DAMASCUS, SYRIA (15:30 P.M.) – For the first time since December, heavy clashes erupted in the East Qalamoun area of Rif Dimashq province after a handful of rebel factions tried to gain ground on ISIS militants held up in the region.
After encountering a hail of gunfire and several tanks, the Islamic State withdrew from several outposts along the axis between Jabal Afai, Usud Sharqiyah, and Jabal Batra due to being overwhelmed by rebel forces composed of the Ahmad Al-Abdo martyrs brigade, Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar Al-Sham, Failaq Al-Rahman and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
The surprise rebel offensive began overnight and continued to evolve on Thursday.
Opposition factions control five towns in the East Qalamoun region; Al-Dumayr, Ar-Ruhaybah, Jayrud, Al-Atanah and Al-Nasiriyah. This rebel-held area is under a truce following a deal with Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Especially the Ahmad Al-Abdo martyrs brigade is on good terms with the SAA.
In the past, government forces have provided air support against ISIS in support of the Ahmad al-Abdo brigade. In turn, rebel commanders have vowed not to harass nearby SAA troops.
Brand new pictures of today’s offensive:
More footage of the offensive: