Military Wiki
Rif Dimashq offensive (September–November 2013)
Part of the Syrian civil war (Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign)
Rif Dimashq offensive (September 2013).svg
Frontlines in Rif Dimashq in late February 2014

     Syrian Government control      Opposition control      Contested

For a war map of the current situation in Rif Dimashq, see here.
Date10 September – 28 November 2013
(2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day)
LocationRif Dimashq, Syria

Syrian Army victory

  • Government forces capture seven towns south and southeast of Damascus
  • Rebels launch an offensive in an attempt to break the siege of Eastern Ghouta[6]

Syria Free Syrian Army Al-Nusra Front[1]

Syrian Armed Forces 23x15px National Defense Force

Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas[4]
Arab Nationalist Guard[5]
Commanders and leaders
Khaled al-Haboush
(Damascus Military Council commander)
Abu Mohammad al-Golani
(Al-Nusra Front leader)

Syria Bashar Al-Assad
Issam Zahreddine[7]
(Republican Guard Brigade 104 commander)

Wissam Sharafeddine
(Hezbollah commander)
Units involved
Unknown 3rd Armoured Division
4th Armoured Division
10th Mechanised Division
11th Armoured Division
Republican Guard

4,500 fighters[8]

  • 750–1,000 al-Nusra fighters[9]
70,000 soldiers,[10] 500 tanks
Casualties and losses
at least 1,000 rebels killed[11][12] 115+ soldiers killed[11]

The Rif Dimashq offensive (September–November 2013) was a Syrian Army offensive in the Rif Dimashq Governorate, that was launched in mid-September 2013, as part of the Syrian civil war.


Threatened by a Western intervention after the 2013 Ghouta attacks, the Syrian Army had repositioned in early-September. Once the threat had passed, the Army launched the new offensive against rebel positions, primarily in the southern suburbs of Damascus.

The offensive

Airport road and Sayyidah Zaynab secured

On 10 September, the military and pro-government militiamen made a push into Barzeh in an attempt to capture the district as three air raids were conducted against the suburb. Government forces also attacked the eastern suburb of Deir Salman, near Damascus airport.[13]

On 14 September, Colombian journalist William Parra was shot in the leg by a rebel sniper in Harasta while covering for TeleSUR.[14]

On 19 September, the Syrian Army retook control of the strategic town of Shaba’a, near the capital, after heavy fighting. The Army also secured the road to Damascus international airport and regained control of strategic roads leading to the holy Sayyidah Zaynab mausoleum.[15][16]

Western Ghouta Army advances

On 9 October, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite fighters, backed up by artillery, air-strikes and tanks, attacked and captured the town of Sheikh Omar, on the southern outskirts of Damascus.[17] On 11 October, Army troops and pro-government Shia fighters captured the two southern suburbs of al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya near Damascus, killing at least 70 people.[18] The capture of the three towns, located between the two main highways leading to Jordan, strengthened the government hold on major supply lines and put more pressure on rebels under siege in the Eastern Ghouta area.[19]

On 16 October, the Army, with the help of Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militants from the Abul Fadl al-Abbas brigade, captured the strategic town of Bweida, south of Damascus.[20][21]

On 23 October, the Army sealed any remaining smuggling routes into Eastern Ghouta and intensified its blockade over the region.[22] At this point, there were indications that the military was preparing to start a new phase of its offensive, which will target the Western Ghouta area, south of Damascus.[23]

On 24 October, the military captured the town of Hatetat al-Turkman, which is located southeast of Damascus, along the Damascus International Airport road.[24] Only hours later, some 40 al-Nusra and Liwa al-Islam rebels were killed in an ambush by the Syrian Army near the town of Otaybah, northeast of the International Airport.[25][26]

On 30 October, an operation conducted by the Syrian Red Crescent, in coordination with the Syrian authorities and the rebels, was allowed to evacuate 800 civilians from Mouadamiyat al-Sham, a rebel town besieged by the Army. A few days earlier, another operation allowed 3,000 civilians to leave.[27]

On 1 November, the Syrian Army, backed by Hezbollah fighters, attacked and advanced in Al-Sabinah.[28] The next day, the military shelled Al-Sabinah while the Army advanced in Barzeh.[29]

