Eastern Qalamoun offensive (September–October 2016)

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Eastern Qalamoun offensive (September–October 2016)
Part of the Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign of the Syrian Civil War
Date3 September – 15 October 2016
(1 month, 1 week and 5 days)

Limited ISIL gains

  • ISIL captures four hills
  • Rebels recapture several positions[2]

Jaysh al-Islam
Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army
Ahrar al-Sham
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham
Syrian opposition Authenticity and Development Front

Syria Syrian Arab Republic[1]

 Islamic State
Commanders and leaders
Harith Siwar (WIA)[3]
(Eastern Qalamoun Jaysh al-Islam commander)
Salih Nouman  [4]
(Eastern Qalamoun Jaysh al-Islam commander)
Syrian opposition Abdul Rahman Abu Mansour[5]
(Al-Rahman Legion deputy commander)
Syrian opposition Abu Barzan[6]
(Lions of the East Army deputy commander)
Units involved

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Military of ISIL

600–1,500 fighters[5][7] Unknown
Casualties and losses

24 rebels killed (ISIL claim)[8]

Syria 1 MiG-23 crashed[1]
23–62 killed (rebel claim)[7][9]

The Eastern Qalamoun offensive was a large-scale military offensive against Syrian rebel positions in the eastern Qalamoun Mountains of the Rif Dimashq Governorate launched by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant along a frontline of more than 15 kilometers in the region.[5]

The offensive[edit]

On 3 September 2016, ISIL sent two car bombs towards rebel positions in the mountains, but both were destroyed before they could reach their targets. Following this, ISIL forces stormed the rebel-held territory from three different axes, overrunning several positions and reportedly killing more than 20 rebels.[8]

Three days later, an ISIL convoy was deployed as they launched a second assault in the area. During the clashes, the rebels destroyed an ISIL T-72, a bulldozer, and a ZU-23-2, the latter with a BGM-71 TOW missile.[10] The next day, Jaysh al-Islam recaptured a hill near Dumayr from ISIL.[11]

On 9 September, ISIL launched a third attack against rebel forces in the mountains. Rebels led by Jaysh al-Islam and various Free Syrian Army factions repelled the assault and dozens of ISIL fighters were killed.[9] Hundreds of rebel reinforcements reportedly arrived in the region the next day.[7] On 13 September, ISIL recaptured the three hilltops of Jabal Zubaydi, Tall Daba'a and Jabal al-Afa'i.[2] On 14–15 September, rebels launched a counter-attack to regain Jabal al-Afa'i.[12] On 17–18 September, ISIL forces launched a successful assault against rebel positions at Badiya, killing four and capturing forty defenders,[13] while losing two vehicles in return.[14] Heavy fighting between rebels and ISIL in the area was reported on 19 September, as the ISIL offensive entered its 3rd week.[15]

On 21 September, Ahrar al-Sham and the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo recaptured the Rajem al-A'ali area, giving them the control of 40% of the al-Afa'i Mountains, while a Syrian Air Force MiG-23 targeting ISIL crashed in the region.[16][17] Rebel forces made further progress later that day, retaking several positions at Jebal Batra.[18] The pilot of the crashed government jet landed in rebel territory in the mountains and as a result of a truce in the area, the rebels handed him over to the Syrian Armed Forces and reportedly received small arms and ammunition from government forces in return.[1] By 23 September, the rebels were in control of 70% of Jabal al-Afa'i.[19]

On 26 September, unknown gunmen attempted to assassinate Harith Siwar, commander of Jaysh al-Islam in the Eastern Qalamoun Mountains.[3] On 29 September, ISIL forces launched a new attack in the eastern Qalamoun Mountains, leading to heavy clashes with the rebel defenders.[20] In the night of 1–2 October, ISIL fighters stormed eastern Jabal al-Afa'i amid heavy fighting with FSA forces.[21] Two days later, Jaysh al-Islam repelled another major ISIL attack on Jabal al-Afa'i and al-Naqab.[22] On 9 October, 12 ISIL fighters and an unknown number of rebels were killed in clashes after an attack by ISIL on al-Khandaq and al-Naqab mountain.[23] Five rebels were killed in clashes on the following day.[24] On 15 October, rebels launched an assault on Kahil Tes and Mahol areas.[25]


