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2014 Daraa offensive
Part of the Syrian civil war
Date3 February – ongoing
(8 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
LocationDaraa Governorate and Quneitra Governorate Syria
Result

Ongoing

  • Rebel attack on Busra al-Sham repelled[2]
  • Army captures two areas south of Quneitra city[3]
  • Rebels capture the Gharaz central prison and grain silos
Belligerents

Syria Free Syrian Army Islamic Front

Al-Nusra Front[1]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Commanders and leaders
Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir
(FSA Chief of Staff, 16 February 2014–present)[4]
Brigadier General Salim Idris
(FSA Chief of Staff, until 16 February 2014)[5]
Maj. Gen. Suheil Salman Hassan
(5th Armoured Division)
Units involved
58 brigades[6]
  • 5th Armoured Division (Syria)
  • 12th Armored Brigade
  • 15th Mechanized Brigade
  • 112th Mechanized Brigade
  • 132nd Mechanized Brigade
  • 175th Artillery Regiment

9th Armored Division

  • 52nd Armored Brigade[7]
Strength
30,000[8] 17,000 soldiers and militiamen
[8]


The 2014 Daraa offensive (also known as the Battle of Geneva Houran) is a campaign during the Syrian civil war launched by the Free Syrian Army (or FSA) to push back government forces in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda provinces in south-west Syria, and thus opening the road to Damascus.[9] The offensive was launched on 3 February 2014 and declared after a meeting between FSA battalions and Islamic factions, which established a joint operations room.[10] It was also reported that the FSA operations rooms in Daraa, Damascus and Quneitra were incorporated in this joint operations room as well.[6] Local rebel commanders stated that thousands of rebels who had western military training would be involved in the Daraa offensive. Gulf states had promised to send rebels in Daraa large amounts of weaponry, including anti tank weapons and air missiles[11]

Offensive

In the first days of the offensive, it was reported that rebels captured the Atman checkpoint in Daraa, destroying another one[6] and captured army positions around the town of Atman.[12]

On 14 February, 49 rebel groups affiliated with the FSA announced that they united under one armed entity called The Southern Front.[13] That same day a car bomb killed at least 33 people (including 12 rebel fighters) in the rebel-held village of Yabuda. Activists accused the Syrian government to be behind the attack.[14] It was also reported that 22 people (including 19 civilians) were killed by air strikes on rebel-held areas in Daraa province.[15]

On 16 February, Brigadier General Salim Idris was dismissed and replaced by Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir as FSA Chief of Staff.[4]

On 18 February, rebels from the town of Busra al-Harir, in the eastern part of Daraa province attacked and captured the military outpost known as the Chemicals Battalion or Kimyaa Battalion, west of Dwera village, but the Syrian Army recaptured it hours later. During the fighting, 22 soldiers and dozens of rebels were killed or injured.[2][16] In conjunction with the attack on the post, rebels attacked the city of Busra al-Sham, near Daraa's border with the southwest of Suwaida province. However, government forces were able to repulse the attack. For its part, the Army launched a surprise offensive during the morning using tanks and air strikes against the villages of al-Hajjeh, al-Dawayeh al-Kubra, al-Sughra, Bir Ajam and al-Buraika in the central and southern parts of al-Quneitra.[2]

On 19 February, the Syrian Air Force began heavy air raids on rebel positions in Daraa governorate, as rebel fighters were preparing for a major push towards Damascus in the following days.[17]

On 22 February, according to a military source, government forces captured the areas of Rasm al-Hour and Rasm al-Sad, south of the town of Quneitra. The opposition activist group the SOHR confirmed troops were on the offensive, with the Air Force also taking part in the attack.[3]

On 23 February, nine rebel groups (including Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham) announced the start of a new battle focused on eight military zones belonging to the 61th Brigade in western Daraa countryside.[1]

On the night of 25 February, rebels, led by the Al-Nusra Front, made an attempt to capture the Tal Al Jabiyeh military facility, which reportedly contained chemical weapons. International military commanders based in Jordan warned the rebels to leave the weapons alone and hand them over to them in the case they capture the bunker complex or an Israeli airstrike would be called in on the location. The rebels agreed. However, by the next day, rebels were still pushing to take control of Tal Al Jabiyeh. The Amman command centre than halted all weapons supplies to the assaulting forces, apparently in a successful effort to delay their advance on the bunker. Without supplies, the rebels were forced to consolidate their positions around the base and not seek to capture it. Over the next two days, government reinforcements arrived and by 1 March the military managed to push back the rebels.[18]

On 26 February, the Syrian Army tried to advance towards the towns of Inkhil and Nawa.[19]

On 27 February, the Syrian Army reinforced their positions to the south of the village of Al-Nuaimeh, while the rebels tightened the siege they had imposed on Army checkpoints in the area, in an attempt to block reinforcements from reaching government troops.[20]

On 11 March, the Syrian Air Force conducted seven airstrikes on rebel-held areas in southern Daraa province, while the district of Daraa Al-Balad was bombarded by the 285th battalion.[21]