On 7 November, the Army, backed by Hezbollah, the Al-Abbas brigade and the National Defense Force, retook the key town of Al-Sabinah, south of Damascus. According to an opposition activist, military "progress on the ground without a doubt, because the regions were besieged for too long. This is normal." Opposition activist director Abdel Rahman also blamed "divisions within the rebels."[30]

On 10 November, government forces launched an attack against Hejeira and A'qraba.[31] By the afternoon, the Army and its allies advanced in Hejeira al-Balad[32] while the military launched an attack against rebel positions in Hajar al-Aswad.[33][34]

On 11 November, the Army made gains in Barzeh capturing large parts of the neighborhood. Army units also destroyed a tunnel which ran under the neighborhood.[35][36]

On 12 November, it was reported by Palestinian officials that a truce had been reached to end fighting in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, however, clashes were still being reported. It was confirmed that PLO representatives were in Damascus to hold talks with government officials. The aim was to reach an agreement under which both the Army and rebel forces would withdraw from the camp, after which, the Syrian police would take over security in the camp, while Army checkpoints would be set up on its outskirts. Recently, government forces managed to advance a few hundred meters into the camp, but rebels were still holed up inside it. The rebel's position had become increasingly difficult in previous weeks due to the Army's advances which threatened to cut rebel supply lines.[37]

On 13 November, government forces captured most of Hejeira, with some pockets of resistance still remaining.[38] Rebels retreated from Hejeira to Hajar al-Aswad, losing their urban cover. However, their defenses in besieged districts closer to the heart of Damascus were still reportedly solid.[39]

On 15 November, government forces captured most of Babila and Yalda, to the east of Hajar al-Aswad.[40] However, state news agency SANA reported continued fighting in Yalda on 19 November,[41] and pro-Assad Iranian news agency PressTV reported "heavy clashes" in the district on 21 November, claiming "dozens" of rebels were killed or wounded by government forces.[42]

By 16 November, more than 70 percent of Harasta was under the control of the Army.[43][44] The next day, according to the opposition activist group the SOHR, three generals and a brigadier-general were among 31 troops killed in a bomb attack that caused a building in the Army transport base in Harasta to collapse.[45][46] Two days later, the number of soldiers killed in the bomb blast had risen to 68.[47]

On 22 November, government forces captured the town of Hatita in the Damascus countryside.[48]

Eastern Ghouta rebel counter-attack

On 22 November,[6] rebel forces made an attempt to break the blockade of Eastern Ghouta by attacking the town of Otaiba[49] and a string of military checkpoints encircling the opposition-held Damascus suburbs.[6] Fighting over three days killed 194 combatants. Among the dead were 115 rebels,[50] including seven battalion commanders,[51] and 79 government fighters. 50 of the dead rebels were jihadists, while 20 of the dead pro-government fighters were members of a Shiite Iraqi group and five were Hezbollah militiamen. Seven opposition media activists were killed as well while covering the fighting.[50]

By 25 November, the rebels managed to capture several small villages and checkpoints, but the blockade was still in place. According to a military source, the rebels captured seven villages, but the Army recaptured three of them, with the opposition forces still attempting to capture Otaiba. Fighting was also continuing around the rebel-held town of Marj al-Sultan.[50] A Hezbollah source also confirmed that the rebels captured several villages and Hezbollah positions after their units came under a human wave attack by hundreds of rebel fighters. Following the rebel advance, Hezbollah special forces from Beirut were mobilized and sent to the battle.[52] The SOHR confirmed Hezbollah had sent “hundreds of fighters” to reinforces the Army in its bid to repulse the rebel assault.[53]

On 26 November, the Army hit Marj al-Sultan with five surface-to-surface missiles.[54]

On 27 November, the situation in Eastern Ghouta remained unclear. Several pro-opposition websites claimed rebel advances in the area. However, opposition media activists on the ground in Eastern Ghouta denied the claims and stated that opposition forces were still besieged. Meanwhile, 17 rebel fighters were killed in fighting in the town of Moadamiyeh in Western Ghouta.[55]

On 28 November, another 11 rebels[56] and three Hezbollah fighters were killed in the Marj area.[57]

