Battle of Qalamoun

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Battle of Qalamoun
Part of the Syrian civil war
Battle of Qalamoun.svg
Frontlines in the Qalamoun Mountains in April 2014

     Syrian Government control      Opposition control      Hezbollah Presence      Contested For a war map of the current situation in Rif Dimashq, see here.

Date 15 November – 15 December 2013
(1 month) (First phase)

10 February – 16 March 2014
(1 month and 6 days) (Second phase) 17 March – 26 April 2014
(1 month, 1 week and 2 days) (Third phase)

Location Qalamoun Mountains (An-Nabek District and Yabroud District), Syria
Result First phase: Syrian Army & Hezbollah strategic victory
  • Syrian Army captures Qara[1] and An-Nabek and reopens the Damascus-Homs highway[2]
  • Rebels temporarily capture most of Deir Attiyeh,[3] with the Army recapturing it six days later[4]
  • Rebels capture Maaloula[5]

Second phase: Syrian Army & Hezbollah victory

  • Syrian Army captures Jarajir,[6] Sahel,[7] Rima[8] and Yabroud[9]

Third phase: Decisive Syrian Army & Hezbollah victory

  • Syrian Army captures Ras al-Ain,[10] Flita, Ras Al-Maara,[11] Rankus,[12] Al-Sarkha, Jibbeh, Jbaadin,[13] Assal al-Ward,[14] Hawsh Arab,[15] Talfita,[16] Al-Mamurah[17] and Zabadani[18] and recaptures Maaloula[13]
Belligerents
Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Hezbollah
Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas[19]
Arab Nationalist Guard
Liwa'a Zulfiqar (Iraqi militia)[20]

Al-Nusra Front[21]

Islamic Front
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Free Syrian Army
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Green Battalion[21]

Commanders and leaders
Gen. Badi Ali[22] Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra.jpg Abu Malek al-Tallah (WIA)[23]
(Qalamoun commander)[24]
Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra.jpg Abu Azzam Al-Kuwaiti [25]
(Qalamoun deputy commander)
Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra.jpg Ahmed al-Assir[26]
(Lebanon commander)
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Ahmad Nawaf Durra [27]
(Qalamoun commander)
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Bilal Kharyoush [27]
(Qalamoun deputy commander)
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Salim Barakat [28]
(Qara commander)
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Firas Qassem [29]
(local Yabrud commander)
Strength
~10,000 Syrian Army troops[30][31] (deployed for the assault on Yabrud)

15,000 Hezbollah fighters (opposition claim)[32]

25,000–30,000 rebels[33]
Casualties and losses
First phase:
Unknown
Second phase:
1,800 killed and injured[34] (140 Hezbollah fighters;[35] opposition claim)
180 killed (47 Hezbollah fighters; Army claim)[36]
First phase:
100 killed and captured (An-Nabk battle; Army claim)[37]
Second phase:
500[38]–1,479 killed,[36] including at least 13 commanders[39] (Army claim)
Low hundreds of losses (opposition claim)[34]

The Battle of Qalamoun started on 15 November 2013, with air strikes on the town of Qara, in the strategic Qalamoun region, in an attempt by the Syrian Army to cut rebel supply lines to Damascus from Lebanon.[40] The strategic region had been used by rebel forces as a rear base for its operations around the capital Damascus. For its part, government forces had been using the nearby highway to link Damascus with the central Homs province and had multiple weapons depots in the area.[41] The battle was primarily led on the rebel side by the Al-Nusra Front.[21]

2013 Army offensive[edit]

Capture of Qara[edit]

Between 15 and 17 November, 1,200–1,700 families, 90 percent of Qara, evacuated from the town over the border into the Lebanese town of Arsal, after the Syrian Army issued a warning that they were going to attack rebel forces in the area.[42][43] In preparation for the offensive, thousands of Hezbollah fighters positioned themselves opposite the Qalamoun region on the Lebanese side of the border.[44] For its part, rebels had been digging in for months, preparing a network of caves and bunkers in the mountains.[45]

On 15 November, the military launched its offensive against Qara[46] and the next day multiple air strikes hit the rebel-held town.[47] Fighting was also raging near the towns of An-Nabk and Rima.[48][49] The clashes led to the closure of the Damascus-Homs highway.[44] Rebel forces in the area mobilised to counter the Army offensive.[50]

On 17 November, government forces moved into the hills around Qara[51] and were attempting to storm the town itself[40] as more air strikes were conducted.[52] Artillery was also used to hit the town.[53][54] By the afternoon, government forces were not able to advance in the city despite repeated attempts and the constant bombardment.[55]

