Government forces defeat incursion after being caught off guard on Sunday
SYRIAN government forces re-established full control yesterday of parts of eastern Damascus attacked and captured by terrorist forces after dozens of people were killed on both sides during the fighting.
In a surprise rebel incursion, jihadist fighters infiltrated the city through hidden tunnels and set off car bombs.
The Levant Liberation Committee, a coalition of several jihadist groups led by alQaida’s branch in Syria and the independent Failaq alRahman faction, spearheaded the blitz, which caught the Syrian military off guard.
Insurgent groups have repeatedly tried to break the defences of Damascus in recent years.
Sunday’s incursion, however, was the most serious since 2012, when rebels captured several Damascus neighbourhoods before being crushed by government forces.
The rebel gains, though short-lived, took place against the backdrop of months of steady losses at the hands of government forces across the country.
Sunday’s fighting centred on government-held territory between the Jobar and Qaboun neighbourhoods, two besieged opposition enclaves.
Syrian television quoted an unnamed military official yesterday as reporting that the army had “regained control of all the points that terrorists” had infiltrated the day before.
It also quoted Russia’s ambassador Alexander Kinshchak as saying that one of the embassy’s buildings was hit with a shell during the clashes.
Syrian Central Military Media said that the Syrian air force had carried out more than 25 strikes on Jobar and nearby areas.
Lebanon’s al-Manar television, run by Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, reported that the elite Republican Guard had participated in a counteroffensive against insurgents.
The British-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 26 soldiers and pro-government fighters had been killed, along with 21 jihadists.
Syria’s army officially lifted its siege of the al-Wa’er district of Homs yesterday after jihadist rebels left that area of the city after five years.
Soldiers opened the Engineers Roundabout at the entrance to the district, allowing thousands of civilians there to leave or resume normal life.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia reported that Russian servicemen were training its forces in northern Syria.
Spokesman Redur Khalil said the Russian forces were there “by agreement,” adding that the training mission was a step toward “direct contacts” with Russia.