BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:05 P.M.) – By far the pro-government offensive, led by the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Republican Guard, to pinch out the militant-held bastion of Jobar is the largest of all the Rif Dimashq operations.
The expenditure of heavy firepower munitions by both sides is immense and some battle-related sound – be it the roar of jets on low-level attack runs, the whine of incoming artillery or the crack of gunfire – is constantly in the air.
For the rebels, the only real strategy for rebuffing pro-government attacks is centered on inflicting the highest possible number of losses on Syrian Army manpower and heavy equipment. To this end, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), high-powered sniper rifles and heavy machine gun positions buried behind one meter of concrete are key assets, if not the only available means.
In particular, the Faylaq al-Rahman Islamist faction, who is currently absorbing the brunt of this offensive, has been uploading footage on a daily basis of its attacks on Syrian Army armor. Some attacks succeed, others do not.
On the Syrian Army side, additional reserve forces have been thrown into battle in the face of a defensive belt held by Islamist militias which seems to crack a little bit in some areas, but never quite break – at least so far.
The key fire support assets of the pro-government forces include large-ordinance mortars, tanks, area-clearing mine-thrower systems and, of course, airpower.
Whilst the firepower advantage held by pro-government forces is considerable, it is nonetheless challenged – an in some ways negated – by a defensive network used by militants, and refined constantly over the years, which see them fight from heavily hidden positions and relocate their forces and supplies underground.
Some observers of the battle claim that despite the intimidating ferocity of the rebels’ forward defense, they actually have no operational depth. In other words, if a decisive breakthrough is achieved by the Syrian Army, then there will be no fallback lines for the Islamist militias and their overall position in and around Jobar will collapse quickly.