DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:50 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) capitalized on recent gains in the Al-Qaboun district by attacking the Damascus suburb from its eastern flank, seizing multiple new sites in the process.
Amid fierce urban warfare, the 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division and 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard captured a handful of buildings just east of the Al-Qaboun Electric Grid Station on Sunday afternoon while Islamist fighters retreated towards rearguard positions in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, rebels claimed to have conducted a counter-attack, retaking some points lost to the SAA. However, upon enquiring with a source close to Al-Masdar News, it was revealed that a infiltration unit of Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham militants had indeed tried to sneak into a government-held checkpoint, but was spotted and pulled back under a barrage of gunfire.
According to an AMN source based in Damascus, around 200 rebel fighters of HTS (Syrian Al-Qaeda branch) and various Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have been killed since the SAA began its operations in and around Al-Qaboun last month.
Given the current rate of advance, Syrian government forces are expected to impose full control over the Al-Qaboun district within a few weeks. Once this task is accomplished, the SAA will turn its attention to the neighboring rebel-held Barzeh neighborhood.
This SAA offensive is masterminded by Brigadier General Ali Mahmoud and Colonel Ghayath Galla; these prominent army commanders will later spearhead another offensive to defeat rebel forces at the East Ghouta pocket, thus securing the Syrian capital.
The 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division is considered one of the most elite wings of the Syrian military. Formerly, this faction was led personally by Maher Al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.