Between 25 and 28 November, more than 135 rebel fighters and more than 85 government soldiers and militiamen were killed in the offensive, among them five members of the pro-government Iraqi group who were captured and then beheaded by jihadist fighters. The Hezbollah death toll in the clashes had reached 16 since 22 November, according to SOHR, with the overall toll for both sides at this point being around 410.[58][59][60][61] However, according to a Hezbollah commander in Beirut, 21–40 Hezbollah fighters had been killed in the fighting by 25 November,[52] while Lebanese security sources said 25 Hezbollah militiamen died in the previous week,[62] including four who were killed during the Army offensive in the Qalamoun mountains.[63] The most prominent Hezbollah commander in the Damascus countryside, Wissam Sharafeddine, was also killed.[64]

According to Lebanese media, 1,000 rebels were killed during the opposition offensive in Eastern Ghouta, including top military commanders.[12][65][66]

Aftermath – Adra massacre and Al-Otaiba ambush

On 11 December, the rebel Islamic Front and Al-Nusra Front groups[67] infiltrated the industrial area of the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus, attacking buildings housing workers and their families. The rebels targeted Alawites, Druse, Christians and Shiites, killing them on a sectarian basis. Some people were shot while others were beheaded.[68] The killings lasted into the next day.[67] In all some 19[68]–40[67] minority civilians were massacred, as the rebels captured the industrial part of Adra.[69] 18 pro-government militiamen were also killed,[70] including five PLA members.[71] Several rebels died when a Shiite man blew himself up along with them and his family after the rebels attempted to kill them.[68]

On 13 December, the military surrounded Adra[68] and started an operation to push out rebel fighters from the area,[70] making advances in the town during the day.[68] As of the next day, the operation was still continuing.[72]

By 15 December, the number of minority civilians confirmed killed in the rebel attack on Adra had risen to 32. Dozens of others were missing.[73]

On 26 February 2014, some 152–175+ rebels were killed in a single ambush near Otaiba. At least seven others were captured.[74][75]


