Groups of Syrian rebels launched surprise attacks outside of Damascus on Sunday. These attacks were by regime forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Syrian state media reported. According to SOHR Director Rami Abdel Rahman, Damascus has not been attacked in months. The attacks began in the Jobar district in northeastern Damascus. The Jobar district is an area both sides have fought over for some time.
The Syrian Civil War came from the growing discontent with President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian government and has since escalated to more and more violent protests and fights between the rebels and government forces. Several forces are fighting the war, including the Syrian government and its allies and several opposition groups that formed the Free Syrian Army. Several groups in the opposition broke off to form factions of their own which include an Islamist vision for the country. Russia and Hezbollah military also fought in the war while a NATO coalition began airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Syria or the Syrian Arab Republic is a country in western Asia that borders Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Damascus is the largest city and capital of Syria. The country is home to a diverse ethnic and religious groups including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Kurds, Turks, Sunnis, Christians, Druze, Shiites, and Yazidis. Arabic is the official language while most of the people practice Islam and ten percent are Christians.
According to WTAE, the rebel factions were prepared for the surprise offensive in Damascus. Since the start of the war, the ruling regime and allies held Damascus “tightly,” with only a few places around the capital in control of the opposition. Ahrar al-Sham and the Jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham led the assault on the capital. According to the Syrian state media, the Syrian forces fought back an attack by opposition forces who had “used tunnels to attack government positions.”
To date, there was no word on casualties in the city. WTAE reported that the surprise attack is the latest in a series of suicide bombings to hit Damascus in March. CNN said that the group took advantage of the Syrian regime’s “overstretched” forces. Conflicting reports from Damascus are stating that both sides had claimed the Jobar district.
Andrew Tabler, representing the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told CNN that the regime is down to around 18,000 in manpower they can deploy and and they are being pushed by Iran and Russia to go and fight for Raqqa. Raqqa is a city located in northern Syria while Damascus is located in southern part of the country. This battle for Raqqa let the “rebels to advance” on Damascus. Reuters reported that other rebel factions were sending reinforcements to Jobar to “help rebels maintain the momentum of the assault.”
By Cheryl Werber