announcement of the new offensive, activist media outlets began to report heated fighting in the area around Sanamayn, which hosts one of the regime’s most reinforced military points south of Damascus.


At around mid-day, the pro-rebel outlet SMO – which was embedded with the Southern Front during its failed offensive in Daraa earlier in the year – reported that the new rebel grouping had destroyed a regime tank with an anti-armor rocket.


In a one-line news item published a few hours earlier the outlet’s correspondent said that “the Southern Front’s formations” had “escalated their offensive campaign on… gatherings of the regime’s forces and its mercenaries in the town of Sanamayn and the village of Jidyah with heavy artillery and rocket launchers.”


In another earlier report the outlet said that “the Free Syrian Army” had destroyed “a 57mm artillery gun on the earth embankments of the regime’s Jidyah base.”


Another pro-rebel outlet, Step News Agency, also reported on the launch of the new operation, saying that rebels had targeted the Jidyah base with “heavy artillery and rocket launchers, achieving direct hits.”


Attempts to take Jidyah


On March 25, Southern Front rebels announced an operation to capture the village of Jidyah and the nearby artillery base as part of their attempt, at the time, to take control of all of southern Syria.


However, the fighting soon wound down. On March 28, Step Agency reported that the offensive – which it said was being led in the area by the Al-Nusra Front – had not achieved the goal of taking Jidyah.

According to the report, this prompted residents of the nearby Kafr Shams to call on the rebels to halt attacks on their village.


On April 6, the Southern Front launched another bid to capture Jidyah, in which it reportedly managed to shoot down a regime warplane. However, the rebel alliance failed once again to capture the base and 27 fighters were killed in the area over the next few days.

After this, multiple reports mentioned artillery and mortar shelling from the base on areas of rebel control, including the strategic Tel al-Harah mountaintop overlooking territory in the Quneitra and Daraa provinces. 

Southern Front rebels outside Jidyah. (YouTube/Mujahideen of Howran)

The Southern Front’s formations had escalated their offensive campaign on… gatherings of the regime’s forces and its mercenaries in the town of Sanamayn and the village of Jidyah with heavy artillery and rocket launchers.