The fight for the control of the West Ghouta is perhaps the most ambiguous battle in this Syrian Conflict due to the lack of media coverage in villages like Khan Al-Sheih and the Al-Dirkhabiyya in the west; and the city of Darayya in the northeast. Recently, these battles have intensified after another breached ceasefire agreement in the city of Darayya between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and members of the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya).
Darayya is a strategic city for both the SAA and the Islamic Front due to its proximity to the Syrian capital of Damascus. The city is currently surrounded by the SAA’s 165th and 88th Brigades, but their lack of progression is a result of the Islamic Front’s network of tunnels that stretch from Beit Sahm (reconciled city) to Darayya.
The SAA has launched a wave of attacks to break through the Islamic Front’s defenses; however, these attacks have been repelled by the latter’s entrenched fighters. The Syrian Arab Air Force has played a vital role in obstructing all Islamic Front reinforcements from entering the city through their daily air raids in the vicinity of Darayya; but, the ceasefire agreement from early 2013 allowed for the IF to restock their supplies and to fortify their defenses.
Another fight that has recently intensified in the West Ghouta is the battle for Khan Al-Sheih – the village is located just south of the 7th Division’s base. The majority of the firefights taking place in Khan Al-Sheih have been reported at the Liquor Distillery Factory and on the outskirts of Al-Muqayliba. The Islamic Front and the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra) are the primary militant forces controlling this rural area; meanwhile, the SAA is backed by contingents from the National Defense Forces (NDF).