Syrian rebels prepare for fighting in Syria .
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
Syrian rebels, who have been fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad near Quneitra on the Golan Heights, claim to have killed 108 Syrian Army soldiers, including-high ranking officers, in recent clashes.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, spokesman Abo Omar Algolany said Syrian rebel factions were still trying to liberate Quneitra province.
Over the June 24th weekend, fighting between Syrian rebels and Assad’s forces led to projectiles falling on the Israeli side
of the border, in response to which, Israel struck Syrian tanks.
According to Algolany, a number of active “revolutionary factions” near the Golan border formed a unified “operations room” under the name “Operations of the Army of Muhammad.”
Israel strikes Syrian targets in response to earlier cross-border fire, June 24, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
They launched an attack – dubbed “There is no God but you, O God” – to push Assad’s forces out of the Quneitra area.
“The regime forces shell civilian homes, villages and towns adjacent to the Golan Heights,” said Algolany. His statements agree with other information online that claims five different rebel groups cooperated in last week’s attacks against an area called “Ba’ath City,” about one kilometer from the Israeli border, near the ruins of the old town of Quneitra. The area can be easily seen from the Israeli side. Over the last week Israel struck Syrian regime positions several times after shells fired by the regime at rebels fell on the Israeli side of the border.
The Syrian rebels are facing reinforcements from Hezbollah as well as “Iranian Shi’ite militias” that prop-up Assad’s forces in the area, according to Algolany.
“The rebels managed to control the first defensive lines of the Assad militia in Ba’ath City and eastern Samadaniyah, which is located near the city. They killed 108 members of the Assad regime, including high-ranking officers. They destroyed three tanks.”
Video posted on Twitter claimed to show the successes of the battle and rebels launching anti-tank missiles. Syrian regime reports claimed the Syrian Army’s 90th brigade recaptured areas the rebels took last week.
However, the rebels face many hurdles in the attempt to dislodge Assad’s forces or change the situation. That situation has remained largely the same for several years, with Assad in control of a line of villages near Majdal Shams and the rebels holding a large area in the central Golan, stretching south toward the Jordanian border and Daraa City.
“Unfortunately there is no Jordanian or American support,” said Algolany. He asserted that Jordan still keeps its nearby border closed to humanitarian crossings and does not allow wounded to cross. “The Assad regime planes committed massacres in Nabaa Al Sakhr in rural Quneitra, killing five civilians, including children and women and a number of wounded who Jordan did not allow to be treated.”
For years, foreign reports have said Israel was treating wounded from Syria, and Algolany said that with difficulties, small numbers have been treated in Israel. “There are a number of wounded in hospitals in Quneitra, including civilians, and we are waiting for Jordan or Israel to allow them to enter for treatment.”
The Syrian rebel factions near the Golan face not only Syrian regime forces and their Iranian and Hezbollah allies, but also have to contend with a pocket of Islamic State that has taken root in the last two years in the southern Golan. ISIS-affiliate Jaish Khaled bin al-Walid has been fighting near the village of Jillen near Daraa and there have been clashes with the rebels.
“The rebels foiled their attempts,” said the spokesman.
He also said the presence of Nusra Front – now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – is very sparse in the area near the Golan. Nusra, the Syrian version of al-Qaida, was once stronger near the border, but its presence has not been mentioned recently in the battles near the Golan.
The spokesman said rebels “appeal to all humanity and countries in the world to open humanitarian corridors for the Syrian people at home, especially for wounded to cross.” Algolany also said that countries should support the Free Syrian Army.
He further said countries should give “all types of weapons and military support in order to be able to eliminate the Shi’ite terrorist militias and Iranian gangs of the Assad terrorist regime.” Algolany wants the West and other countries to support Syrian rebels against “Hezbollah’s terrorist militias” which “committed massacres against civilians through field executions, or even knives.”