Beit Jinn offensive

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Beit Jinn offensive
Part of the Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign of the Syrian Civil War
Beit Jinn Pocket (December 2017).svg
Situation in Beit Jinn as of 22 December      Syrian Government control     Free Syrian Army and Tahrir al-Sham control
Date28 November 2017 – 2 January 2018
(1 month and 5 days)
Location
Result

Decisive Syrian Army victory

  • Syrian military captures Tal Bardiyah, rebel forces surrender Beit Jinn and leave to Idlib.
  • Syrian Army forces regain control of Beit Jinn and the whole Western Ghouta area.
Belligerents
 Syrian Arab Republic
Allied militias:
Hezbollah[1][2]
al-Imam al-Hussein Brigade (Iraqi Shia militia)[3]

Itihad Quwat Jabal al-Sheikh (Union of Mount Hermon Forces) Surrendered[4][1]

Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union Surrendered
Tahrir al-Sham Surrendered[5]
Commanders and leaders
Syria Adnan Badur [3]
(7th Division head of artillery)
Syria Hayder al-Juburi[3]
(Quwat Dir' al-Watan)
Syria Mohammed al-Hajj[6]
(National Shield)
Basim Ahmad al-Khatib [3]
Abu Mahdi [6]
Ayman Sami al-Taani [7]
Abu Saad Al-Maldifi [8]
Units involved

Syrian Army

National Defence Forces and other local militias[10]

Syrian opposition Omar bin al-Khattab Brigade[3]
Syrian opposition al-Ezz Brigade[3]
Casualties and losses
95-117 killed[11] Unknown

The Beit Jinn offensive was a military operation by the Syrian Arab Army against opposition groups in the Western Ghouta area, starting on 28 November 2017.

Background[edit]

After successes of the Syrian Army in capturing Khan al-Shih and Wadi Barada valley pockets, and reconciliation agreements in Madaya and Zabadani, Beit Jinn remained the last holdout of opposition forces in Western Ghouta.[12] The area is to the north of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria agreed in July between Russia and the United States.[1]

The offensive[edit]

Capture of Tal Bardiyah[edit]

On 28 November, government forces captured the eastern side of the strategic Bardiyah mountain chain in the besieged Beit Jinn pocket, southwest of Damascus and near the Golan Heights, which is controlled by rebel fighters.[13] Subsequently, there were competing claims between pro-government and pro-opposition sources on whether the rebels recaptured most of the positions they had lost or not.[5][14] The mountain was fully captured by the Army two days later.[15][16]

On 1 December, a government helicopter was shot down by the rebels.[17] Following this, helicopter strikes were halted in the area until the end of the offensive.[18]

Battle for the hills[edit]

In the morning of 11 December, at 9:30 am, the Syrian army began operations in Western Ghouta to ensure fire control over Beit Jinn. Members of the 42nd Armoured Brigade of the 4th Armoured Division, the Syrian Arab Army, launched fierce artillery attacks on rebel positions. Heavy fighting began in Maghar Al-Mir, triggering attacks from several shots of shelling with IRAM missiles.[19][20] During the fighting, the military captured two hills near Tal Bardiyah.[21] The next day, the Syrian army begun the process of isolating rebel-held Maghar Al-Mir[22] and managed to capture two more hilltops.[23]

On 14 December, led by the 42nd Armoured Brigade, the Syrian Arab Army launched a major offensive against rebels on the tallest hilltop in the area, Tal Al-Bayda. They managed to successfully capture the area, after rebels pulled back to the west. The Syrian Army's next goal was to divide the rebel pocket in half.[24]

The following day, the Syrian Army continued its main offensive, managing to impose total control over Tal al-Ahmar, after losing the hilltop two days earlier during a rebel counter-attack. By taking over positions around Tal al-Ahmara, the Syrian Army asserted fire-control over the roadway that connects the towns of Beit Saber and Maghar al-Mir.[25] By 16 December, the pocket was nearly cut in half after more government advances through the hills.[26][27][10]

As of 17 December, the Army was within 500 meters of Maghar al-Mir on its eastern side.[28] Between 18 and 19 December, after capturing parts of a new hill,[29][30] the rebel pocket was divided by artillery fire.[31] By 21 December, Beit Jinn was completely isolated.[32]

Rebel surrender[edit]

On 22 December, the Army captured a farm area south of Mazaraat Beit Jinn.[33][34] Two days later, pro-government forces started the third phase of their offensive.[35] SAA, Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shia and Druze militias encircled Maghar Al-Mir and advanced towards Beit Jinn, assisted by heavy aerial strikes.[36]

On 25 December, after pro-government forces captured more areas, negotiations started for the rebels to surrender.[37][32] The next day, pro-government forces gave an ultimatum to the rebels – either surrender or face military defeat. The rebels were given 72 hours to surrender and either go to the rebel-held Idlib province or stay and reach a settlement.[2] The evacuation began on 29 December, with rebels leaving for rebel-held Idlib province and rebel-held parts of Daraa province.[38] The first buses arrived at their destination the next day with around 230 fighters and family members.[39][40]

As the rebels retreated from the Beit Jinn area, the Army started taking over their former positions. Thus, on 2 January 2018, the military took control of the so-called ‘Red Hills’ following the rebel's withdrawal. The rebels used the hilltop chain to shell and conduct raids against a nearby government-held town.[41] By the end of the day, the military took full control of the Beit Jinn area and their offensive concluded.[42]

