In early September, the Islamist rebel group that primarily operates in the Damascus countryside – “Jaysh Al-Islam” (Army of Islam) – launched a large scale offensive inside the once reconciled city of Harasta in order to capture the imperative Industrial Area and Dhahiyat Al-Assad  from the government-backed “National Defense Forces” (NDF).

Initially, the Syrian capital was somewhat in trouble, as Jaysh Al-Islam captured the Harasta Industrial Area and the hills surrounding Dhahiyat Al-Assad; these gains were coalesced with Jaysh Al-Islam’s success in the town of Tal Kurdi, where they captured most of the area en route to the ‘Adra Central Prison complex.

However, two weeks into their assault, Jaysh Al-Islam lost their momentum; this allowed for the National Defense Forces and Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) to seize the vital hills surrounding Dhahiyat Al-Assad, along with their capture of Al-Kassarat near the Homs-Damascus International Highway.

On Tuesday morning, the Syrian Arab Army’s 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard – in coordination with the National Defense Forces and Palestine Liberation Army – took control of more territory inside the Harasta Industrial Area, forcing Jaysh Al-Islam to withdraw towards the Harasta Highway.

With approximately 65 percent of the Harasta Industrial Area under their control, the battle for the Harasta Highway will be crucial; thus far, the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) has relentlessly bombarded the Islamist rebels, as the Syrian Armed Forces prepare for this integral fight.

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