On 18 November, government troops continued the offensive, capturing key positions in Qara, according to the pro-government al-Watan daily newspaper.[56] The Air Force carried out several raids on al-Qalamoun and Yabrud mountains, as pro-government press sources claimed that the Army controlled large parts of Qara.[57] A man who fled Qara into Lebanon described the attack on the town and stated "Qara is finished".[58] Middle East security officials stated there were few signs yet of a massive Syrian armour build-up needed for an all-out assault on Qalamoun. They speculated that the government may conclude that dwindling rebel supplies from Lebanon would mean an all-out assault is not worth the cost.[59]

On 19 November, government forces took full control of Qara.[1][60][61] Rebels retreated from the town towards An-Nabk and Deir Attiyeh.[62]

Rebel attack on Deir Attiyeh[edit]

On 20 November, a series of suicide attacks occurred against government forces in An-Nabk and Deir Attiyeh. A suicide car bomber targeted a military checkpoint while another blew up near a security headquarters, both on the outskirts of An-Nabk. In another incident, two Saudis tried to blow up the hospital in Deir Attiyeh but were stopped by government soldiers.[63] In the attack on the checkpoint seven soldiers were killed and five wounded, while several soldiers died in the attack on the hospital. After the Saudi bombers exploded, five rebel fighters entered the hospital in an attempt to destroy medical equipment and kidnap a wounded Army officer and the Ikhbariya al-Suriya television crew. However, they were beaten back by the Army and the officer and crew were saved. Meanwhile, eight rebels were killed in fighting in the countryside around Deir Attiyeh.[64][65]

On 22 November, rebel forces, led by jihadists from ISIL and Al-Nusra Front, mostly seized the largely Christian town of Deir Attiyeh. Only the Bassel hospital and a small hill remained under Army control.[3]

On 25 November, the Army started deploying troops in Deir Attiyeh, in preparation to recapture the town,[66] and soon after launched a counter-attack.[67] The next day, the Air Forces hit Al-Nabk, killing seven people, including three children. Meanwhile, the Syrian Health Minister, Saad al-Nayef, accused the rebels of committing a "massacre" in Deir Attiyeh, killing "five doctors, five nurses and two ambulance drivers."[68] Opposition activists confirmed five doctors and four nurses were killed in the clashes at the main hospital.[69]

On 27 November, four Hezbollah fighters were killed in fighting in the Qalamoun region, one of them the nephew of the Lebanese Caretaker Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan, a top Hezbollah official.[70] At this time, fighting started in the area of the government-held town of Maaloula.[5]

On 28 November, the Army recaptured Deir Attiyeh,[71] with fighting continuing in the surrounding countryside.[4]

Army push into An-Nabek, fighting in Maaloula[edit]

The same day the Army recaptured Deir Attiyeh, government forces entered An-Nabek[72] and fighting raged around the town.[73] A military source stated that if the town would to be captured, the Army would be left with only Yabrud and some other villages to take in order to completely block off the border with Lebanon.[72]

On 29 November, the Army was shelling rebel positions in the town that had halted its advance.[74] Government forces detained dozens of people in the western part of An-Nabk that they had captured.[75]

On the night of 29 November,[76] rebel forces started an attack on Maaloula, in an attempt to capture it[77] and cut Army supply lines from Damascus to An-Nabk,[76] after their previous attack on the town was repelled in September.[77] In the early hours of the next day, the rebels broke into the town and captured the Mar Takla convent in the western part of Maaloula.[76] Meanwhile, fighting was still continuing in An-Nabk, which was hit with several air strikes. The Air Force also attacked Yabrud.[77]

On 1 December, fighting in Maaloula was concentrated in the old quarter of the town.[78] Meanwhile, a suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint on the Damascus-Homs highway, near An-Nabk, killing five government fighters. By this point, according to a Syrian security source, the military had captured 60 percent of An-Nabk.[79]

On 2 December, the rebels moved into the center of Maaloula, after sending explosive-filled tires hurtling down from positions in the cliffs above the town on security forces deployed there.[80] By this point, rebel forces captured the old quarter of Maaloula.[81][82] The Army and pro-government militias fought during the day in an attempt to retake the district. Several nuns from the monastery were being held by jihadist fighters[83] and, according to a Vatican spokesperson, the 12 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns were forcibly taken north in the direction of Yabrud. During the evening, rebels had taken full control of Maaloula,[5] with fighting continuing against government forces in the town's outskirts.[84] After the town's capture, three Christians in Maaloula were executed by rebels after refusing to convert to Islam.[85] At the same time, the Army captured most of An-Nabk and continued to advance through the town the next day.[86] Due to the advances, the Army reopened the Damascus-Homs highway.[87]

On 3 December, the Army sent reinforcements to Maaloula to link up with government forces still on the outskirts of the town and attempt to retake it.[88]