On 20 March 2018, it was reported that the last of the rebels left the Beit Jinn area the previous week, leaving the Syrian Arab Army in full control of the area, including the hilltops overlooking the town.[43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Suleiman Al-Khalidi Syrian, Iranian backed forces advance in border area near Israel, Reuters, 25 December
  2. ^ a b Al-Khalidi, Suleiman. "Syrian army and Iranian proxies demand surrender of rebels near Israel border". Reuters.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (2 January 2018). "Beit Jann: Myths and Reality". Syria Comment. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  4. ^ "SW. Damascus: facing assault by government forces, Union of Mt Hermon Forces announces destruction of 2 tanks and one Shilka with ATGMs. - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news today - syria.liveuamap.com". Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news today - syria.liveuamap.com.
  5. ^ a b "Clashes continue southwest of Rif Dimashq between the factions and Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham against the regime forces". SOHR.
  6. ^ a b c ""فوج الجولان" و"صقور القنيطرة" صراع خلفه "جمعية البستان"؟" ["The Golan Regiment" and "Hawks of Quneitra" conflict behind the "Bustan Society"]. Almodon. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Syrian Army rocket scores deadly hit killing entire group of jihadists including top commander". 20 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Syrian Army kills Maldivi rebel commander in west Damascus". 25 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Elite Syrian troops sent to crush Al-Qaeda pocket near Israeli border once and for all". 19 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Jihadists in desperation mode as Syrian Army troops capture more ground near Golan Heights". 16 December 2017.
  11. ^ Waters, Gregory (3 October 2018). "Fifteen Months of Death: Pro-Government Casualties of the Syrian Civil War". bellingcat. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Syrian rebels near Israel border ordered to surrender by regime forces".
  13. ^ "Syrian Army Establishes Control over Eastern Chain of Bardaia Hill in Damascus Countryside". Al-Manar. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Graphic pictures: Nusra corpses pile up as Syrian Army hones in on strategic town in west Damascus". Al-Masdar. 29 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army achieves major breakthrough near Golan Heights". Al-Masdar. 30 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Helicopters continue shelling the southwestern countryside of Rif Dimashq and the regime forces managed to advance in hills in the area and rebel attacks the factions to restore areas they lost". SOHR.
  17. ^ "Militants Shot Down Syrian Air Force Helicopter Near Beit Jinn (Photo, Video)". SouthFront blog. 1 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Preparations take place in the southwestern Rif Dimashq to start transporting the fighters, their families and those who reject the agreement towards the Syrian North and South". SOHR. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Jihadists hold on for dear life as Syrian Army advances near occupied Golan Heights: map". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  20. ^ "Syrian Army scores big advance near occupied Golan Heights". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  21. ^ "The regime forces continue targeting areas southwest of Rif Dimashq".
  22. ^ "Jihadist rebels on last legs in Beit Jinn as Israel watches from the Golan Heights". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  23. ^ "Fighting continues in the southwestern Rif Dimashq with exchange of targeting and shelling".
  24. ^ "Jihadist rebels on last legs in Beit Jinn as Israel watches from the Golan Heights". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-14. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  25. ^ "Jihadist rebels in serious trouble near the Golan Heights as SAA troops capture more ground". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  26. ^ "Latest battle update from the Golan Heights region: map". Al-Masdar. 16 December 2017.
  27. ^ "The regime forces continue their violent attack near the Lebanese border and close to the border with the occupied Golan and minimize the factions' scope of control in the area".
  28. ^ "Video: Al Qaeda in West Damascus pocket on brink of being squashed". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2017-12-17. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  29. ^ "The regime forces make a new advancement south of Rif Dimashq and advancement to control more areas".
  30. ^ "Syrian Army makes potential last push to capture jihadist pocket near Golan Heights". Al-Masdar. 19 December 2017.
  31. ^ "After a violent military campaign and hundreds of shells, the regime forces and their allies divide the besieged circle near the occupied Syrian Golan". SOHR.
  32. ^ a b Syrian regime closes in on village near Israeli Golan, Jeruslam Post, 26 December 2017
  33. ^ معارك ريف دمشق الجنوبي الغربي تتواصل بين قوات النظام والفصائل وتحرير الشام لتحقيق الأول تقدماً جديداً, SOHR, 22 December 2017
  34. ^ "Map update: Syrian Army reaches gates of key town in Damascus slaughtering militant ranks along the way". Al-Masdar News. 22 December 2017.
  35. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army kicks off 3rd phase of Beit Jinn offensive, Al-Masdar
  36. ^ "Syrian, Iranian backed forces advance in border area near Israel". Reuters. 25 December 2017.
  37. ^ "Syrian troops capture new areas near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights". CTV News. 25 December 2017.
  38. ^ "Syrian rebels depart enclave in south as army gains in north". Reuters. 29 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018 – via Reuters.
  39. ^ "The buses of Beit Jinn deal arrive in their destinations in the Syrian North and South few hours after they launched from the last place where they were located in the western Rif Dimashq". SOHR. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  40. ^ AP, Assad regains control as Syrian rebels abandon area bordering Golan Heights, Times of Israel 30 December 2017
  41. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army takes control of key hill chain in west Damascus amid jihadist withdrawal, Al-Masdar
  42. ^ Syrian Army restores control over entire West Ghouta after six years of war, Al-Masdar
  43. ^ Syrian Army in full control of Beit Jinn area after last militants leave