Military Wiki
Battle of Zabadani
Part of the Damascus clashes
of the Syrian civil war
Date7 – 18 January 2012 (First phase)
4 – 11 February 2012 (Second phase)
LocationZabadani, Rif Dimashq, Syria

FSA victory after the first phase.
Syrian Army victory after the second phase.

  • Free Syrian Army is left in control of the city.[2][3] and the adjoining town of Madaya mid-January.[4]
  • Syrian Army retakes control of Madaya[5] and takes control over Zabadani in mid-February.

Syria-flag 1932-58 1961-63.svg Syrian National Council

Syria Syrian government

Units involved

3rd Division

  • 49th Armoured Brigade
  • 132nd Mechanised Brigade

4th Division

  • 555th Airborne Regiment
250 FSA soldiers[6] 1,000 soldiers
300 armored vehicles,
100 tanks[7] (2nd phase)
(opposition claim)
Casualties and losses
80+ killed 30[8] – 40[9] killed
(opposition claim)

22 civilians killed (first phase)

100 killed (second phase)

The Battle of Zabadani took place in January through February 2012, during the Syrian civil war. During the initial stages of the battle, the rebel FSA took control of the town. However, less than a month later, the Army retook control of Zabadani, forcing rebel fighters to withdraw towards the Lebanese border.


First phase

The battle began when the city was stormed by the Syrian army on 7 January. This operation followed large-scale anti-government protests in the city and in the wider Rif Dimashq Governorate. An anti-government activist group claimed that 12 civilians including three children were killed when the town was bombarded by tanks in the initial operation.[10]

Zabadani was once again stormed by the Syrian army on 13 January. However, their attack was repelled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which held control of large parts of the city. The Syrian army held its positions on the outskirts. Amateur video footage obtained by Reuters showed armed FSA fighters patrolling empty streets.[11]

On 18 January, both sides agreed to a ceasefire. It was also agreed that the Syrian army would leave the city and that the FSA would remove its forces from the streets. A senior opposition figure, Kamal al-Labwani, said "I think stiff resistance and defections among the attacking forces have forced the regime to negotiate. We will see if it will stick to the deal". He claimed that 30 loyalist soldiers and an unknown number of defected soldiers had been killed during the battle on 13 January.[12]

The ceasefire was temporarily broken on 30 January, when an FSA fighter was killed by government troops. However, by the end of the day, the situation at Zabadani still remained tense but calm.[13]

A top Iranian Revolutionary Guard official said that Hezbollah forces took part in the fighting in Zabadani in January.[1]

Second phase

On 4 February, it was reported by activists that the Syrian army was shelling the area with mortars and firing on FSA troops with heavy machine guns, and had started to storm Zabadani's outskirts.[14][15] The Local Coordination Committees of Syria said that 300 armored vehicles, including 100 tanks were involved in the offensive. This report could not be verified independently.[7] The SOHR, another activist source based in London, said to the AFP that hundreds of armored vehicles assaulted the city of Zabadani on 6 February.[16] According to activist videos Zabadani was still under shelling on 7 February.[17]

On 8 February, activists said that at least 10 residents had died from the shelling in recent days, and state media reported that four members of the special forces were killed outside of Zabadani. They claimed that a number of opposition forces were killed in the clash.[18] It was also reported that during the fighting, a foreign jihadist, Abu Hamza al-Shami, was also killed.[19] Two days later, several activists sources reported that the Syrian army took control of Madaya, a city located just a few kilometers south of Zabadani which was, according to the same activists, surrounded and under a renewed shelling from the army.[5]

Military deployments in the vicinity of Az Zabadani between February 11 and February 13, 2012

The Local Coordination Committees said that the army was heavily pounding the city for a 6th day in a row with 150 shells hitting the city, killing seven people and injuring 40. They added that the Syrian army was located as close as 300 meters south of the city entrance. The Committee estimated that 300 armored vehicles and 30,000 soldiers were involved in the battle, but it could not be confirmed and was highly unlikely.[20]

On 11 February, the Syrian army entered Zabadani after a renewed shelling and seized parts of the town.[21] An exiled Syrian activist in Jordan said that a ceasefire had been agreed in Zabadani and that the army entered the city. It stipulates that the army would not pursue the rebels if they hand over their stolen weapons.[22] He added that 100 people were killed in the bombardment of the city.[23] A video was shown of a government tank in flames.[24]