On 6 December, government forces reportedly killed at least 18 people, including children, in an underground shelter in the government-held Al-Fattah district of An-Nabk. The opposition claimed that government troops torched the bodies after the killings "in a bid to conceal their crime".[89] The next day, the number of those killed was updated to 40.[90][91]

On 7 December, according to Iranian Press TV, the Army cleared the outskirts of An-Nabk, but fighting was still ongoing inside the town itself.[92] On 8 December, the Army advanced further, capturing new sectors of An-Nabk.[93] The next day, the Army reopened the Damascus-Homs highway, after securing it for the most part. However, according to SOHR, the highway was still not fully secured due to continuing rebel attacks.[94] On 10 December, the Army took full control of An-Nabk,[2] with fighting continuing in its outskirts[95] as a pocket of rebel resistance in a small area east of the town remained.[2] State TV aired a live report from An-Nabk's main square[95] in the center of the town.[96] According to a pro-government newspaper, 100 rebels were killed or captured during the battle for the town.[37]

On 11 December, government forces shelled the outskirts of Yabrud and the Rima area, as well as the outskirts of An-Nabk.[97] Several air strikes were also conducted against Yabrud.[98] By 15 December, the military was prepared to storm the town.[99]

Interlude[edit]

Early on 21 December, Hezbollah forces ambushed a group of Al-Nusra Front rebels on the Lebanese side of the border in Wadi al-Jamala, on the outskirts of Nahle, a mountainous area opposite the Qalamoun region. The rebels were attempting to infiltrate Lebanon from Syria via an illegal border crossing. 32 rebels and one Hezbollah fighter were killed and one Hezbollah fighter was wounded.[100]

On 27 December, the Army ambushed a rebel force in a mountainous area between Maaloula and Yabrud,[101] leaving 65 rebels dead[102] and 20 wounded.[103] The same day, 15 people were killed by landmines in the area between Yabrud and An-Nabk.[104]

On 19 January 2014, more than 60 rebel fighters were killed in an ambush by government forces,[105] while they were attempting to attack the Christian town of Sednaya.[106]

On 30 January, it was reported the Syrian army was preparing to start the battle for control of Yabrud. During this time, the Reema Farms had been witnessing violent clashes between the Army and the rebels, while the military captured the hills around Al-Neaymat and Al-Abboudieh, along the Syrian-Lebanese border.[107]

2014 renewed Army offensive[edit]

The Qalamoun Mountains

Battle for the hills[edit]

On 10 February, the military renewed its offensive against rebels in the Qalamoun mountains.[108] On 12 February, the Syrian Air Force launched 20 airstrikes on Yabrud, while the Syrian Army captured the town of al-Jarajir, north-west of Yabrud near the Lebanese border.[6] The next day, according to the pro-government al-Watan newspaper, the Army captured the town of Sahel, the al-Arid road, Qamieh and al-Kornish areas surrounding Yabrud.[109]

Around 20 February, rebels ambushed a Hezbollah convoy near the Lebanese border while they were traveling towards the frontline.[110] 27 Hezbollah fighters were killed.[111]

By the end of February, according to a Hezbollah commander, government forces had captured 70 percent of the Qalamoun mountains.[112]

On 26 February, a rebel commander was killed outside Yabrud, while rebels claimed that they continued to withstand the offensive. They also claimed that the government offensive failed in the Rima Farms region to force a breakthrough.[113]

On 27 February, the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper reported that the Army captured two strategic hills near Yabrud that were being used by the rebels as supply routes.[114]

On 28 February, rebel sources claimed that their forces captured "Flag" hill and that Hezbollah retreated from the Sahel front.[115]

On 3 March, according to the Iranian Al-Alam news network, government forces recaptured Sahel and the previous day, the Army reportedly captured the strategic Al-Kuwaiti hill.[116] Meanwhile, according to the SOHR, fighting was still continuing in the Sahel area, but government forces were advancing. A journalist for Hezbollah's television channel Al-Manar made a TV report from the village.[117] Government forces were reportedly reinforced by an Iraqi militia for the assault.[118] 17 rebels, 15 government soldiers and militiamen and four Hezbollah fighters were killed during the day's fighting[119] and 30 rebels were captured.[7] One of the killed rebels was Hussein Mohammad Ammoun, who orcestrated a car bomb plot involving a female terrorism suspect in Lebanon the previous month.[120]

On 4 March, fighting was reportedly still continuing in the Sahel area,[121] while reporters were taken on a tour of the village.[7][119] A military commander also stated that the Army captured several hills and strategic positions on Yabrud's outskirts.[122] To the north of Yabrud, in the Rima area, helicopters bombarded rebel positions using barrel bombs.[119][123]

