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SYRIA: Jaish Al Islam Renew Attacks on Damascus from Terrorist Occupied Douma.

Smoke rises above Mleha yesterday in Eastern Ghouta. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

After ten days of  peace, mortars have returned to Damascus. A brief respite of around ten days of peace and security has been broken by the remaining Jaish Al Islam factions still embedded in Douma, the final pocket of Eastern Ghouta still under their control. 

Yesterday the foreign media teams were taken to Eastern Ghouta, accompanied by the Syrian Arab Army for our own security due to the risk of mines, IEDs, booby traps and potential for suicide bombings etc. As we tried to enter Mleha we were told of a suicide car bombing in Barzeh about 15km away and to the north-west of our position. We were held for a few minutes and then advised to turn back. Soldiers passed us in pick-up trucks, heading towards Mleha, and we could see smoke rising further down the road, gunfire rattled sporadically in the distance.

Jaish Al Islam attacked Al Rabweh, Damascus yesterday. (Photo: Syrian media)

The same day four civilians were killed in Damascus, among them a child and a woman. Twenty-two others were injured in the Jaish Al Islam attacks on the city centre that targeted Al Rabweh, Masaken, Barzeh, Al Mezzeh 86 neighbourhood and the surroundings of Umayyad Square. On a Friday it is a Damascene tradition for families to head to Al Rabweh for lunch and to spend the evening on the banks of the river in one of the colourful restaurants that line the roadside. This was deliberate targeting of busy civilian areas by Jaish Al Islam factions, backed by Saudi Arabia and hostile Gulf States.

Jaish Al Islam attacked Al Rabweh, Damascus yesterday. (Photo: Syrian media)

Last night the roar of jets overhead returned and the boom of Syrian Arab Army artillery echoed around the narrow cobbled streets of the Old City shaking the already fragile windows as people poured on to the streets for the start of the Orthodox Easter.

Crowded streets of the Old City, Damascus last night. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Early this morning I heard the return fire from Jaish Al Islam militants again targeting the civilian areas of Damascus. 7 mortar shells have hit Al Mezzeh 86 neighbourhood, the surroundings of Umayyad Square close by, Abu Remmaneh and Ish al Warwar areas. The inevitable material damage to houses, cars and public infrastructure has also resulted from these indiscriminate attacks.

The general director of Al Mowasat hospital in Damascus has announced that there are six dead already today, 38 injured and ten in critical condition. The following video just published by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows horrifying scenes from these deadly attacks across the city. Watch:

Yesterday, I had picked up the following statement from the Russian reconciliation centre:

“In accordance with the Russian Center for Reconciliation information on the 6th of April the shelling of Damascus and position of Government troops has been renewed. Mortar shelling and small arms firing are conducted by Jaysh al-Islam fighters leaded by Abu Qusay, who seized the power. Leaders of the group interrupted the evacuation of fighters and their family members and demanded to review previously agreed issues regarding the group disarmament.

Abu Qusay decided to use civilians as a human shield. With the aim to frighten population they executed civilians protesting against fighters staying in the area. Terrorists as well started preparing for execution of hostages. There are about 5 000 people, including women and children, in 2 JAI’s prisons.”

It was clear yesterday that the new leadership of Jaish Al Islam are digging in and will cause maximum damage to Damascus and its citizens before being militarily defeated or eventually evacuated.

Today on Twitter – Syrian/UK journalist Danny Makki published the following updates. The numbered points are taken directly from Makki’s Twitter thread.:

1: Yesterday the Russian negotiator & Jaysh al Islam agreed on several points & a deal was made pending final confirmation which would see weapons handed over, some militants taken to Jarablus and others to stay.

2: Then when the meeting occurred (yesterday) to formalize the arrangement’s Jaysh al-Islam withdrew from some of the agreed points & were given a time-frame to respond to.

3: Jaysh al Islam changed their negotiator for the meeting replacing Abo Ammar Dalwan (Head of JAI’s political office) to Abo Qusay al-Deirani assistant to the head of JAI & security official.

