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International Military Review – Syria, Sep. 10, 2015

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The intense firefights at the Abu Al-Dhuhour Military Airport have not dissipated in the last 48 hours, as the Syrian Al-Qaeda faction “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and their affiliate group “Jund Al-Aqsa” have taken control of the base. It was captured in the morning on September 9 after the Syrian Armed Forces withdrew to the outskirts.

The recent sandstorm that is engulfing the entire Syrian-Lebanese border has grounded the Syrian Arab Air Force due to poor visibility; and while this may seem like a reprieve for the Islamist rebel forces of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah had no plans to halt their advance inside Al-Zabadani.

Under the cover of red clouds formed from the sand debris, the SAA in coordination with Hezbollah, National Defense Forces (NDF), and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) – continued their advance inside the Al-Ghabiyah District, capturing the Al-Maas Neighborhood after intense clashes with the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Jabhat Al-Nusra.

According to reports, the death toll in Al-Zabadani is as followed: over 400 Islamist rebels were killed; 189 of them surrendered to the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah. 60 Hezbollah soldiers were killed-in-action. The firefights are likely to intensify in the coming hours, as the Syrian Armed Forces and Lebanese Resistance seek retribution for the Islamist assault on the Abu Al-Dhuhour Military Aiport in the Idlib Governorate.

On Tuesday morning, FSA militnts launched a fresh offensive in northwest Dara’a to recapture the territory they lost to the Syrian Arab Army in the Fall of 2014 after they had already taken control of this area during their summer offensive at the strategic town of Tal Al-Harrah.

The FSA offensive is aimed on the hilltops at Tal Qareen and Tal Al-Alaqiyah and the SAA positions at the town of Kafr Nissaj.

Renewed fighting between the Islamic State and Shamiya Front militants has left at least 47 people dead around the rebel-held town of Marea in the northern countryside of Aleppo, around 20km from the Turkish border. The area falls within the so-called “safe zone” that Turkey said it would set up in northern Syria last month.

On September 9, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Russian military experts were present in Syria, the first official confirmation that the Russian military is on the ground in Syria. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, stated the experts were assisting with Russian arms deliveries which aimed at combating terrorism.

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