Rif Dimashq offensive (April–May 2016)

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Rif Dimashq offensive (April–May 2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
Rif Damashq.svg
Battle map of Damascus as of late May 2016
Date 25 April –19 May 2016
(3 weeks and 3 days)
Location Eastern Ghouta, Rif Dimashq Governorate, Syria
Result Major Syrian Army/Hezbollah victory
Territorial
changes
  • Army and Hezbollah capture the southern section of the rebel-held East Ghouta,[1] including the rebel strongholds of Deir al-Asafir and Zabdin[2]
Belligerents

Syrian Arab Republic

Emblem of the Palestine Liberation Army.svg Palestine Liberation Army

Hezbollah

Islamic Front
Free Syrian Army

Al-Nusra Front
Units involved

23x15px Syrian Army

Islamic Front

Free Syrian Army

The Rif Dimashq offensive (April–May 2016) was a Syrian Army offensive, in the Rif Dimashq Governorate, that was launched in late April 2016, as part of the Syrian Civil War. The offensive resulted in the military's capture of the southern section of the rebel-held East Ghouta,[1] as government forces exploited concurrent large-scale rebel infighting in East Ghouta that left around 500 rebels dead.[3]

The offensive

On the evening of 25 April, government forces captured the entire Bala Al-Kadhima region, approaching the villages of Harasta Al-Qantara and Hawsh Jarabo. With this, the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta pocket, east of Damascus, was almost split in two and the rebels in Deir Al-‘Assafir and Zibdeen were close to being cut off.[4][5]

On 29 April, the Army launched its second phase of the offensive, with an attack on Rukabiyah, seizing the southern part of the village within an hour.[6] By the end of the day, the village was mostly secured.[7][8] Shortly after, a 24-hour ceasefire was agreed upon in the area, with government troops receiving orders to withdraw from Rukabiyah.[9] The next evening, the offensive restarted and the military once again entered Rukabiyah, taking 80 percent of the village.[10] On 1 May, the military completely secured Rukabiyah,[11][12] after which the ceasefire was renewed for another 24 hours.[13]

Following the capture of Rukabiyah, the third planned phase of the offensive envisioned an assault against the rebel stronghold of Deir al-Asafir.[14] On 8 May, government forces captured parts of the town of Zabdin.[15][16]

On 11 May, government troops advanced from Rukabiyah and captured its farms.[17] The next day, they launched a push, from the areas they had taken control of since the start of the offensive, towards Deir al-Asafir and into the parts of Zabdin that were still rebel-controlled,[18] taking the village of Nolah, as well as positions near the Deir al-Asafir farms.[19][20][21] The Army also reportedly seized Zabdin's mosque.[22]

On 14 May, the Army and Hezbollah reportedly reached Deir al-Asafir[23] and imposed fire control over the town, after they seized the village of Hawsh Al-Khatib.[24] Shelling of Deir al-Asafir started on 17 May.[21]

On 17 May, government forces took control of the Bazinah farms and half of the village of Bazinah.[25] The next day, the rebels recaptured positions in Bazinah they had lost the previous day,[26] however, several hours later the military took full control of the village.[27][28]

On the morning of 19 May, government forces took full control of Deir al-Asafir and shortly after entered[29] the northeastern part of Zabdin, advancing to within 250 south of the Bala Air Defense Battalion base.[30] Elsewhere, the Army made other rapid advances, capturing two villages, as rebel defenses collapsed.[31] By the end of the day, Zabdin was captured[32] and the Army and Hezbollah cleared the whole southern section of East Ghouta,[1][3][33] which represented some 20 percent of the rebel-held East Ghouta pocket.[34]

With the success of the offensive, government troops were in control of most of the agricultural Marj region, which had been the biggest agricultural storehouse for East Ghouta. Due to this, some speculated that people inside the rebel-held East Ghouta pocket would starve and that the blockade would intensify.[35] Hundreds of families were displaced from the valuable farmland, that nourished residents trapped in the blockaded area, as government forces advanced.[36]

Following the capture of the area, the Army discovered a large network of tunnels connecting different villages and towns that contained large amounts of weapons, ammunition, medical supplies and communication equipment.[37]

Aftermath

On 20 May, the rebels recaptured Harasta Al-Qantara, as well as the nearby Bazinah farms.[38] It was later reported the rebels were pushed out of the Bazinah farms,[39] while on 21 May, the military launched an assault against Harasta Al-Qantara[40] and reportedly recaptured its farms while fighting in the village continued.[41]

On the evening of 28 May, the 416th Regiment of the Republican Guard, along with Hezbollah and the PLA, attacked the villages of Al-Bahariyah and Al-Nashabiyah, in another region of East Ghouta. During the assault, government forces broke through the rebel defense line south of Al-Nashabiyah, crossing the Barada River, and entered the village as the rebels withdrew to the village center. Meanwhile, government troops advanced on the eastern axis towards Al-Bahariyah's center.[42][43] Two days later, the military crossed the river at another point west of Al-Nashabiyah, seizing the Military Airbase Construction Battalion at Beit Na’em village.[44] Later that evening, they entered the village itself and broke through the first line of defense at nearby Al-Muhammadiyah, breaching the central region of East Ghouta for the first time since 2012.[45]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Regime forces take complete control on the southern section of the eastern Ghouta". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 19 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Zen Adra (19 May 2016). "Field Report: SAA tightens grip on Eastern Ghouta. Map Update". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 20 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Syrian government troops take rebel stronghold near Damascus". Washington Post. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Leith Fadel. "Rebels in serious trouble as Syrian Army prepares to split the East Ghouta pocket". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 26 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. khaled. "معارك عنيفة في بالا القديمة وقوات النظام تتقدم في المنطقة". المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Leith Fadel (29 April 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army, Hezbollah begin phase 2 of East Ghouta offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Leith Fadel (29 April 2016). "Hezbollah, Syrian Army capture several sites in the East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Qasion News Agency". Retrieved 30 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Leith Fadel (30 April 2016). "Ceasefire officially begins in Latakia, Damascus". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 30 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Leith Fadel (30 April 2016). "Syrian Army, Hezbollah resume offensive in East Ghouta after ceasefire expires". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 3 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Chris Tomson (1 May 2016). "Breaking: Syrian Army captures al-Rukabiyah village in eastern Damascus". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 3 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Edward. "Violent clashes renewed in al-Rakkabiyyeh area in the Eastern Ghouta and regime's helicopters bomb Khan al-Shih". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 3 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  18. Chris Tomson (11 May 2016). "Syrian Army storms two major towns in eastern Damascus - Map update". Al-Masdar News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Leith Fadel (13 May 2016). "Syrian Army, Hezbollah capture Nolah village in the East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Qasion News Agency - Regime seize over new sites in south of eastern Ghouta".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Qasion News Agency - Regime Seize Over Nola And Begins To Raids Deir Asafir … Opposition Fighting Between Each Other". Retrieved 19 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  25. Chris Tomson (18 May 2016). "Rebel defenses in East Ghouta collapse amid Syrian Army offensive - Map update". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 19 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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