Bellingcat

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Update On The Yabrud Offensive From Elijah J Magnier

A special report by Elijah J Magnier on the ongoing Yabrud Offensive.  His earlier reports on the opening stages of the Offensive can be found here and here.

Battle of Qalamoun: First revelation on Qusseyr battle
  • 9 killed and 21 wounded among Hezbollah fighters in the first 10 days in Qalamoun when over 250 were registered between dead and wounded in the first 10 days of Qussyr
  • Hezbollah/SAA forces moved 1500 meters inside Rima Farms
  • Over 15000 Hezbollah fighters involved in Qalamoun along with SAA
  • Nusrallah ordered to slow down the advance to avoid losses
High-ranking officer within the joint military operational room run by Hezbollah and SAA in Syria claimed, Most cities in Qalamoun are today under fire control. In one or two cities, inhabitants and FSA have decided to stop rebels from accessing to avoid the battle. Other cities refused to continue negotiating, intimidated by rebels. At the moment, the main ‘arrow advance’ of attacking forces is taking place in Rima Farms were forces advanced 1500 meters inside the farms. The objective is to reach Yabrud from North. Nine Hezbollah fighters have been killed and 21 wounded in the first 10 days of the battle’. According to the source, ‘Hezbollah Leader Sayed Hasan Nusrallah instructed his men to move slowly, ignoring time factor, to reduce losses. We are fully aware that, once the battle rhythm increases, the number of live losses will increase as well.

In the first revelation ever made about the battle of Qusseyr, the source confirmed, “In the first 10 days of Qusseyr battle, over 250 Hezbollah fighters were killed and wounded. Therefore, the military tactic has changed. We are surrounding each city to isolate it from others. As far as it concerns (rebels) mountain position and stronghold, as soon as the city of Yabrud falls, the rebels logistic support for those taking refuge in mountains and caves will be cut off and terminated, making their resistance more difficult on the long term”.

He added, “In several locations in Qalamoun, close combat have taken place. The rebels managed to destroy many (SAA) vehicles and tanks. That is a normal outcome because we, the attacking forces, are manoeuvring, spreading forces and advancing in a large geographic area. While the rebels have taken refuge in different static locations. As in every battle, there are losses taken into account, particularly in Qalamoun where a very high number of rebels is gathering, unwilling to surrender.”

The source concluded: ”Hezbollah has injected in Qalamoun battle over 15000 fighters in a vast area, manoeuvring and holding the initiative of attack and deciding upon the location of close contact. That is offering a unique experience in fighting al-Qaeda and other enemies should these arises.” 

5 comments:

  1. I don't know if I believe these numbers. 15,000 is a LOT.

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  2. Slow and steady it seems, learning from Qusseyr only a matter of time before it falls good to have theses updates, unlike other sources of media.

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  3. This series of three blog posts are the best (English-language) reporting that I have seen on the Yabroud offensive. Hopefully, there will be more updates.

    The figure of 15,000 Hezbollah fighters is so high as to raise a question as to its accuracy. Hezbollah keeps its manpower strength secret and estimates to be found on the internet are all over the place. However, considering that Hezbollah must man defenses on the Lebanese border with Israel, and that Hezbollah needs fighters in Lebanon itself deal with Sunni terrorists and to guard its power base, I wonder if the 15,000 figure was not a deliberate Hezbollah exaggeration to intimidate the rebels.

    At the other extreme, a February 26, 2014 USA Today article reports an interview with a Hezbollah commander named "Abou Ali" who says that Hezbollah has about 150 fighters near Yabroud. That figure of 150 seems way inadequate for an operation of this reported size. I wonder if USA Today's source was legitimate or whether there was a mistake in translation. Also, the USA Today article has several major errors as to basic, uncontroverted facts about the Syrian Religious Civil War.

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    1. Of course the 15,000 fighters is a wrong and useless number and everyone knows it. No military leader of their right mind would give that kind of information to the enemy. No reason to make life easier for your foes.

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  4. Today's source was legitimate or whether there was a mistake in translation. Also, the USA Today article has several major errors as to basic, uncontroverted facts about the Syrian Religious Civil War.Ratings and reviews SA

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