On March 10, Jaysh al-Islam announced that its fighters had managed to cut off the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway. Militants allegedly achieved this thanks to a shelling of a part of the highway near the al-Seen airbase, 70km northwest of the city of Damascus, from their positions in the East Qalamun region.
A source in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) confirmed to SouthFront that the highway had been closed because of Jaysh al-Islam’s shelling and said that many vehicles of the SAA had been targeted. However, the source clarified that the SAA is not using the highway to support its ongoing military operation in the East Ghouta pocket.
Jaysh al-Islam also announced that its fighters in the East Qalamun mountains had shelled the SAA and the Tiger Forces inside the airbases of al-Dumayr and al-Seen. According to Syrian opposition sources, the two airbases host heavy rocket launchers and warplanes, which are taking part in the ongoing advance on the East Ghouta pocket.
These two attacks are clearly a response to the ongoing SAA military operation in the East Ghouta pocket. Jaysh al-Islam in the East Qalamun might even launch larger attacks against the SAA in the upcoming days.
Currently, there are more than 1,000 fighters of Jaysh al-Islam in the besieged East Qalamun region. According to open source information, these fighters are heavily armed because they captured dozens of tanks, armored vehicles, air defense weapons, anti tank weapons and heavy rockets from the SAA in 2012.
According to pro-government activists, the SAA is planning to secure the entire East Qalamun region this year through negotiations or military actions.