On 5 March, government forces in Sahel were preparing to advance towards Flita[124] and Ras al-Ma'ara.[8] The next day, they pressed their offensive against Yabrud and captured the "Kuwait" and "Qatar" hills near the city.[125][126][127] The Army also captured areas in the Rima Farms region.[8][126] 17 rebels[128][129] and 15 soldiers were reportedly killed in the fighting.[126]

On 7 March, 18 more rebels,[130] 11 soldiers and one Hezbollah fighter were killed in fighting in Yabrud's outskirts.[131]

On 9 March, the nuns captured by rebels in Maaloula, and held for more than three months in Yabrud, were released and were on their way to Damascus via Lebanon.[132] By this point, according to an opposition TV station, 200 government fighters had been killed in the month-long offensive to capture the Yabrud area. According to a Hezbollah website, 40 Hezbollah fighters had been killed by 7 March.[133]

On 11 March, after almost a month of fighting, government forces captured the Rima Farms region, positioning themselves directly facing Yabrud.[134][135]

Battle of Yabroud[edit]

On 14 March, Hezbollah fighters approached Yabroud from the west as a diversion while Army troops attacked from the east, with fire support provided to both forces. This left the rebels under heavy bombardment and caught in a pincer.[136] The Army soon reached the eastern outskirts of the city.[137] During this time, Hezbollah commandos conducted a raid in which they killed 13 rebel leaders,[39][138] including the Kuwaiti Al-Nusra Qalamoun deputy commander, Abu Azzam al-Kuwaiti. This left rebel forces in disarray.[138][139] In the meantime, the Army captured Aqaba hill, east of the town. This forced the rebels to retreat towards their rear bases.[140] Government forces started entering Yabroud from the east and advanced along the town's main street, while rebels were retreating towards Rankous.[140] Fighting was also taking place on the northern edge, between Yabrud and Sahel.[140]

On 15 March, fighting was reportedly still raging at the eastern entrance of the city, with rebels sending reinforcements[139] after they managed to regroup,[141] while Hezbollah fighters were also fighting inside the town itself.[139] Government troops managed to advance "hundreds of meters (yards) inside Yabroud", according to a military source. 15 air-strikes were conducted against the town during the day.[142] One of the strongest rebel groups was sent to defend Mar Maroun hill, east of the town.[141] However, rebels were soon surprised when the Army captured Mar Maroun without any notable resistance.[34] Thus the Army captured all hills around the town.[139] The lack of resistance raised suspicions that the rebel group in charge of defending the hill made a deal with government forces.[34][143] After this, the Army controlled Yabrud's eastern approaches and northeastern boundary.[139] Later in the day, government forces had advanced two kilometers inside the town towards a roundabout, according to state TV.[144] The SOHR denied government troops had managed to enter the city and said they were still two kilometers away from it.[145] In the evening, rebel commanders held a meeting during which they decided to abandon Yabrud, with only the Al-Nusra Front deciding to still stay and fight.[141]

On 16 March, Syrian troops, backed by Hezbollah fighters, captured most, if not all, of Yabroud, after entering the eastern part of the town the previous night.[9][146][147] Government forces had secured the town’s main square, the Al-Akhzar Grand Mosque and the town's Catholic church.[38] Most of the opposition forces withdrew at dawn. 1,000 rebels retreated to the mountainous border area near the Lebanese town of Arsal.[9] Others fled to the nearby towns of Rankous, Flita and Hosh Arab.[148] A small hardcore group of fighters remained in the town to fight to the death. The fighters were trying to drag Army troops into urban warfare, where they believed they had an advantage. However, by this point, rebel supplies for the town were cut off and weapons that were promised to opposition forces never arrived. As the Army was moving into Yabroud, the Air Force fired four rockets near the barren hills of Arsal, possibly targeting smugglers supplying rebels in the area.[149] In all, the Air Force conducted 20 air strikes during the day between Yabrud and Arsal and on the outskirts of Arsal, after hundreds of rebels poured into the area.[150] By noon, the Al-Nusra fighters had also retreated from the town.[141] Military sources stated 500–1,000 rebels had been killed since the start of the operation to capture Yabrud.[38][151] The rebel's loss of the town was seen as a symbolic and practical blow for the opposition.[152] Due to the loss of Yabroud, the rebels had no way of supplying their forces in rural Damascus, where government forces were surrounding a series of opposition-held areas, denying them food, power and clean water. According to a security source, the Army's next targets were going to be Rankous and Flita.[153] Later during the day, the Syrian Defense Minister, General Fahd Jassem al-Freij, inspected government troops in Yabroud.[154] By the evening, opposition forces completely withdrew from the area and headed towards the surrounding western villages, particularly the plains of the nearby city of Rankus.[155]

