FSA Leaders: Southern Syria 'Liberated' by End of Ramadan
By: Tamer al-Samadi Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
Commanders in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) confirmed to Al-Hayat that their forces have rapidly advanced in Syria's south since the beginning of Ramadan due to an increased supply in weapons through Jordan. The commanders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that some of the weapons arriving through the illegal border crossing with Jordan "are provided by two Gulf countries (which they did not specify). Yet others are arriving via Jordanian smugglers who receive exorbitant wages from the FSA for buying and smuggling them."
The military commanders, who spoke to Al-Hayat on Skype, pointed out that the weapons coming through Jordan's villages and towns "do not represent active support, given that the quantity continues to be below the required level." Regarding the US promise to arm the opposition, they said that this commitment has yet to be fulfilled.
The Jordanian government explicitly denies that its border with Syria is open to the flow of weapons, given that admitting this step would put Jordan in an open confrontation with the Syrian regime.
Bashar al-Zoabi, commander of the southern front for the FSA's Yarmouk Brigade, told Al-Hayat in a phone conversation on July 21 that the Syrian opposition forces "are rapidly moving forward into many of Syria's southern cities and towns. They now control nearly 60% of these areas, in which large numbers of forces from the regime army are deployed."
He added, "We are currently advancing in the city of Nawa, where a large number of troops from the regime army are stationed. We disrupted the movement of these troops through our counter-attacks, achieving big wins, and took the lead with the beginning of Ramadan." He continued, "We are currently controlling the cities of Jasim, Inkhil, Nassib, al-Tayba, al-Naemeh and Saheem, as well as al-Karak and Daraa. The day before yesterday [July 20], we successfully blocked the old international road in the city of Daraa once again, where a fierce war is taking place between us and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
Zoabi also said that the town of Bosra al-Sham, which has a concentration of Shiite residents, has witnessed ongoing fighting between the opposition forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia since the beginning of the month.
Zoabi cited "the fighters' high determination in Ramadan, the secret and perfect preparations, which took the regime forces by surprise and paralyzed their movement on the ground, and receiving large quantities of weapons" as reasons for their advances in the south. "We have a decisive battle in the coming days in the areas of al-Sanmin and al-Hara, where the regime troops are stationed. In spite of that, we are seeking to announce that Syria's southern areas have been completely liberated at the end of the holy month of Ramadan."
For his part, Yasser Abboud, commander of FSA field operations in Daraa, told Al-Hayat in a phone conversation that the opposition forces "have made significant gains in the past ten days in southern cities and towns. They liberated many areas, and are currently laying siege to the old customs area in the city of Daraa — neighboring the Jordanian city of Ramtha — which is currently under the rebels' control.
"The regime forces stationed in the south are currently under a tight siege imposed by the FSA battalions, and it's certain that they have not been provided with any supplies for days. Not a day has passed in which the rebels have not made visible progress, despite the significant weapons and ammunition shortages. Yet, the looted goods we get from the regime forces cover part of the shortages, and give us large room to maneuver.
"We are now working on arranging and bringing together the forces and equipment to announce the largest military operation in southern Syria, and we expect that this operation will succeed before the end of Ramadan."
On reports that the FSA will soon control the official border crossings between Syria and Jordan, Abboud said: "We hear these rumors a lot, but they are false. It is out of the question for us to take over the official crossings because they need a qualified staff to manage them, which we do not have now."
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2013/07/syrian-opposition-fsa-south-syria-liberated-ramadan.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7832#ixzz2Zt0rIqKg
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