DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:40 PM) – Troops of the Syrian Republican Guard have not succeeded in relieving the siege of a key armoured vehicle military base in Harasta that is currently being attacked by rebel forces, prompting Damascus to deploy elite forces from Beit Jenn.

The armoured vehicle base near the East Damascus city of Harasta has been under siege by a combined assault of troops from Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formely known as the Al-Nusra Front) and Ahrar al-Sham since Friday. A combined force of regular army troops from Qalamoun and Republican Guard forces are on the scene but have been hard-pressed to keep the militants at bay.

In response to the sudden and fierce rebel attack, the Syrian army has decided to employ one of its most elite forces in the area, the Al-Ghaith group. Al-Ghaith is a super-elite force under the 42th Brigade of the 4th Division of the army, specifically trained for urban combat and counter-insurgency warfare, and has successfully fought HTS and other terrorist organisations in the past.

The Al-Ghaith group played a major role in defeating Al-Qaeda linked rebels in the Beit Jenn pocket, which resulted in the majority of militants either perishing, surrendering or accepting an evacuation deal.

The elite troops have reportedly arrived in the area of Harasta town, and is expected to start its offensive within a few hours, in an operation that has likely only one goal: to smash the rebel forces in the area with such ferocity that similar attacks will not take place anymore in the near future.

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Historian specialized in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Based in Belgium.

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