On 14 November 2017, Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Rahman, and Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), began an offensive against a Syrian Army vehicle base east of Damascus. The base is located in a wedge of government-controlled territory between the rebel-controlled cities of Harasta and Irbin. Yesterday’s was the first major attempt by the rebels to seize the base since August 2015.
The attack was initiated with an HTS SBVIED. It then proceeded from two points – Ahrar al-Sham attacked from their stronghold of Harasta and Faylaq al-Rahman attacked from Madyara.
The close cooperation between Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman is interesting considering the major clashes that took place in Irbin between the two groups in early August. Those clashes followed months of hostility that began in May when Rahman attacked Ahrar buildings in Irbin. They ended on 9 August with a truce agreement. The current offensive is indicative of rapprochement between the former foes. The relationship between Rahman and Douma-based Jaysh al-Islam (JaI) remains strongly adversarial, with JaI releasing a statement just a week ago condeminging Rahman and HTS. Ahrar was not mentioned in the statement, demonstrating that JaI still considers Ahrar an ally in spite of Ahrar’s improved relations with Rahman.
As of now, the base has not fallen, but government forces have taken significant losses and have not yet recovered lost positions.
A total of 12 pro-government fatalities have been identified via social media. It is likely that the true number is higher, as six more deaths were reported today (15 November) and some fatalities are never reported.
Note: a few reports state Mr. Balul was actually killed in the Beit Jinn area, but most claim Harasta.
ٌRebel casualties have not been reported but are believed to be heavy.
A full-sized version of the above map, which was created using Google Maps, can be found here.