On 13 February, activists reported that the Syrian army was conducting attacks and arrests in Zabadani and Madaya.[25][26] A contact of Irish Times journalist told that the army had arrested some rebel fighters and allowed others to flee, with ongoing house to house conducted. Many residents fled to Bludan were the red cross sent an aid convoy.[27] Footage of Zabadani was published on 13 February, on the Syrian State TV, showing interviews with residents and some of the weapons seized.[28] A pro-rebel resident said that the Syrian army broke a deal by sending soldiers to take over the city and said that dozens of people suspected of being rebels had been captured.[29]

Journalist John Ray and his cameraman made a video report about the battle, showing footage of the fighting and the advance of the Syrian army. The Army advanced from the city toward the hillsides where rebels were hiding, progressing and trapping the rebels against the Lebanon border.[30] The opposition-affiliated L.C.C. claimed that the Syrian army had arrested 250 members of the opposition.[31] A Lebanese smuggler told that the Syrian army had successfully cut the rebels supply lines in the city.[32]


Renewed fighting

A month later on 12 March, clashes were reported once again in Zabadani, with many being wounded.[33] On 27 March, the military shelled the town again, which killed four residents.[34] Two days later on 29 March, more fighting was reported in the town.[35]

May stalemate

In May, much of Zabadani was once again reportedly out of government control, with army checkpoints on the roads leading into and out of the city and security forces guarding government buildings in the town, but not venturing outside to such places as the central square. Around 450 FSA fighters were in the orchards outside of Zabadani, but they didn't have a presence in the town itself. Instead, opposition activists were reporting from within the city via walkie-talkies and organizing protests.[36][37]

See also

  • Rif Dimashq blockades


  1. 1.0 1.1 Syrian regime 'importing snipers' for protests
  2. [1][dead link]
  3. Rebels hail ‘first free town in Syria’ as Assad troops flee
  4. Syria’s Zabadani ‘liberated,’ but for how long?
  5. 5.0 5.1 Friday (2012-02-10). "EA WorldView - Home - Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests Amidst the Regime's Assault?". Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  6. Syria Live Blog Sun, 22 Jan 2012, 13:34 GMT+3
  7. 7.0 7.1 "21 Martyrs Till Now 6-2-2012 | Local coordination committees of Syria". 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  8. Fighting in Syria subsides after fragile ceasefire
  9. EU Imposes New Sanctions and Assad's Forces Retreat from Zabadani
  10. Syria tanks and troops 'enter protest town, Zabadani'
  11. Zabadani, Former Syria Resort, Now Rebel Stronghold
  12. Army, rebels agree to ceasefire in Zabadani; U.N. council struggles on Syria resolution
  13. Syrian Uprising Intensifies As Troops Defend Capital
  14. "Syrian troops launch attack on Zabadani, near Damascus - Monsters and Critics". 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  15. "U.S. floats coalition against Syria". CBS News. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  16. "Syria's cry for help as Bashar al Assad's forces 'launch major offensive in Homs'". Telegraph. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  17. "‫هام لوكالات الأنباء المدفعية تقصف الزبداني‬". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  18. Death toll mounts as attacks in Syria’s Homs resume after Russian peace foray
  19. Jihadist forums say fighters going to Syria
  20. Weaver, Matthew (2012-02-10). "Syria: bombs hit Aleppo as tanks pound Homs - Friday 10 February | World news |". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  21. [2][dead link]
  22. [3][dead link]
  23. Syria Rockets Homs As Arab League Meets In Cairo
  24. "Syria: Tank Set Ablaze in Zabadani". Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  25. Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "The Reasonable Reaction to Provocation"
  26. Syria draws U.N. ire as it heads toward 'war'
  27. Syrian army enters remaining insurgent strongholds
  28. Al-Zabadani people express relief after security is restored to the city
  29. Rebellious Syrian towns surrounded and struggling
  30. Nightly News: Under siege in Syria
  31. From Zabadany16-2-2012
  32. Enders, David (2012-02-22). "Syrian forces retake Zabadani as rebels withdraw, refugees say - World Wires". Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  33. Syria Live Blog Sun, 11 Mar 2012, 16:11 GMT+3
  36. Syria’s uprising: Try to stay peaceful
  37. The Syrian local newspapers creating a voice for the revolution

External links

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