Syrian troops backed by Russian jets enter rebel-held southern town — army

By Reuters – Dec 30,2015 – JORDAN TIMES

Youths carry children through a site damaged from what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday (Reuters photo)

BEIRUT — Syrian troops fought their way into a rebel-held town in the southern province of Daraa on Wednesday in an assault which rebels said was supported by the heaviest Russian aerial bombing campaign so far in the south.

Troops were in Sheikh Maskin’s main square and had taken over the eastern and northern neighbourhoods of the town which lies on a major supply route from the Syrian capital, Damascus, to the city of Daraa, the army said in a statement.

A rebel source confirmed troops had entered parts of the town and said fierce clashes were raging in the eastern neighbourhood known as the Masaken — an area of dozens of apartment buildings that formerly housed top army officers.

A commander in a leading rebel group fighting in the area said the heavy Russian bombing on their posts, where rebels had counted at least 100 raids in the past two days, had been decisive in tipping the balance against the rebels.

“This is the heaviest Russian bombing on the side of the regime in Deraa and without it the army, which faces manpower shortages, would not have made these gains,” said one commander from Jabhat Thuwwar Souria, a group involved in the fighting.

Rebels from an array of groups — some of them backed by Western powers and including the Islamist Muthana group — fought back against the offensive near a former air base north of the town of Sheikh Maskin, insurgents on the ground told Reuters.

The army assault on Sheikh Maskin is part of the government’s first major offensive in southern Syria since Russia joined the fight on September 30 to support its ally President Bashar Assad.

Its recapture would consolidate the army’s hold over the heavily fortified region which has formed a southern line of defence protecting Damascus.

Russia, which did not confirm the strikes and has up to now concentrated on the northwest and coastal areas, has said it is primarily targeting Daesh militants.

Washington and other regional powers have regularly accused it of striking other anti-Assad rebel groups, seen as more moderate, that some in the West hope will form part of a future settlement of the near five-year war.

The army took the Brigade 82 base from the rebels on Tuesday, lost it as bad weather set in, and took it once more overnight with the support of the air strikes, said rebels.

Syria’s army said it had made advances overnight against insurgents who it said were mainly Al Qaeda inspired groups.

Sheikh Maskin, the main goal of the army’s southern campaign, lies on one of the main supply routes from the capital Damascus to the city of Daraa, close to the border with Jordan.

Securing the town would allow the army to press further south in mainly rebel held towns such as Ibtaa, Dael and in Ataman near Daraa city.

Rebels from another mainstream anti-Assad armed opposition alongside some Islamist groups said they shelled army posts in the city of Izraa, a main government held town that has major fortifications and is based to the east of Sheikh Maskin.

Activists and residents say Russian air strikes, in which missiles and bombs are launched from a high altitude, are distinct from Syrian air force strikes which rely more on barrel bombs dropped from helicopters flying at a lesser height.

Rebels still control large parts of the region, that also borders Israel, but have been largely on the defensive since their failed offensive in June to take the government-controlled part of Daraa city.

The south is the last major stronghold of the mainstream, anti-Assad opposition, who have been weakened elsewhere by the expansion of the Daesh terror group in the east and north, and gains by Al Nusra Front in the northwest.

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2 replies

  1. And? How many of the buildings and how much of the infrastructure has been destroyed? 70 or 80 per cent?

    Follow some of Allah’s laws and reject the rest will be punished severely QS 2;85

    Allah has warned in Al Holy Book as following;
    Only Muslim the one can solve this problem through the book of Allah.

    I strongly believe that based on God’s words, that as long as Muslim Scholars (Sunni and Shia) keep hating, and judging each other, there is no a permanent peace in Muslim communities from Indonesia to Negeria.

    Muslim scholars from both side should learn from the conflict between Catholic and protestant 700 years ago. NOW both sects of Christian can live in peace, harmony and dignity. The main key is that both sects have to accept the differences of faith and respect and love each other–LET GOD JUDGE PEOPLE FAITH.—It’s not for us to judge another man’s beliefs.

    Extremist Muslims strongly believe that the book of Hadiths sahih Muslim-Bukhari are the true Hadith. Those who does not believe that the book of Hadith is the true Hadith, will be accused infidel, blasphemy, hypocrite, etc.
    Whereas Allah and Prophet warn his followers in Al Quran;
    Do not believe in man, man can make a big mistake, believe in God’s laws only. QS 7:3-4 QS. 9:31.

    They have taken their priests and their scholars ( as idol ) for their Lords besides God Q S . 9:31, They believe scholar Muslim-Bukhari, fall into sinful syirk., the biggest sin in Islam.

    O humankind,) follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not follow any masters other than Him. 3 Little you heed to advice! (3) How many a town We have destroyed! Our punishment came upon them at night or when they were having a nap at midday. qs 7;3-4.

    we can see now the destruction of many cities in Iraq and Syria. We can not deny the fact.

    All citizen have to obey the existence authority, even you do not like or against your faith you have the right to protest peacefully.

    Everyone must obey the existing authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God.Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered .Roman 13:1-2).
    O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.QS 4;59
    HADITS.Listen and obey your authority, though he struck your back and take your wealth force (Hr Muslim ).

    ( The Existing State authority can be Sunni,Shia,Christian,Jews, Hindu,Atheist etc has to be obeyed. no matter what )

    Those who plot evils ( to topple the authority), theirs will be severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish. QS 35;10.

    GOD CONDEMNS all armed REBELS that will cause destruction, and millions people suffered, homeless and died. That is why Allah condemns any kind of armed rebels ( Sunni,Shia, Christian,Jews etc ).

    Muslim Rebels from Sudan,Somali, Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan, Moro and Chen Chen. These rebels want to create Islamic state and they impose their believe to others. God condemned the state of religion ( Haram ).

    May Allah guide all Leaders in Middle East to the right path of Islam, Amen

    Was Salam
    Wi all my love

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