On December 30, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a surprise attack against positions of Jaysh al-Islam in the towns of al-Nashabiyah and al-Bilaliyah in the southern part of Eastern Ghouta, according to Syrian pro-government sources. Initially, the SAA captured several positions of Jaysh al-Islam around al-Nashabiyah.
Only few hours later, Jaysh al-Islam announced that its fighters were able to recapture three of the positions they had lost around al-Nashabiya. Seven soldiers of the SAA were killed by Jaysh al-Islam during the clashes in al-Nashabiya, according to the Jaysh al-Islam media wing.
Moreover, Jaysh al-Islam claimed that the SAA used chlorine gas during its attack on the town of al-Bilaliyah. However, as usual the Islamist group didn’t provide any evidence to support its claims.
The SAA attack is likely aimed at punishing Jaysh al-Islam. The Damascus government usually holds Jaysh al-Islam accountable for any attacks against the SAA in Eastern Ghouta. This policy likely includes the attack of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement on the Armored Vehicles base, which was resumed on December 29.
On December 30, Syrian oppositions sources claimed that Ahrar al-Sham Movement went on and captured Ajami neighborhood near the Armored Vehicles base, around Harasta district. However, these claims were not confirmed by Ahrar al-Sham officials.
From its side, the SAA continued repelling the Ahrar al-Sham Movement attack on the Armored Vehicles Base, according to pro-government activists. The SAA also reinforced its positions inside the base with several units of the Qalamun Shield Forces.
Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes bombed several positions of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement around the Armored Vehicles Base, and in Harasta district. The SAA even targeted a headquarter of the movement in Harasta district with a Soviet-made OTR-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile.
The recent development in Eastern Ghouta suggests that the de-escalation agreement there has failed once again, mainly because of the aggressive behavior of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement.