Damascus offensive (2013)

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Damascus offensive (2013)
Part of the Syrian civil war (Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign)
Damascus offensive (February 2013).svg
Frontlines in Rif Dimashq from February to March 2013
  Syrian government control
  Opposition control
Date6 February – 25 March 2013
(1 month, 2 weeks and 5 days)

Partial rebel victory

  • Rebels capture parts of the ring road on the edge of Damascus and enter the city's Jobar district in early February
  • Rebels advance into the Qaboun and Kafar Souseh districts in late March[5][6]
  • Government forces launch a counter-offensive to the east of Damascus in late March[7][8]

Free Syrian Army
Syrian Islamic Front[1]

Syrian Islamic Liberation Front

Flag of the Al-Nusra Front.svg Al-Nusra Front[2]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

PFLP – GC[3]
Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas[4]
Commanders and leaders
Khaled al-Haboush
(Damascus Military Council commander)
Sheikh Zahran Alloush[citation needed]
(Liwa al-Islam brigade commander)
Abou Al Nour [citation needed]
(Al Hendesah Brigade Leader)
Naim Faysal Fiyad [citation needed]
(Ahfad Omar Brigade Leader)
Bachar Rez Abou Yassine [citation needed]
(Ahfad Omar Brigade Leader)
Mahmoud Al Aqrae [citation needed]
(Farouk Al Sham Brigade leader)
Ali Mahmoud Afouf [citation needed]
(Dera Al Asemah Brigade Leader)
Mohamed Al Haj Sulaymane [citation needed]
(Al Mujahed Brigade Leader)
Syria Bashar Al-Assad
Issam Zahreddine[9]
(Republican Guard Brigade 104 commander)
Ahmed Jibril (PFLP – GC)[10]
Syria Ali Smender (National Defence Front for Syria) [11]
Units involved
Damascus Military Council 1st Armoured Division
3rd Armoured Division
4th Armoured Division
10th Mechanised Division
14th Special Forces Division
Republican Guard

4,500 fighters[12]

  • 750–1,000 al-Nusra fighters[13]
70,000 soldiers,[14] 1000+ tanks
Casualties and losses
735+ fighters killed[15] 440+ soldiers killed[15]

The Damascus offensive (2013) refers to a series of rebel operations[16] that began in early February 2013 in and around the city of Damascus.


Sniper of the rebel al-Siddiq Battalions during the offensive

On 6 February, rebel forces launched an offensive, named "Battle of Armageddon", on the edge of Central Damascus, with rebels entering the Jobar District of Damascus after overrunning a Syrian Army roadblock. Parts of the Damascus ring road which acts as a barrier between Central Damascus and Ghouta were also seized by rebel fighters. Rebels have also launched attacks on Adra, north east of Damascus.[17][18]

On 10 February, a rebel claimed that opposition forces had captured another military checkpoint in the Jobar district. However, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that while fighting for the highway continued, government troops regained control of the area after bombing rebel positions the day before.[19]

On 19 February, rebels began moving truckloads of anti aircraft weapons into Jobar in an effort to consolidate advances made in the Eastern Damascus district.[20]

On 20 February, a SCUD missile, fired by government forces, hit the command center of the Islamist militia Liwa Al-Islam near Douma, which had been spearheading the attack against the roundabout and the Jobar district. Sheikh Zahran Alloush, the commander and founder of the brigade, had been wounded in the strike. The area was devastated and other rebel fighters were also killed or wounded.[21]

On 21 February, rebels launched 3 car bombings on security targets in the Barzeh neighbourhood in Damascus. Also fired several mortar rounds at the Syrian army's general staff headquarters in Umayyad Square, as well as other streets and squares known to house government and security offices, according to residents and activists. SOHR claimed that 22 people, mostly soldiers, were killed in these other attacks.[22]

On 27 February, SOHR claimed that rebels had fired several mortar shells which exploded in the military Judiciary and literature department of the University of Damascus.[23]

On 2 March, heavy fighting was reported in Darayya between rebels and the Syrian Army. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria claimed that rebels targeted a military column attempting to storm Darayya, and also defended several attempts by the government to storm Jobar.[24][25]

On 3 March, rebels reportedly fired several rockets at security forces headquarters in Damascus, though it is unknown if there were any casualties.[26]

