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The Battle for Damascus: The Current State of Play in Syria
 

The Battle for Damascus: The Current State of Play in Syria

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Recent rebel victories in the Syrian capital region, such as the closure of the Damascus International airport, have led to speculation that the Assad regime may be close to collapse. While this is ...

Recent rebel victories in the Syrian capital region, such as the closure of the Damascus International airport, have led to speculation that the Assad regime may be close to collapse. While this is possible, it is also important to recognize that the regime still maintains control of downtown Damascus despite these significant victories for the opposition. This elevates the question of where specifically the regime still maintains control in Damascus.

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    The Battle for Damascus: The Current State of Play in Syria The Battle for Damascus: The Current State of Play in Syria Presentation Transcript

    • • Recent rebel victories in the Syrian capital region, such as the closure of the Damascus International airport, have led to speculation that the Assad regime may be close to collapse. While this is possible, it is also important to recognize that the regime still maintains control of downtown Damascus despite these significant victories for the opposition. This elevates the question of where specifically the regime still maintains control in Damascus.• The regime has consolidated much of its forces in the Damascus city center and reduced patrolling in suburbs with robust opposition presence. In retaliation for rebel activity in these neighborhoods, the regime is responding broadly with air strikes and artillery, and with civilian massacres in the Sunni southern neighborhoods of Damascus.• A operational map that may derive from a Syrian Republican Guard source has surfaced through social media. The map portrays where the regime retains control in the capital region, as well as the areas that are rebel held or contested. If genuine, it also provides the regime’s perspective on the state of play in Damascus. ISW has adapted this map and augmented to include the locations of regime military facilities in Damascus as well as ISW observed attack trends. The map appears to be an accurate guideline; however, it does not suggest that the regime is incapable of patrolling in rebel held zones, nor that rebels cannot attack in regime held zones. In fact, most of the major car bombs have occurred within downtown Damascus.• Alawite-majority neighborhoods to the west of Damascus and critical military facilities close to downtown have bolstered regime security. On the other hand, rebel held zones in Damascus’ northeastern suburbs, known as Eastern Ghoutta, are surprisingly close to downtown Damascus. The fighting is likely to be most fierce in the southern suburbs of Damascus in the coming weeks as rebels and regime forces fight over key neighborhoods, such as Jaramana and Aqraba, consistent with the map’s depiction.
    • Damascus State of Play As of 7 December 2012 Al-Assad Harasta Barzeh Douma Qudssaya Irbin Saqba Damascus Zamalka Mazzeh 86 Al-Louan Yarmouk JaramanaMouadamiyah Yalda Aqraba Darayya Sayyida Zeinab Hajar al-AswadThis map is adapted from a document reportedly recovered from the Syrian Republican Guard troops thatcharacterizes the state of play in Damascus as of 11/25/2012. Original found on a Syrian Activist Facebook Page.
    • The original map displayed above was recovered 11/25/2012 from Facebook Page ‫“ يوميات الثائر المتفائل‬Diary of theOptimistic Rebel.” The Facebook page indicates that it was recovered from a Syrian Republican Guard source,which cannot be verified, but is assessed to be likely.
    • • 1 Harasta has had consistent presence from the 104th & 105th Regiments of theDamascus Al-Assad Douma Republican Guard. The so-called al-Assad suburb is a large housing complex behindAs of 7 December 2012 1 Harasta with a density of Alawites. Harasta Barzeh • 2 Qudssaya is called “The Lion’s Den” 2 Irbin because of the large number of Alawite Qudssaya regime supporters in this neighborhood. Damascus Zamalka 3 Saqba • 3 Mazzeh 86 is an Alawite slum and the Mazzeh 86 point of origin for many pro-regime militias, called Shabiha. Al-Louan 4 • 4 The rebels recently overran Marj e-Sultan 6 Yarmouk Airbase. 5 Jaramana Yalda • 5 Jaramana is ethnically mixed with many Mouadamiyah Darayya Aqraba 7 Druze. There have been reports of Sayyida Zeinab Popular Committees and pro-regime Hajar al-Aswad Shabiha working closely with regime forces there. • 6 Mazzeh Military airport and its nearby military bases are home to the 4th 8 Armored Division. These bases protect central Damascus from the rebel forces in Darayya and Moadamiyah. • 7 Seyedda Zeinab houses the SeyeddaDamascus is still a stronghold of the Assad regime, but according to this Zeinab shrine, an important Shia holymap not all of Damascus province falls under regime control. This map site. The neighborhood is dominated bymay illustrate the degree to which the Syrian Republican Guard (SRG) Shia, and there have been some reportscredits the opposition with territorial control in Damascus. Regime security that Iraqi Shia militants have travelled to the neighborhood to help protect it fromforces continue to defend in the West. Facilities and Shia neighborhoods the mostly-Sunni opposition.in the East are threatened by rebel expansion. Key military installations insouthern and western Damascus along with nearby Alawite-majority • 8 Recent probes and IDF at Damascusneighborhoods contribute significantly to the regime’s defenses. international airport have led the regime to close the airport, at least temporarily.
    • Damascus State of Play Al-Assad Douma As of 7 December 2012 Harasta Barzeh Qudssaya Irbin Damascus Zamalka Saqba Mazzeh 86 Al-Louan Yarmouk Jaramana Yalda Mouadamiyah Darayya Aqraba Sayyida Zeinab Hajar al-AswadThis map juxtaposes the SRG-assessed state of play in Damascus with a density map of kinetic events tracked byISW from 10/01/12 to 12/06/2012. Based upon this map, ISW has observed the highest levels of kinetic activity inEastern areas that are no longer contested by regime ground forces, although shelling and airstrikes continue.The SRG characterization of contested areas is also consistent with areas observed by ISW to have highdensities of kinetic events, such as Jaramana, Darayya, and Barzeh. It is also significant to note thatneighborhoods denoted as regime-held also witnesses a significant degree of kinetic activity, even in thewesternmost Mouadamiyah neighborhood, indicating that rebel forces can also attack Damascus from the West.The center of Damascus, where few events occur, is the actual regime stronghold.
    • @TheStudyofWar www.facebook.com/InstituteForTheStudyofWar