Reports from the resort-city of Al-Zabadani have confirmed that the western-backed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is currently fighting alongside two terrorist groups, the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), as the Syrian Arab Army’s 63rd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah continue their offensive on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
For almost a year, the FSA, ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra have been deeply entrenched in the vast Qalamoun and Western Mountains of Lebanon and Syria, while they attempted to maintain their strategic supply routes from the ‘Arsal District of the Beqa’a Governorate (Lebanon) amid relentless airstrikes from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF).
However, the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah began a long-awaited offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains of Syria and Lebanon in April of this year, capturing over 250 square kilometers of territory from the FSA, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and ISIS after 46 days of non-stop fighting along the Syrian-Lebanese border; this offensive paved the way for the eventual assault on Al-Zabadani.
The Al-Zabadani District has been nearly encircled by the Syrian Armed Forces for two years, but the FSA and Jabhat Al-Nusra have been able to survive within the city’s borders due to their constant ceasefire and reconciliation offerings to the Syrian Government – please note that the FSA and Jabhat Al-Nusra have violated every ceasefire agreement inside the city.
Now, with their backs against the wall, the three militant groups (FSA, ISIS, and Nusra) have found themselves sharing the same trenches against the encroaching SAA and Hezbollah soldiers.
Last winter, ISIS entered Al-Zabadani from the Lebanese border, staking their positions along the West Hills overlooking the city.
Despite bad blood with their former allies from the FSA and Jabhat Al-Nusra, only small skirmishes were reported between the militant groups inside Al-Zabadani; this was not the case in the Qalamoun Mountains, where they were at all out war for control of the northern barrens of Jaroud ‘Arsal (Lebanon) and Jaroud Qarah (Syria).