On 12 March, 30 military deserters were killed in an Army ambush near Damascus while they were heading towards the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area.[27]

Situation in Damascus, mid-March 2013

On 18 March, rebels operating within Damascus launched mortar bombs at the Damascus Presidential Palace, though its unclear if there were any casualties.[28]

On 21 March, an explosion in the Iman Mosque in Al-Mazraa district killed as much as 41 people, including Sunni cleric, Sheikh Mohammed al-Buti. Al-Buti was one of the most prominent supporters of the Syrian government from the Sunni branch of Islam in Syria. Syrian State TV claimed the explosion was a suicide bombing, though some residents claim it was caused by a mortar bomb that struck a nearby political office.[29][30]

On 25 March, rebels launched one of their heaviest bombardments of Central Damascus since the revolt began, with mortars reportedly hitting Umayyad Square, where Baath Party headquarters, Air Force Intelligence and state television are also located. The attack was launched when rebel forces advanced into the Kafr Souseh district of Damascus, and the Syrian Army retaliated with artillery launched from Mount Qasioun.[5]


  1. ^ "BBC Arabic: Groups affiliated to al-Qaeda carry out acts of terror". Champress. 18 September 2012. Archived from the original on 24 July 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  2. ^ Yezdani, İpek (2 September 2012). "Rebels fighting against al-Assad rule fragmented, disorganized in Syria" (PDF). Hürriyet Daily News. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  3. ^ AFP (17 December 2012). "Syria hits back at UN over Palestinian refugees". Syria. NOW. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  4. ^ Blanford, Nicholas (18 January 2013). "Video appears to show Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiites fighting in Syria". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Syrian rebels bombard central Damascus, army artillery hits back". Reuters. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Assad appeals to BRICS countries to help end war | News, Middle East". The Daily Star. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  7. ^ "At least 15 civilians, including a child, have died in shelling of towns east of Damascus, a monitoring group has said. - Al Jazeera Blogs". Blogs.aljazeera.com. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ Holmes, Oliver (8 April 2013). "Suicide car bomber kills 15 in central Damascus". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Civilian Brigades Are Helping Syrian Army Control Territory - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. 15 October 2012. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Corrections and clarifications". The Guardian. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Preliminary death toll for 13/2/2013:... - Syrian Observatory for Human Rights". Facebook. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Heavy fighting continues in Mliha near Damascus - News - Society - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video". Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. ^ Ignatius, David (30 November 2012). "Al-Qaeda affiliate playing larger role in Syria rebellion". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  14. ^ Yacoub, Khaled (13 January 2013). "Syrian forces kill dozens in bombardments - opposition | Reuters". Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  15. ^ a b "المرصد السورى لحقوق الانسان". Syriahr.com. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  16. ^ "SYRIA UPDATE: THE SOUTHERN BATTLEFRONTS". ISW. 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013.
  17. ^ Yacoub, Khaled (6 February 2013). "Syrian rebels fight close to heart of Damascus". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Damascus on Edge as War Seeps into Syrian Capital". The New York Times. 10 February 2013.
  19. ^ Ginsburg, Mitch (10 February 2013). "Syrian army, rebels battle for key Damascus highway". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  20. ^ Yacoub, Khaled (19 February 2013). "Syria Scud-type missile said to kill 20 in Aleppo". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  21. ^ "Missile blast wounds Syrian rebel commander: activists". Reuters. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  22. ^ Dagher, Sam (21 February 2013). "Attacks in Damascus Target Symbols of Assad Regime - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Syrian Forces Clash with Rebels". Archived from the original on 27 February 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  24. ^ "BBC News - Syria: Fierce clashes in provincial capital Raqqa". bbc.co.uk. 2 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  25. ^ "Syria Today 2-3-2013 | Local coordination committees of Syria". Lccsyria.org. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  26. ^ "BBC News - Rebels 'seize most of Syria police academy'". bbc.co.uk. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  27. ^ "Syrian forces kill 30 deserters in ambush: opposition". Reuters. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Syria rebels say fire mortars at president's palace". Reuters. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  29. ^ Jim Muir (21 March 2013). "BBC News - Syria mosque blast: Pro-Assad cleric among dozens dead". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  30. ^ "Syria Live Blog - Al Jazeera Blogs". Blogs.aljazeera.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2013.