The long-awaited battle for the Al-Zabadani District of the Rif Dimashq Governorate has begun and the militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham could not be any less prepared for this large-scale assault that features the prestigious 4th Mechanized Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Lebanese resistance force “Hezbollah.”

This large-scale offensive began at 3 A.M. (Damascus Time) on Friday, when Hezbollah and the 4th Mechanized Division stormed Tal Al-Malta and the Shalaah Checkpoint at the East Hills of Al-Zabadani, resulting in their subsequent advance across 10 square kilometers of mountainous terrain before the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) conducted a number of airstrikes at this resort city on the border of Lebanon.

On Friday afternoon, the clashes intensified between Hezbollah and the militants of Jabhat Al-Nusra at the East Hills, as the Syrian Army’s 4th Division targeted Jaysh Al-Islam and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham at the western hills of Jaroud Rankous.

The goal of this offensive will be to seal off the final border-crossing into Lebanon from the Al-Zabadani District’s northern countryside; if the Lebanese Resistance and the Syrian Armed Forces can do this, they will have successfully cutoff the militants from the Islamic Front, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from their final supply route.

However, this offensive will not be as easy as the Qalamoun Offensive, as the Islamic Front and Jabhat Al-Nusra are deeply entrenched around the western and eastern hills of Al-Zabadani; this has made it difficult in the past for the Syrian Armed Forces to breach their defenses.

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Editor-in-Chief Specializing in Near Eastern Affairs and Economics.

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Daahireeto Mohamud
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Daahireeto Mohamud

If Aleppo rebel offensive is repelled, and Al Zabadani is taken back by SAA and Hezbollah, that would restore balance of power in favor of the SAA and Hezbollah. I think it is also good idea for SAA to conduct limited offensives in Idlib to ensure that Al Nusra front is unable to commit more troops to its Aleppo offensive. Bottom line is for SAA keep Aleppo, Daraa and ALHasakah, take Al Zabadani, and conduct limited offensive in Idlib and Palmyra area with the aim of retaking Jisri Al shaqour and Palmyra in coming months,