During the whole time that the battle was ongoing, the town was being hit by heavy shelling. The ferocity of the artillery strikes could be seen per one incident in which a group of 14 rebels was hit, leaving 12 of them dead and only two survivors.[156]

Third phase – Operations continue[edit]

On 17 March, the Lebanese army sent commandos to the border area with Syria, as Syrian rebels continued to flee into Lebanon after the fall of Yabrud.[157] The Lebanese military detained 15 rebels trying to cross into Lebanon in the northern Akkar region of Wadi Khaled.[158] According to a Syrian Army source, 1,400 rebels from the FSA, Ahrar al-Sham and other groups had fled Yabrud in the previous two days, while 1,000 militants from the Al-Nusra Front remained to fight in the town, but they also eventually retreated. During the final fighting for Yabrud, 19 Hezbollah fighters were killed.[159] Government forces shelled Flita,[160] as they prepared to assault the last rebel-held areas in the Qalamoun mountains, which includes Ras al-Maarra and Flita, northwest of Yabrud, and Rankus to the south.[138] This would mark the start of the Army's third phase to capture the whole mountain range.[161] During the evening, a pro-government source reported that government troops had broken through the frontline at Ras al-Maarra.[162]

On 18 March, many unconfirmed claims surfaced from cities in the Qalamoun mountains, claiming a will to negotiate with government forces to spare the numerous cities south of Yabrud, including Maalula, of an Army offensive.[163] Army troops were advancing towards Ras al-Ain, southwest of Yabrud, and captured several hills[164] overlooking the village. Later, it was reported the military and Hezbollah entered Ras al-Ain and were progressing.[165][166] Meanwhile, northwest of Yabrud, the Army entered Ras al-Maarra and captured large parts of it.[167]

On 19 March, the rebel's central front in the mountains appeared to be collapsing as the Army captured Ras al-Ain, after two days of fighting.[10] The military seized a factory in the village for manufacturing bombs, including car-bombs which bore Lebanese licence plaits.[168] Meanwhile, fierce fighting raged between Army and rebel forces at a checkpoint near Rankus, while government troops were also fighting rebel and jihadist forces around the villages of Bkhaa and Jobeh in the Qalamoun region.[169] Later, fighting also erupted in Rankus itself.[170] Rebel commander Abu Omar Al-Farouq claimed, via the pro-opposition Syria Newsdesk, that "dozens of battalions" were stationed in the hills surrounding Yabrud and were "awaiting orders to move towards the city", but he admitted that the previous withdrawal from the town resulted in a state of confusion among the rebels and "divided and dispersed their forces".[171]

On 20 March, a pro-government source claimed that Rankus would fall to the Army in a matter of hours.[172] The next day, the same source, claimed that the military captured Rankus,[173] but this was not independently confirmed.

On 23 March, a special Hezbollah unit infiltrated 11 kilometers deep inside rebel-held territory in the Qalamoun region and planted bombs inside the garden of a house frequented by three rebel car-bomb experts. When the experts arrived, along with four of their bodyguards, the bombs were detonated killing all seven of them.[174]

During the evening of 26 March, the Army and Hezbollah advanced on Flita and attacked it in an attempt to capture the town. By the next day, the attack had been halted as the military shelled Flita. Among those killed in the fighting was the commander of the rebel Military Council of Qalamoun and his deputy.[27][175]

On 28 March, rebels in Flita appeared to be on the verge of collapse[176] and the next day, the Army captured Flita and Ras Al-Maar,[177] leaving only Rankus to be captured by government forces before completely cutting rebel supplies from Lebanon into Qalamoun.[11]

On 31 March, it was reported by the SOHR that an Army Colonel was killed in the fighting[178] and two days later, according to the SOHR, "a dozen" government fighters were killed and wounded in a rebel ambush, while two rebels were reportedly killed in the clashes.[179]

On 7 April, fighting raged around al-Sarkha, near Rankus, with government forces reportedly advancing.[180] Later, the Fars News Agency reported the military managed to capture al-Sarkha and thus had broken through the rebel's first line of defense of Rankus.[181] The SOHR also confirmed the Army had advanced towards Rankus.[182]

On 8 April, the military captured the Saidnaya Observatory,[183] near Rankus,[184] after fighting that killed 15 rebel fighters.[185] Later, fighting erupted in the outskirts of Rankus which left a rebel commander dead.[186] The state news agency claimed government forces captured a hilltop overlooking Rankus as well as a few neighborhoods of the town.[187] A military sources stated rebels were willing to surrender Rankus after their string of losses in the Qalamoun area.[188] Meanwhile, the frontline at al-Sarkha was still reported to be just north of the village. During this time, rebels were retreating towards Zabadani, further south, and reportedly preparing for a last stand against the advancing government troops.[189]

