East Ghouta inter-rebel conflict (April–May 2016)

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East Ghouta inter-rebel conflict (April–May 2016)
Part of the Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign and the inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
Date18 April – 24 May 2016
(1 month and 6 days)
Location
Result Ceasefire[2]
Belligerents

Al-Rahman Legion[1][2][3]

Jaish al-Fustat[4]

Jaysh al-Islam

  • Air Defense Brigade[4]
Commanders and leaders
Wael Alwan (Al-Rahman Legion spokesman)[5] Qais a-Shami (JaI spokesman)[5]
Casualties and losses
500–700 fighters on both sides and 12 civilians killed[6][7]

The East Ghouta inter-rebel conflict (April–May 2016) was an armed conflict between the rebel coalition of Jaish al-Fustat, consisting of the al-Nusra Front and al-Rahman Legion, and the rebel group Jaysh al-Islam, that occurred in the rebel-held territories east of Damascus. Tensions between the two groups took place since March 2016, when the Rahman Legion expelled Jaysh al-Islam in Zamalka after absorbing the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union in February.[8]

Prelude – Clashes in Jisreen[edit]

On 18 April 2016, the al-Rahman Legion launched an attack on Jaysh al-Islam headquarters in the town of Jisreen, capturing the headquarters.[9]

Open conflict[edit]

Fighting starts[edit]

On 28 April, the Rahman Legion and Jaish al-Fustat attacked Jaysh al-Islam positions in six towns in eastern Ghouta, including Qaboun and Zamalka,[10] resulting in the former's air defence brigade defecting to Jaysh al-Islam. Ahrar ash-Sham denied involvement in the conflict and remained neutral. Due to the fighting, the residents of East Ghouta demonstrated, calling for an end of rebel infighting.[4]

Attack on Misraba and ceasefire[edit]

On 8 May, Jaish al-Fustat, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Rahman Legion attacked the Jaysh al-Islam-held village of Misraba. By this time, Jaysh al-Islam mainly controlled the northern areas of East Ghouta, while Jabhat al-Nusra controlled the south.[11] Jaysh al-Islam also raided several pharmacies, and a doctor was killed by stray bullets. By the next day, a ceasefire agreement was signed which mandated Jaysh al-Islam to withdraw from Misraba, which was then to be controlled by a neutral police force.[5] Still, despite the declared ceasefire, fighting continued and by 17 May, more than 500 fighters on both sides and a dozen civilians had been killed in the fighting in East Ghouta.[6] A new ceasefire agreement was declared on 24 May 2016.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

In mid-June, a new round of fighting left more than 30 fighters dead on both sides.[12]

On 22 July, during a new government offensive in East Ghouta, the Al-Rahman Legion attacked the Jaysh al-Islam-held "Office of Damascus Countryside" in Saqba, resulting in the deaths of nine rebels.[7]

Between 26 April and 1 May 2017, more than 95 rebels were killed during clashes between Jaysh al-Islam, Tahrir al-Sham, and the Rahman Legion. Jaysh al-Islam fighters opened fire on demonstrators who called for an end to the infighting. The clashes led to Syrian Army advances in eastern Damascus.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aron Lund, Showdown in East Ghouta, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, may 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Tomson, Chris (24 May 2016). "Breaking: Rebel factions sign peace deal with each other in East Ghouta, Damascus". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  3. ^ Aron Lund, Syria: East Ghouta Turns on Itself, Again, The Century Foundation, may 1, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "'Shameful' rebel infighting in East Ghouta leaves residents 'in a state of shock'". Syria:direct. 28 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "East Ghouta infighting over, for now: 'People are tired of both sides'". Syria:direct. 10 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Syria rebel clashes 'leave 52 dead' in Eastern Ghouta". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b Charkatli, Izat (22 July 2016). "Rebel infighting returns to eastern Ghouta". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Rebel allies fight each other in east Damascus: monitor". Now News. 1 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Rebel forces fight one another in rural Damascus". Al-Masdar News. 19 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Extremist rebels of Faylaq Al-Rahman captures strategic point from Jaysh Al-Islam in rural Damascus". ABNA. 30 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Rebels storm Misraba village as insurgent infighting engulfs East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News. 8 May 2016.
  12. ^ user3. "أكثر من 30 مقاتلاً قضوا في هجوم لمجموعات من فيلق الرحمن وجبهة النصرة بمنطقة جسرين". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Syrian rebels 'fire on protesters' calling for end to infighting". Middle East Eye. 1 May 2017.


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