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.