On 26 October, Syrian military bombarded areas under ISIL control in the region.[26] On 2 November, clashes renewed between ISIL and rebels, concentrated in the area of Jabal al-Afa'i.[27]

On 6 November, the rebels launched their own offensive,[28][29] attacking ISIL positions. The rebels stated they had captured three checkpoints, with 7 ISIL fighters and 4 rebels being killed in the clashes.[29] With the recent advances, rebels broke the siege imposed by ISIL on them in the region and had started advancing northwards to retake territory previously captured by the group.[28]

On 29 December, FSA forces launched an offensive toward ISIL lines in the eastern Qalamoun and captured five villages.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Opposition recognizes the pilot who dropped the Syrian regime to organize "State" his plane yesterday at Qalamoun". Al-Quds al-Arabi. 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b "ISIS snatches swaths of rebel territory northeast of Damascus – Map update". Al-Masdar News. 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Shelling target al-Ghouta and the outskirts of the capital and an assassination attempt of an Islamic faction commander". SOHR. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Ceyş'ül İslam'ın #DoğuKalamun sorumlusu Salih Numan, IŞİD ile aralarında yaşanan çatışmalarda şehit oldu". 5 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Daesh opens a loophole in eastern Qalamoun". Aawsat. 7 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Syrian opposition repel "Daesh" attacks in eastern Qalamoun". The New Arab. 22 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "For these reasons, Daesh attacks the free army in Qalamoun". Egypt and the Arab. 11 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b "ISIS launches huge offensive in the eastern Qalamoun". Al-Masdar News. 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Dozens of dead of wounded in eastern Qalamoun". All4Syria. 10 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Daesh bid to take eastern Qalamoun". ARA News. 7 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Jaysh Al-Islam recaptures mountaintop in eastern Qalamoun". Al-Masdar News. 7 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Rebels clash with IS and regime forces in Reef Dimashq". SOHR. 15 September 2016.
  13. ^ "E. Qalamoun : ISIS attacked JFS positions in the Badiya where four were killed and another forty were taken prisoner". 18 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Clashes in the Eastern Qalamoun and raids in the west of Rif Dimashq". SOHR. 17 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Eastern Qalamoun: heavy clashes continue with Rebels as ISIS offensive enters its 3rd week". 19 September 2016.
  16. ^ Chris Tomson (21 September 2016). "ISIS downs new Syrian jet while rebels advance in Eastern Qalamoun". Al-Masdar News.
  17. ^ "Opposition Progressing In Qalamon Against ISIS … The Latter Drop A Regime Warplane In The Area". Qasioun News. 21 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Eastern Qalamoun: Rebels expelled ISIS from several positions in Jebal Batra". 21 September 2016.
  19. ^ Chris Tomson (23 September 2016). "VIDEO: Al-Qaeda linked group pushes through ISIS-held Syrian territory". Al-Masdar News.
  20. ^ "Clashes between ISIS and opposition forces in Qalamoun". Qasioun News. 29 September 2016.
  21. ^ Leith Fadel (2 October 2016). "ISIS launches new offensive in eastern Qalamoun". Al-Masdar News.
  22. ^ Leith Fadel (4 October 2016). "Jaysh al-Islam repels the #ISIS Group' attack in Qalamoun and kills many militants". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Continued clashes between rebels and IS in Qalamoun". 9 October 2016.
  24. ^ "5 casualties in clashes against the 'Islamic state' in the eastern Qalamoun and exchange of targeting in Homs".
  25. ^ "Clashes breakout between rebels and IS in Qalamon". 15 October 2016.
  26. ^ "Continued clashes in al-Rayhan area in Reef Dimashq". 26 October 2016.
  27. ^ "Clashes continue in the Western Ghouta and renewed in the eastern Qalamoun". SOHR. 2 November 2016.
  28. ^ a b "With all eyes on Raqqa, US-backed rebels take on the Islamic State in Syria's mountains". Syria Direct. 10 November 2016.
  29. ^ a b "Islamic State loses ground to Syrian rebels in Damascus suburb". ARA News. 6 November 2016.
  30. ^ "Free Syrian Army launches large-scale offensive in east Qalamoun". Al-Masdar News. 29 December 2016.