  1. Yezdani, İpek (2 September 2012). "Rebels fighting against al-Assad rule fragmented, disorganized in Syria". Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  2. "BBC Arabic: Groups affiliated to al-Qaeda carry out acts of terror". Champress. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  3. "Syrie: l'armée et le Hezbollah reprennent une nouvelle localité près de Damas - L'Orient-Le Jour". 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  4. Blanford, Nicholas (18 January 2013). "Video appears to show Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiites fighting in Syria". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  5. فيديو: الجيش النظامي السوري يعزز سيطرته على دمشق ومحيطها France 24, 22 January 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Scores killed as rebels fight siege of Damascus suburbs - Middle East Israel News". Haaretz. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  7. "Civilian Brigades Are Helping Syrian Army Control Territory". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  8. "Heavy fighting continues in Mliha near Damascus". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  9. Ignatius, David (30 November 2012). "Al-Qaeda affiliate playing larger role in Syria rebellion". Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  10. Yacoub, Khaled. "Syrian forces kill 26 in bombardment east of capital - opposition". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Syrian events continue to develop in Geneva, Ghouta". Al Monitor. 20 December 2013. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Top Commanders among 1000 Takfiris Killed in Recent Ghouta Battle". Al-Manar. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  13. "Syria backs chemical weapons plan, planes bomb Damascus". TODAYonline. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  14. "Mercenaries injure Telesur special envoy to Syria". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  15. "PressTV - Syrian army continues mop-up ops: Military sources". 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  16. "Army destroys rebels’ tunnels in Rif Damascus". 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  17. "Syrian opposition: Hezbollah, Iraqi militia capture Damascus suburb | JPost | Israel News". JPost. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  18. "Syrian army troops and Shia fighters loyal to Pres... - Live Blogs - Al Jazeera English". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  19. "Syrian army retakes two Damascus suburbs from rebels - activists - World | The Star Online". 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  20. "Syria army hails recapture of rebel town near Damascus | News , Middle East". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  21. "Syria army hails recapture of rebel town near Damascus | News , Middle East". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  22. Solomon, Erika (2013-10-23). "Syrian army siege east of capital tightens as food, supplies dwindle - Yahoo News". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  23. "Syria’s Next Major Battle Set for West Ghouta". Al Akhbar English. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  24. Dziadosz, Alexander. "Syrian army seizes Damascus suburb from rebels: state TV". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  25. "Syria: Troops kill 40 rebels near Damascus | News , Middle East". The Daily Star. 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  26. "Syrian Troops Ambush Rebels, Killing 40—State Media - Wall Street Journal -". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  27. "Assad refuse les ingérences étrangères à la conférence de Genève-2 - L'Orient-Le Jour". 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  28. "Israël frappe la Syrie, Brahimi toujours en quête de consensus sur Genève-2 - L'Orient-Le Jour". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  29. "Syrie : l'armée de l'air bombarde les zones rebelles près de Damas - L'Orient-Le Jour". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  30. "Aidée par le Hezbollah, l'armée syrienne reprend une cité clé près de Damas - L'Orient-Le Jour". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  31. Shelling and clashes in Damascus
  32. 9 wounded in mortar on the Jaramana
  33. Shelling and clashes in the Black Stone
  34. Provide regular troops in the country cubicle Damascus Suburbs
  35. "‫كاميرا RT ترصد تقدم الجيش السوري في حي برزة بريف دمشق". RT. 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  36. "PressTV - Army makes new gains against Takfiri militants across Syria". 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  37. "PLO in Damascus for talks to end camp siege | News , Middle East". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  38. "Syrian army captures suburb south of Damascus". 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  39. Yacoub, Khaled (2013-11-13). "Assad's forces make further gains around Damascus". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  40. Progress of the Regime is supported by Hezbollah in southern Damascus
  41. [1]
  42. "Syrian army continues operations across country". Press TV. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  43. (2013-11-17). "Syrian army pushes back militants near capital". Islam Times. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  44. [2][dead link]
  45. "Blast near Damascus kills 31 troops: monitor". The Daily Star. 17 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  46. "31 troops killed in blast near Damascus". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  47. Front victory and withdraw from the continent Taatuadbalaudh strongly and 68 dead blew Harasta
  48. Battlefield lessons in Syria strengthen Hezbollah's fighting force
  49. Solomon, Erika (2013-11-23). "Islamist rebels capture Syria's largest oilfield: activists". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 "Syria rebels press advance around Damascus and Aleppo". Your Middle East. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  51. "Syria: Fighting near Damascus kills 160". Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  52. 52.0 52.1 Prothero, Mitchell (2013-11-21). "BEIRUT: Hezbollah takes casualties in Syrian rebel offensive; peace talks set for January | Syria". McClatchy DC. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  53. "Bomber kills 15 west of Damascus | Arab News — Saudi Arabia News, Middle East News, Opinion, Economy and more". Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  54. "AFP: Syria regime, opponents dig in ahead of talks". 2013-09-25. Archived from the original on 2013-11-30. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  55. Battles rage around Damascus, jihadists slay rival rebel leader
  56. Syrian troops recapture key town near capital
  57. Fighting rages near Damascus
  58. 183 died yesterday, including 137 from the regular forces and combat battalions
  59. 233 died yesterday, including 14 children and 10 women
  60. 189 died yesterday, including 145 from the regular forces and combat battalions
  61. 226 died yesterday, including 171 from the regular forces and combat battalions
  62. Assad forces recapture Christian town
  63. Nephew of a top Hezbollah official killed in Syria
  64. Hezbollah commander ‘Sayyed Nasrallah’ Killed in Syria
  65. Syria: Saudi Loses Battle for Damascus
  66. How Saudi Arabia is losing the battle for Damascus
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 Islamists kill 15 Alawite and Druze civilians in Syria -activists
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 68.4 Syrian troops launch offensive after dozens killed
  69. Many civilians feared dead as rebels capture town near Damascus
  70. 70.0 70.1 Syria army aims to expel rebels from town on road to capital
  71. Wednesday 11 December 2013
  72. Syria rebel commander freezes to death: activists
  73. 36 people killed in Aleppo air raids
  74. 175 rebels killed near Damascus, Syrian government says
  75. "State media says Syrian Army killed 175 rebels". Daily Star. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).