Syrian Ground Troops, Air Force Strike Terrorist Positions in Southwestern Damascus
Syrian Army troops and Air Force started striking terrorist groups' positions in Western Ghouta after militants continued to attack government positions irrespective of the peace talks in the town of Khan al-Sheih.
Syrian fighter jets launched combat sorties over terrorists' positions in Khan al-Sheih, while the army soldiers, backed up by the artillery fire and military helicopters, engaged in fierce clashes with militants in Khan al-Sheih farms and advanced against them.
The artillery units of the army also opened fire at the terrorists' centers, including a command base, in the farms East of Khan al-Sheih.
Army soldiers also fended off terrorists' attack on their positions along a road connecting the town of Deir al-Khabiyeh to the village of Albuyizeh, killing or wounding ten of militants and capturing five.
Heisam Hasoun, a retired officer of the Syrian army, said that Syrian soldiers' operation in Khan al-Sheih was aimed at separating Quneitra from Southwestern Damascus. Separation of Damascus form Dara'a is also another objective of the operation against al-Nusra Front in Khan al-Sheikh.
He further added that terrorists only have the two options of "either facing a massive attack of the army or join the reconciliation talks as the army is resolved to continue the battle in Khan al-Sheih to the end".
Peace talks between the government and militants under siege in the town of Khan al-Sheih in Southwestern Damascus are ending up in failure after continued attacks by the terrorists on army positions, sources privy to the talks said on Sunday.
The terrorist groups' heavy attacks to lift the army siege in Khan al-Shieh are pushing the peace negotiations into failure while talks for relocation or surrundering of the militants in return for amnesty were in a last stage, according to the source.
The government offered the entrapped Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) terrorists a deal to relocate to Idlib or surrender to the army in return for amnesty after laying siege on the suburban Damascus town nearly two weeks ago. Talks have been underway between the two sides all throughout the last 12.
"While a number of militants sought to escape the region, the Nusra command center in expectation of reinforcements from comrades in other parts of Western Ghoutain Khan al-Sheih ordered intensifying attack on goverment troops to close escape paths and meantime win the upper hand in the talks," according to the source.
The terrorists initially requested relocation to Dara'a, but were forced to voice consent to a transition plan to Idlib in later stages of the talks.
The source said the militants sustained "a heavy death toll in their failed attacks as the town is still under the siege of the government forces".
"Following intensified attacks by the terrorists, the Syrian air force and artillery units pounded their positions in Khan al-Sheih in retaliation," he went on to say.
"Damascus is still insisting on ending clashes in Khan al-Sheih just like similar peace agreements in other towns of Western Ghouta, while the Nusra command center in Northern Syria that rejected hosting its units from Khan al-Sheih has ordered its units in the town to continue the fight as Khan al-Sheih is their last major stronghold in Western Ghouta," they added.
Khan al-Sheih is one of the most important bases of the terrorists that connects Damascus, Quneitra and Dara'a provinces to each other.
Reports from Western Damascus said on Thursday that tens of militants are fleeing the battlefield after facing the Syrian army's tightened noose on Khan al-Sheih in Western Ghouta of Damascus and the failure of peace talks in the region.
A number of terrorists could pass through the Syrian army's advanced traps in Khan al-Sheih farms but others didn't accept to fill their place for the fear of the army's attacks.
After the liberation of Albuyizeh village and its surrounding farms in recent days, the army seized control of al-Darousheh road to Deir al-Khabiyeh, air-defense housing complex, Ale Taqi Mosque, and Khirbet al-Abbasiyeh region and tightened siege on the militants in the region.
After several days of pause in operations to liberate Khan al-Sheih town to hold negotiations with the terrorists to leave the region, the army restarted its attacks and advanced in the area.
Meantime, the Syrian troops, supported by the missile and artillery units as well as helicopters, could advance in al-Abbasiyeh farms.
Sources affiliated to the terrorists also reported that after the failure of the first round of peace talks in Khan al-Sheih and the Syrian air force's resumed airstrikes which killed and wounded several terrorists, including their high-ranking commanders, a new round of talks has kicked off between the Syrian government and militants' representatives in Khan al-Sheih to transfer the terrorists to Idlib.
According to the sources, the two sides are at odds over certain paragraphs of a peace agreement, including delivering the militants' heavy and semi-heavy weapons to the Syrian army.
Reports said on Sunday that top commanders of Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly al-Nusra Front) as well as a number of their counterparts in other terrorist groups that are deployed in Idlib voiced opposition to the transfer of the militants, who agreed on Saturday to leave their positions in Southwestern Damascus to relocate to Idlib.
"While the representatives of Damascus and militant groups are working jointly on relocating those militants, who have agreed to leave their positions in the regions of Khan al-Sheih, al-Zakiyeh, Moqilibiyeh, al-Tibeh, al-Hosseiniyeh and al-Keswat al-Sharghiyeh farms, the leaders of Fatah al-Sham have rejected militants' request to be transferred to Idlib," media sources said.
"In the meantime, the Syrian government has voiced opposition to the relocation of militants of Khan al-Sheih and its surroundings in the provinces of Dara'a or Quneitra," the sources added.
"The terrorists in Western Ghouta have been in close contact with al-Mouk Operation Room in Jordan," the sources said.
"The Fatah al-Sham central command has accused militants in Khan al-Sheih of betrayal in their battle against the government forces in Darayya, saying negligence of these militants gave the upper hand to the Syrian army in the region," the sources added.
Based on the peace agreement with government, militants in Khan al-Sheih were to hand over their heavy weapons, equipment and the map of landmine-planted areas to the Syrian army and in return the army would allow them to leave the region for Idlib carrying only their light firearms; FNA reported.
Source: Al Alam