On 9 April, the Army entered the area of Rankus with heavy fighting subsequently erupting and a military source eventually reporting the military had captured the town.[12] The SOHR also later confirmed government forces had captured Rankus, stating that as they entered the town there were no rebel forces a Rankus after a truce was reached a couple of days earlier between some of the town’s residents and the government, which is why the residents demanded the rebels to leave the town.[190] 140 rebels were reportedly killed during the battle for the town including an Iraqi al-Nusra commander, Abu Talha al-Baghdadi.[191] Clashes continued on the edges of Rankus.[192]

On 13 April, state television claimed the Army captured a string of hills overlooking Rankus.[193]

On 14 April, the Army captured Al-Sarkha and recaptured Maaloula.[13] Three Lebanese journalists from the pro-Hezbollah Al-Manar TV were killed during the fighting in Maaloula. Four soldiers also died as they tried to rescue the Al-Manar TV team.[194] The Army had also secured the villages of Jibbeh and Jbaadin.[195][196]

On 15 April, the military captured Assal al-Ward after rebels surrendered[14] or retreated.[197] The Army than continued on and captured Hawsh Arab that night.[15][198] During the day, government troops were still fighting pockets of rebel resistance at a mosque in Maaloula[19] which they cleared by the following day.[199]

On 16 April, the pro-government channel Al Mayadeen reported that the Army captured the town of Talfita.[200]

On 20 April, President Bashar al-Assad visited Maaloula for the Easter holiday.[201] Two days later, the military captured the town of al-Ma’moura.[17]

On 26 April, rebels in Zabadani surrendered and the Army captured the town, thus taking the last rebel stronghold in the Qalamoun region and on the Lebanese border.[18]

Aftermath[edit]

In late June 2014, following hit-and-run attacks by remnant rebel forces in the mountains, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah launched an offensive to clear the area of all remaining rebels. The situation escalated in early August when rebels came into direct conflict with the Lebanese military as well on the Lebanese side of the border in the town of Arsal.

On the 19th of August, a senior figure in the Islamic State who had prepared planned car and suicide bombs across Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Some reports said that he was killed when a bomb was detonated which was attached to his car by Hezbollah Fighters. There were also several reports that he was killed by the Syrian army in the Qalamoun region, near the border with Lebanon. [202] [203] [204] [205] [206]

