ISIS reports gains near key airbase in Syria’s Damascus

Militant fighters of the Islamic State in Damascus countryside. File photo: Amaq

ARA News

DAMASCUS – Subsequent to clashes with the Syrian regime army forces, militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) have reportedly seized control of several key positions in the eastern and northeastern suburbs of Syria’s capital Damascus, local media sources reported on Tuesday.

The ISIS militant fighters launched Tuesday a fierce offensive on positions for the Syrian army in the Qalmoun region, east and northeast of the capital Damascus. 

“Islamic State fighters seized control the ‘559 battalion’, an army base and a nearby strategic checkpoint, in addition to the cement plant in eastern Qalamoun,” ISIS-linked Amaq agency reported.

The source stressed that the militant group caused the regime’s forces heavy losses in manpower and equipment. 

“The [ISIS] fighters also seized a number of weapons and a large deal of ammunition subsequent to the operation, including a cannon [caliber 57], a machine gun [caliber 12.5], a machine gun 23 and the base of thermal rockets as well as a T-62 tank,” it added. 

Speaking to ARA News in Damascus, local media activist Waseem al-Abdo confirmed that with their control over those strategic areas, the jihadi group has been so close to the regime-held Seen and Dumair airbases in eastern Qalamoun near the Syrian capital Damascus. 

“Fierce clashes are ongoing between ISIS and pro-Assad forces on the outskirts of the key regiment 16,” al-Abdo reported. 

“ISIS tried to storm the regiment south of the Dumair city​, but it was forced to retreat after receiving painful blows by the pro-regime,” al-Abdo told ARA News, citing sources close to the regime’s army.

Also Tuesday, Russian warplanes conducted several raids on the ISIS’s tactical units in the vicinity of the Seen airbase and the industrial zone (Hisia). ISIS seeks to impose a blockade on the regime’s military locations near Damascus, according to local sources. 

ARA News could not verify the death toll among ISIS jihadis in Tuesday’s airstrikes.

In a related development, the leadership of the Syrian army has sent additional reinforcements to the eastern Qalamoun area for fear of a possible expansion by ISIS in the region, sources close to the Syrian army told ARA News, preferring anonymity. 

The ISIS hardline group has been waging a military campaign targeting the Syrian regime-held airbases, including the Seen and Dumair military airports in eastern Qalamoun in addition to the Deir ez-Zor military airbaseــwhich has been under blockade for several months by the group. 

Reporting by Haytham Mustafa

Source: ARA News

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