ROADS TO DAMASCUS | archicivilians
What’s coming up in the summer?
President Assad once said that the Rebellion would end within 2014. Nonetheless; it’s been really noticeable to see 2015 starting with Rebels (Syrian Opposition Forces) advancing from the south all the way to Damascus and taking-over major cities like Sheikh Maskin and Bosra, along with Nassib border crossing (which is considered the most important border crossing in Syria), and ending up controlling around 70% of Daraa province and half of the provincial capital.
A similar situation is also ongoing in the North of Syria, where Rebels ended 2014 by taking-over Wadi al-Dayf military camps and were able to launch offensives during March & April of 2015, taking control of the provincial capital of Idlib province and Jisr ash-Shughur city, forcing Assad forces to flee to Hama and the coastal areas, mainly to Assad strongholds.
However, the situation in Damascus is different, since it is the capital of Syria. Rebels stormed Damascus in 2012 and took-over half of the city and the surrounding areas, mainly through random offensives by many independent Rebel groups. Rebels made a lot of strategic mistakes in their offensive on Damascus in 2012, by controlling the populated areas before securing the supply lines. Assad Regime campaign in 2013 had started in Damascus, by retaking many areas they lost and forced Rebels to sign truce and ceasefire agreements after besieging them all the areas they took inside the city.
Today, fighting abilities and military capacities of these groups have drastically improved; bearing in mind their on-going engagements in well-organized and managed intensive training camps, mingling with other rebel groups, and having been involved in plenty of battles and clashes since 2011; it’s fair to say that their overall military abilities and experience have been progressing day after day.
Some example of these groups:
- The Free Syrian Army Southern Front
- Islamic Front (including Jaysh al-Islam & Ahrar al-Sham)
- Nusra Front (linked to al-Qaeda, with vast majority of its members comprising of Syrians; more than 90%).
It’s becoming apparent that Assad is giving up on efforts to maintain the so called local followers and supporters to continue to be on his side and fight to his favor. The situation is pretty much thought to be so as the field on Assad’s side today is filled with Iranian and Afghan mercenaries along with Hezbollah from Lebanon who have been overly so far the most powerful amongst Assad troops. Furthermore, majority of battles and attacks these days are being led by IRGC (Islamic Republican Guard Corps – Iran) and Hezbollah.
So the question that stands out now, why is Assad losing?
Assad Regime campaign which started in 2013 by re-taking over the areas gained by Rebels in 2012 has just ended. Assad army reached a new stage in this war; lack of fighters with large amounts of arms and ammunition ending up with Rebel’s possession.
The situation in southern Syria is worsening for Assad fighters (the Syrian Arab Army and the National defense forces), since Hezbollah and the IRGC are leading Assad troops and mostly have been fighting instead of them (Afghan fighters from Fatimiyun Brigade which is linked to the IRGC). Recent reports and documentations by the Syrian Opposition indicate hundreds of foreign fighters (linked to Assad) have been killed in Southern Syria front lines since the beginning of 2015. The latest offensives launched by Assad Regime have all failed; Rebels changed the situation of Assad from an offensive to defensive strategy.
Rebels proved their ability to advance and achieve significant wins while fighting with no air-cover unlike Assad army and troops. The small and independent Rebel groups have recently been joining the larger Rebel groups, which played an important role in the Rebel groups new strategic movements and offensives.
Rebels just did a huge military parade near Damascus city in Eastern Ghouta; less than 5 Km from Assad palace, signaling for a huge offensive to be launched soon on Damascus city. An indication that the summer of 2015 will unfold some surprises. This somewhat goes in line with what the Southern Syria Rebels are also promising the Revolution followers for new offensives to take place to advance further until they reach the western and southern sides of the capital.
Worth noting that Southern Syria Rebels have the much more advanced military equipment and weapons compared to Rebels in the surrounding areas of Damascus. This was based on their clear success seizing large amounts of military weapons and ammunition in 2014 and early 2015 during their huge campaign after they took the most important army bases in the South, including Tall al-Harrah, Brigade 61 base, Brigade 82 base, Brigade 112 base and dozens of hills including air-defense bases. Furthermore, Southern Syria Rebels own dozens of the US-made TOW missiles (anti-tank).
“Major changes regarding the situation in and around Damascus will take place in the summer of 2015”, pro-Rebel activists says.