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  49. ^ "Syrian Army Fights for Road Needed to Remove Chemical Weapons". Voice of America. Reuters. 
  50. ^ "Syrian army fights for road needed to remove chemical weapons". Reuters. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  51. ^ "Syria's Qalamoun offensive forces thousands to flee to Lebanon". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Associated Press. 17 November 2013. 
  52. ^ "More fighting near Lebanese border, Syrian regime launches new airstrikes". Albawaba.com. 29 October 2013. 
  53. ^ Liz Sly (17 November 2013). "Syria fighting in Qalamoun triggers new exodus of refugees to Lebanon". The Washington Post. 
  54. ^ Syrian army besieges town in strategic Qalamoun mountains
  55. ^ Syria air force bombards town near Lebanon: monitor
  56. ^ "Syrian troops recapture key positions in northern Damascus' town". Xinhua News Agency. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  57. ^ Damascus Countryside
  58. ^ Yacoub, Khaled (18 November 2013). "Syria rebel chieftain killed; Assad forces bomb besieged town". Reuters. 
  59. ^ ' + val.created_at + '. "Syria rebel chieftain killed; Bashar Assad forces bomb besieged town". Ndtv.com. 
  60. ^ Holmes, Oliver (19 November 2013). "Syrian army takes town along north-south highway: state media". Reuters. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  61. ^ "Syria troops seize Qara village near Lebanon border". NOW. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  62. ^ Fuel crisis in Damascus as fighting blocks key highway
  63. ^ Suicide Bombs Hit Syria Troops North of Damascus
  64. ^ Suicide bombers hit Syria troops near Lebanon: Monitor, SANA
  65. ^ Regular forces regain control of the monastery gift
  66. ^ Syria rebels press advance around Damascus and Aleppo
  67. ^ Assad forces recapture Christian town
  68. ^ Syria opposition, regime reject compromise ahead of talks
  69. ^ Syrian troops capture town near Lebanon border
  70. ^ Nephew of a top Hezbollah official killed in Syria
  71. ^ Syrian troops capture western town
  72. ^ a b Syria army retakes Deir Attiyeh town near Damascus: TV
  73. ^ Syrian troops capture key town
  74. ^ Syria army presses advance near Damascus
  75. ^ Friday 29 November 2013
  76. ^ a b c Syrian rebels enter Christian village near capital
  77. ^ a b c Syrian rebels re-enter historic town of Maaloula: activists
  78. ^ Activists: New Syrian strike near Aleppo kills 11
  79. ^ 20 killed in second day of air raids on Syria's Al-Bab
  80. ^ Syria Rebels Advance in Maalula, Send 'Tire Bombs' Burtling Down on Army
  81. ^ Islamists take Syrian Christian town, monastery: State media
  82. ^ Islamists Take Syrian Christian Town, Monastery: State Media
  83. ^ Islamists take Syrian Christian town, monastery: state media
  84. ^ Monday 2 December 2013
  85. ^ 3 CHRISTIANS EXECUTED AFTER REFUSING TO CONVERT
  86. ^ Syrian patriarch urges release of abducted nuns
  87. ^ Syrian nuns taken by rebels appear in video
  88. ^ Deadly suicide bomb hits Damascus
  89. ^ Islamists 'seize Free Syrian Army arms depots'
  90. ^ Syria: new massacre unfolds in Nabk
  91. ^ New massacre by Syrian regime in Nabk
  92. ^ Syria army retakes al-Nabk town near Damascus
  93. ^ Syria regime forces advance in Lebanon border region
  94. ^ Syrian troops seize control of strategic highway
  95. ^ a b Syrian Army Captures Town Near Key Highway
  96. ^ Syrian army retakes road needed to ship out chemical arms
  97. ^ Syria Army Piles Pressure on Rebel-held Yabrud
  98. ^ Activists: Syrian army pounds rebels near Lebanon
  99. ^ Syrian troops to storm Yabroud 'within hours': report
  100. ^ Hezbollah ambush kills 32 Islamist fighters in e. Lebanon
  101. ^ Scores of rebels killed in Syrian government ambush - monitor
  102. ^ Final death toll for Friday 27/12/2013: More than 260 people killed.
  103. ^ Syrian troops ambush and kill dozens of rebels
  104. ^ Friday 27 December 2013
  105. ^ Islamist rebels reject 'hollow' Syria peace talks
  106. ^ January: Syrian Army Victories Daily Updates
  107. ^ Syrian army preparing to fight in Yabroud
  108. ^ Assad offensive near Homs sends Syrians fleeing to Lebanon
  109. ^ Syrian army starts crucial battle against rebels in strategic town
  110. ^ Fighting for Assad, Hezbollah buries its own
  111. ^ Hezbollah faces swelling battle in Syrian mountains
  112. ^ Hezbollah takes lead in pounding Syrian rebels
  113. ^ "Regime forces inch closer to Aleppo". The Daily Star. 26 February 2014. 
  114. ^ Syrian army readies ground assault on Yabrud: Report
  115. ^ "Hezbollah is losing in Yabroud". NOW News. 28 February 2014. 
  116. ^ "Syrian army gains control over strategic area near capital". Al Alam. 3 March 2014. 
  117. ^ Syrian army 'captures village near Yabrud'
  118. ^ Fighting continues in Yabroud and Aleppo
  119. ^ a b c Syrian forces press assault on strategic town near Lebanon
  120. ^ Car bomb provider killed in Yabroud, Syria
  121. ^ Air strikes near Syria rebel bastion Yabrud
  122. ^ Syria: Army advancing on rebel town near Lebanon
  123. ^ Syrian Army Choppers Join Yabroud Battle
  124. ^ Syria troops take a short breather ahead of Yabrud siege
