The battle for Sheikh Miskeen has turned into a blood bath between two sides hell-bent on imposing their will on one another. Despite the barrage of artillery shells and gunfire, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA)/National Defense Forces (NDF) and Jabhat Al-Nusra have been deadlocked in a tug-of-war battle that has seen both sides make significant gains, only to retreat hours later due to counter-offensives launched by the opposing side.

Currently, the majority of clashes at Sheikh Miskeen are taking place in the South and East Districts – these are the only two areas where the SAA is present. Jabhat Al-Nusra captured the strategic hill of Tal Al-Hamad after hours of violent firefights that led to the SAA’s withdrawal two days ago. The SAA also withdrew from the neighboring village of Nawa after a large wave of Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters poured into the area to reinforce their positions. For Jabhat Al-Nusra, losing Sheikh Miskeen and Da’el could lead to an SAA counter-offensive in the Dara’a Governorate from International Highway located near these two villages.

Not to be out-done, the SAA has cleared the two besieged areas surrounding Base 82 and Brigade 112; this has paved the way for a counter-offensive from these bases. The SAA has fought their way to the Sheikh Miskeen Cemetery in the East District, capturing the local farms adjacent to this imperative area near the Nusra-controlled West District. The Syrian Air Force has provided necessary assistance from the air, bombarding Jabhat Al-Nusra at Tal Al-Hamad and Nawa – the contingency behind these bombings is to allow for the SAA to recapture these areas by weakening the Jabhat Al-Nusra defenses.

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There are many groups involved in the battle of Sheikh Miskeen, but the majority of fighters belong to the 5th (12th and 175 Brigades) and 7th (69th Brigade) Divisions of the Syrian Arab Army and the 1st Brigade of Jabhat Al-Nusra. According to a military source, the SAA and NDF have record 58 soldiers killed during this battle, while Jabhat Al-Nusra has greatly exceeded 200 fighters killed and hundreds of more wounded.

Identified Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters killed at Sheikh Miskeen yesterday:

1. ‘Ali Mohammad Mahmoud Shahada Al-Hareeri
2. Abu Adam Al-Ansari
3. Qassem Mohammad ‘Awad
4. Dhiyya Nimrashabat
5. Zaher Assaaf (Jordanian)
6. Ahmad Abu Talib
7. Ziad ‘Abdullah Al-Aqra’a
8. Saamer Al-Ghazaawi Abu Siweelam
9. ‘Adnan Zayn Al-‘Abdeen
10. Mahmoud Jihad Al-Sha’baani
11. Khaled Dhiyyab Al-Hareeri
12. ‘Abdullah Mohammad Al-Sa’adi,

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