4: One of the reasons for JAI’s withdrawal from the negotiations at end of the meeting was due to issues over giving over heavy weapons, preferring to only give it over till a wider political solution is made, in Syria in terms of those wanting to stay in Douma.

5: The idea was those whose wanting to stay could stay and become an auxiliary force to the SAA fighting Nusra & ISIS or guarding Douma as a local police force.

6: Those who wanted to leave would be taken to Jarablus in Aleppo which is held by Turkish backed Euphrates Shield.

7: The agreement was that JAI gives over its heavy weapons only at the start of the process and the SAA withdraws its heavy weapons from around Douma in a de-escalation phase.

8: JAI asked the Russians If they could guarantee whether the SAA would withdraw their heavy weapons to which the Russians replied we can guarantee that warplanes won’t be used & some heavy weapons would be withdrawn accordingly.

9: Heavy weapons would be handed over to SAA with Russian military police observing the whole process over a period of three days.

10: Then over a period of 1 week, JAI handover its light and medium weapons, and the SAA withdraws its fighting units from the area.

11: Those who hand over their weapons can enter a reconciliation agreement & apply for joining the police force over a 2 week period and thus guard their area with Russia being the guarantor.

12: A fighting brigade of JAI remnants would also be created allowing those to fight alongside SAA against extremist groups elsewhere.

13: The new brigade & Police force made up of JAI remnants are given weapons and support by the Russians.

14: Russian military police was meant to be present at the checkpoints and the area to guarantee all of this.

15: After weapons are handed over to SAA, a committee from the Damascus C.S governorate comes into Douma and attempts to solve all of the issues the city is suffering from – services – water etc.

16: All civilians set to return to their homes, those in Douma facing military service would be given a temporary amnesty.

17: SAA and security forces won’t enter the city, then the pro government captives get handed back over to the SAA through the Russians.

18: Russians left meeting stating that they are awaiting a written response from JAI by 8.00 PM affirming that the handing over of weapons is compulsory for any deal to continue.

19: After that the negotiations stopped and a response never came, and since the afternoon today all hell has been breaking loose in Douma with heavy fighting and shelling, in both Douma and Damascus.

It appears that the primary issue for Jaish Al Islam is quite simply – nobody wants them, they are the pariahs of the terrorist community inside Syria. The only option open to them for evacuation is Jarablus. They will not be allowed to take their heavy armoury that has been accrued over years (if not decades) of smuggling & contraband activity financed largely by the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, with Israel as the midwife during the birth of one of the most brutal & tyrannical of the terrorist groups inside Syria.

Their inherent barbarism is now coming to the fore with an unprecedented viciousness. They have executed civilians who stand against them to put pressure on the Syrian government, loss of human life is of no consequence to them. The conservative estimate of prisoners incarcerated in their “repentance” prisons is 3,500 but many have told me they fear there are many more. Their lives now hang in the balance.

Lives will be lost if the Syrian  Arab Army intensify the military campaign against JAI now but lives are already being lost on a daily basis and freedom from terrorist occupation comes with a sickening and bloody price. Always it is the innocents who suffer.

SAA soldier in Jobar, Eastern Ghouta. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The soldiers I have seen in Eastern Ghouta appear haunted by that choice, one that has been imposed upon them by external powers – NATO member states, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia. These soldiers must witness the inevitable loss of life among their own people in order to free their own people who are being held hostage in urban areas by heavily armed extremist forces. That is not a choice, it is the horrific result of this regime change war that has driven an entire nation to make choices that defy all moral or ethical values. It is not a reflection of the Syrian Arab Army, nor of its allies – it is the reflection of those who are waging, financing & promoting this war for whom human life of any denomination is to be carelessly trodden underfoot in their rush towards their destructive objectives.

Jaish Al Islam have left the Russian reconciliation efforts and the Syrian government with very little negotiating room. They would reduce Syria to a “stone-age” nation of graveyards and they must be stopped. Violence begets violence in the minds of these backward extremists who see no way out of their self-imposed predicament and who will take all of Douma down with them if not stopped in their tracks. The imprisoned civilians must be liberated and Douma must be freed from this decaying carcass of violence being kept alive by the Saudi-backed warlords.


READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files




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