  125. ^ Raids and martyrs in Damascus Suburbs
  126. ^ a b c Car bombs hit Homs and Hama, fighting rages near Yabroud
  127. ^ Syrian Army Firmly Controls Rima Farms, Besieges Yabroud in Qalamoun
  128. ^ Syrian warplanes pound key rebel area
  129. ^ Air raids on Yabrood and 17 battalions of the martyr Islamic Fighting
  130. ^ More than 270 were killed yesterday, including 211 from the regular forces and combat battalions
  131. ^ Syria army captures town in strategic Homs province
  132. ^ Nuns held in Syria have been freed: Sources
  133. ^ Rebels say 120 Hezbollah troops killed in key Syria battle
  134. ^ Syrian forces advance to edge of rebel border town
  135. ^ Raids, Clashes , and human losses in Reef Dimashq
  136. ^ Assad Re-captures Yabroud and Lebanon Takes a Plunge
  137. ^ Al Qaeda splinter group in Syria leaves two provinces - activists
  138. ^ a b c Syria Army In Hot Pursuit Of Rebels On Lebanon Border
  139. ^ a b c d e Fighting rages at doorstep of key Syria rebel bastion
  140. ^ a b c Syrian forces enter rebel bastion of Yabrud
  141. ^ a b c d JustPaste.It
  142. ^ Syria conflict has 3rd anniversary amid offensive
  143. ^ Syria attacks rebel holdouts in Qalamoun
  144. ^ Syria army advances on rebel town
  145. ^ Director of the Syrian Observatory denies the control of the Syrian army regulars Yabrood
  146. ^ Syria army recaptures rebel bastion Yabrud
  147. ^ Syria says army and Hezbollah have seized border town
  148. ^ Syrian forces fully control rebel stronghold near Lebanon
  149. ^ Syria says government forces seize key rebel town near Lebanon border
  150. ^ Syria army captures rebel stronghold of Yabroud
  151. ^ COMPLETE VICTORY IN YABROOD; OVER ONE THOUSAND RAT TERRORISTS KILLED; REMNANT RODENTS RUSH TO RANKOOS TO DIE
  152. ^ Syrian army claims control of rebel town Yabrud
  153. ^ Assad forces, allies seize Yabroud
  154. ^ Syrian Army Ousts Rebels From Border Stronghold
  155. ^ Opposition forces completely withdraw from Yabroud in Rif Dimashq
  156. ^ Syria Rebels Lick their Wounds in Arsal
  157. ^ Lebanon sends army to Syria border as rebels flee
  158. ^ Lebanese Army detains 15 Syrian gunmen
  159. ^ Syrian forces capture rebel stronghold
  160. ^ Car bomb kills six in Syria's Homs: NGO
  161. ^ Syrian source: the army launched the third phase of its operations in Kalamoon
  162. ^ BREAKING NEWS!!!!
  163. ^ Is Qalamoun battle over? Hezbollah will be standing on over 18000 sqm2.
  164. ^ After Yabrud capture, Syria army advances west
  165. ^ Syria troops advance after seizing rebel stronghold
  166. ^ Syrian army and Hezbollah advance west after Yabroud
  167. ^ Progress of Hezbollah in Kalamoon
  168. ^ Syrian Army Seizes Bomb-Laden Cars in Yabrud Carrying Lebanese License Plates
  169. ^ Syria Army Fighting for Control of Krak Fort
  170. ^ Syria army seizes Qalamoun village near Lebanon
  171. ^ Opposition forces aim to retake Yabroud in Rif Dimashq
  172. ^ COMMUNIQUE OF SAA HIGH COMMAND
  173. ^ RANKOOS RAT-FREE;
  174. ^ Hezbollah ambush kills three bomb experts in Qalamoun
  175. ^ Syrian Army, Hezbollah advance on Flita
  176. ^ Syrians rally in support of rebels’ coastal offensive
  177. ^ Syrian troops capture 2 villages near the border with Lebanon, activists and state TV say
  178. ^ colonel killed in Qalamoun
  179. ^ Violence flares around Damascus
  180. ^ Violent clashes in Kalamoon
  181. ^ Syrian Army Breaks Militants' 1st Line of Defense in Rankus
  182. ^ Rebels claim gains in Aleppo and Qunaitra
  183. ^ Reef Dimashq province
  184. ^ Shelling and clashes in Daraa and Damascus Countryside
  185. ^ The Arab Chronicle
  186. ^ Clashes and the death of 6 fighters in Damascus Suburbs
  187. ^ Syrian army steps up battle for Rankous
  188. ^ Military Source: Militants in Rankus Decide to Surrender to Gov't Troops
  189. ^ Town by town, Assad regime retakes southwestern Syria
  190. ^ Regular forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah dominate Rankous
  191. ^ Syrian army recaptures town near Damascus
  192. ^ Assad's forces advance into rebel border town
  193. ^ 13 dead as Syria planes hit rebel bastions near Damascus
  194. ^ 3 journalists for Hezbollah TV killed in Syria
  195. ^ Syrian forces take 3 villages near Lebanese border
  196. ^ Syrian army entered the "Mlvla" was
  197. ^ Syrian army controls the Assal roses and a stampede of gunmen
  198. ^ Activists: Syrian airstrikes kill 4 in rebel town
  199. ^ Syrian force clear al-Qalamoun of militants
  200. ^ الجيش السوري يسيطر على أحياء في حمص وحلب .. والمسلحون ينسحبون إلى الزبداني
  201. ^ Syria's Assad pays Easter visit to recaptured Christian town
  202. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/lebanons-hezbollah-kills-top-jihadist-syria-ngo-102414478.html
  203. ^ http://www.abna.ir/english/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2014/08/19/632095/story.html
  204. ^ http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Aug-19/267659-isis-commander-killed-by-syrian-army-report.ashx#axzz3Ar3WrUcI
  205. ^ http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/hezbollah-kills-islamic-state-leader-qalamoun-1148229984
  206. ^ http://www.salon.com/2014/08/19/activists_jihadi_killed_near_syria_lebanon_border/