On 19 March, the rebels took control of the central Gharaz prison in Daraa province[22] after the Syrian Army retreated towards the grain silos. An opposition source stated that 294 prisoners were freed.[23] Other sources stated that about 300 to 400 prisoners were freed and claimed that the vehicle training grounds to the south of the prison and a “secret facility” were also captured by the rebels.[24] After the capture of the prison, the battlefront shifted towards the silos in an attempt by the rebels to take control of them.[23]

As of 20 March, rebels in Daraa were unable to progress north past the line of government-held towns at Nawa, Sheikh Maskeen and Izraa. The Army had also taken up defensive positions, but it could not attack from these positions. Overall, a stalemate ensued. The main reason for the lack of a rebel advance was said to be that no new weapons had arrived across the border from Jordan.[25]

On 21 March, opposition sources claimed that rebels captured the grain silos and the Gharz gas station, located near the Daraa Gharaz prison. Rebels also claimed to have seized armoured vehicles after the fighting. After the capture of the silos, heavy clashes broke out on the perimeter of the Qussad military checkpoint, while the Syrian Air Force bombarded the Gharz area.[26] The SOHR reported by the end of the day that the rebels also took the Qussad military checkpoint.[27]

On 2 April, it was reported that the Army bombed and shelled several rebel-held villages and towns in the province, killing at least one person. The rebels also continued their assault against the air force intelligence headquarters in Daraa city.[28]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 9 military fighting groups combine in a battle against regime forces
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Syrian army prepares for an attack from its southern border
  3. 3.0 3.1 Syrian troops advance near Golan Heights city
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Free Syrian Army fires military chief". Al Jazeera English. 16 February 2014. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/02/free-syrian-army-fires-military-chief-201421742719901171.html. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  5. Mroue, Bassem; Suzan Fraser (2012-12-08). "Syria Rebels Create New Unified Military Command". Associated Press. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/08/syria-rebels-military-council_n_2263256.html. Retrieved 2012-12-08. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Southern Comfort". NOW News. 12 February 2014. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/535135-southern-comfort. 
  7. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/168052#.UwdAWONdWtE
  8. 8.0 8.1 Does the “Southern Front” Exist?
  9. Syria war: new push against Assad being planned, reports suggest
  10. "Opposition battalions launch joint "Geneva Houran Battle" in Daraa". Syria Newsdesk. 3 February 2014. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2014/02/03/news-opposition-battalions-launch-joint-geneva-houran-battle-daraa. 
  11. http://news.yahoo.com/syria-rebels-planning-damascus-spring-offensive-181346336.html
  12. "Rebels flush with Western arms take battle to Assad’s forces in southern Syria". World Tribune. 3 February 2014. http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/02/03/rebels-flush-with-western-arms-take-battle-to-assads-forces-in-southern-syria/. 
  13. "Moderate Rebel Groups Unite in Southern Syria". The Syrian Observer. 14 February 2014. http://www.syrianobserver.com/News/News/Moderate+Rebel+Groups+Unite+in+Southern+Syria. 
  14. Car bomb in Syria's Daraa province kills at least 33 people
  15. Syria warplanes hit Yabrud near Damascus
  16. "Violent clashes continue in Hama and Bombardment on Der'a". SOHR. 19 February 2014. http://syriahr.com/en/index.php?option=com_news&nid=1705&Itemid=2&task=displaynews#.UwlfN_ldVqV. 
  17. Syrian air force steps up attacks in south
  18. Siege of Syrian arms depot exposes chemical weapons fears
  19. "Clashes escalate on Syria's southern front". Al-Monitor. 26 February 2014. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/02/syria-southern-front-escalation-clashes-damascus.html. 
  20. "Clashes rage near city of Daraa". Syria Newsdesk. 27 February 2014. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2014/02/27/news-clashes-rage-near-city-daraa. 
  21. Seven airstrikes target city of Daraa
  22. "Syria army fighting for control of Krak fort: official". The Daily Star. 19 March 2014. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Mar-19/250704-syria-army-fighting-for-control-of-krak-fort-official.ashx#axzz2uAA4pFGD. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Opposition forces capture Daraa Central Prison, release detainees". Syria Newsdesk. 19 March 2014. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2014/03/19/news-opposition-forces-capture-daraa-central-prison-release-detainees. 
  24. "Syria: Insurgents Capture Prison in Daraa". EA WorldView. 19 March 2014. http://eaworldview.com/2014/03/syria-insurgents-capture-prison-daraa/. 
  25. Mohammed Ali al-Haj Ali and Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, THREE YEARS LATER, SOUTH SYRIA’S DARAA PROVINCE LOCKED IN STALEMATE, 20 March 2014, Syria:direct
  26. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2014/03/21/news-fsa-seizes-strategic-checkpoint-daraa
  27. A summary of events on Friday, 21/03/2014
  28. Violence flares around Damascus

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