Southern Damascus offensive (March 2018)

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Southern Damascus offensive (March 2018)
Part of the Syrian Civil War and the inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
2018 Qadam Offensive.svg
Map of the battle
Date12–20 March 2018
(1 week and 1 day)
al-Qadam, Syria

ISIL victory

  • ISIL takes control of 90% of al-Qadam, SAA controls one neighborhood[3]
  • Rebels abandon al-Qadam
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Syria Syria

Palestinian People's Party[1]
Free Palestine Movement[2]

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army (12 March only)

Tahrir al-Sham (12 March only)
Commanders and leaders

Syria Unknown

Nidal Darwish Executed[1]
Units involved
Dimashq Wilayah[4]

Syrian Army

  • 141st Regiment[5]

National Defence Forces[citation needed]

Syrian Air Force
1,500–2,500[6] Unknown
Casualties and losses
17 killed[7] Syria 116 killed (per SOHR)[8]
Syria 175 killed (per ISIL)[9]
1 civilian killed[10]

The Southern Damascus offensive (March 2018) started on 12 March 2018, when ISIL began attacking rebel positions in the al-Qadam neighborhood of southern Damascus as they were evacuating.[11] The rebel pocket in al-Qadam had been surrounded on one side by government forces and on the other by ISIL.[12] On 10 March, ISIL threatened to kill any rebels that evacuate from the area after the Syrian government gave the rebels 48 hours to surrender the district and evacuate.[13] Following news of the upcoming rebel evacuation from al-Qadam, ISIL forces attacked the rebels on 12 March and captured 25 percent of the neighborhood.[11] The next day, around 300 rebel fighters and their family members were evacuated from al-Qadam to rebel territory in Idlib province.[12] After the evacuation, government troops took control of 70 percent of the neighborhood, while the remaining 30 was under IS control.[14] During the fighting, government air-strikes were conducted against ISIL in Al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam.[15] While the clashes were taking place in Qadam, rebel groups attempted to break through ISIL lines in Yarmouk but were repelled.[16]

On 14 March, ISIL launched an assault against Syrian Army positions in al-Qadam, managing to advance slightly. The attack was renewed the following day but without any advances[17] and by 16 March, the ISIL offensive had stalled.[18] During the fighting in al-Qadam, government forces suffered heavy losses with 40 soldiers being killed and at least one tank knocked out.[19]

Overnight on 19 March, ISIL forces launched a surprise attack on government positions in al-Qadam[20] and by the following day ISIL gained ground, pushing back the military.[21] According to the pro-opposition activist group the SOHR, ISIL took full control of al-Qadam, with 36 soldiers being killed and dozens of others wounded, captured or missing.[20] In contrast, military sources initially reported control of al-Qadam was divided[22] and that ISIL failed to capture the central and western neighborhoods of the district.[23] However, later they confirmed ISIL had taken control of 90 percent of the district following a chaotic Army withdrawal due to poor coordination between different military branches and that the Army was in control of one western neighborhood.[3] Five of the missing soldiers were eventually rescued after becoming trapped behind ISIL lines, while others were reported to be isolated in ISIL territory.[22] Still, later, it was stated no more living soldiers remained behind ISIL lines.[24] At this time, veteran units of the 4th Armoured Division were sent as reinforcements to al-Qadam[25] to try to retake the lost areas.[20] Later that day, following heavy artillery strikes against ISIL positions, a two-day ceasefire was announced.[26]

On 21 March, it was reported that the military's death toll from ISIL's attack had risen to 62, after 26 bodies of the previously missing were retrieved.[27] On the same day, ISIL executed a captured commander from the Palestinian People’s Party, Nidal Darwish, in the al-Qadam neighborhood.[1]


On 19 April, the SAA and allied Palestinian militias launched an offensive to dislodge ISIL from the pocket.

During the night of 19 May, an agreement was put in place in southern Damascus between the Syrian Army and ISIL after the militants agreed to surrender their last positions in the Yarmouk Camp and Hajar Al-Aswad.[28] The next day, buses started entering the ISIL pocket to transport their fighters to the desert region in eastern Syria.[29] Later on 21 May, the military officially announced that they had completely regained control of the area,[30] ending the existence of anti-government forces around the capital Damascus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Syrian War Daily – 21st of March 2018". 21 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Bombardment hits a vehicle transporting members of ISIS in Yarmouk camp". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "ISIS seizes 90 percent of southern Damascus district after Syrian Army's chaotic withdrawal". 21 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  4. ^[bare URL image file]
  5. ^ Sidorenko, Ivan. "#Syria #Damascus #SouthDamascus #SouthernDamascus #South_Damascus #Southern_Damascus R.I.P. - Martyrdom of Major Issam Barakat, leader of the fire company of the 141th regiment of the syrian army in al qadam district south of damascus. #Qadam #SAA #SyrianArmy". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  6. ^ Strength of ISIS forces in south Damascus – estimates
  7. ^ After its revival and re-activity… ISIS manages in 2 weeks to kill 173 members at least of the regime forces and their allies in Damascus and the east of the Euphrates
  8. ^ IS kills 19 regime fighters in east Syria: monitor
  9. ^ "Syrian War Daily – 23rd of March 2018". 23 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Syrian War Daily – 13th of March 2018". 13 March 2018. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Breaking: ISIS captures several areas in southern Damascus after launching new offensive". 13 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Syrian army evacuates militants from small rebel pocket near capital". Reuters. 13 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Syrian Army gives rebels 48 hours to surrender southern Damascus district". 10 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army takes control of 70 percent of southern Damascus district despite ISIS attack". 13 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  15. ^ Syria, Action Group for Palestinians of. "ISIS launches an attack on the Qadam neighborhood in south Damascus, amid clashes with the regime's forces". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  16. ^ "ISIS drives back threatening rebel offensive in south Damascus". 14 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  17. ^ "ISIS launches big assault against Syrian Army troops in southern Damascus". 15 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  18. ^ "ISIS offensive in southern Damascus forestalled after several days of fighting". 16 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Syrian Army takes on heavy losses amid relentless ISIS onslaught in south Damascus". 18 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  20. ^ a b c "ISIL takes control of Damascus area after rebels pull out". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  21. ^ Editorial, Reuters (20 March 2018). "Islamic State takes Damascus area after rebels pull out - monitor". Reuters. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Developing: Syrian Army troops reportedly trapped behind ISIS lines in south Damascus, some saved". 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Syrian Army suffers high casualties in latest battle against ISIS in southern Damascus". 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Confirmed: Syrian Army troops got trapped behind ISIS lines in south Damascus, key district has not fallen to terrorist group". 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: Veteran Syrian Army armored division sends big reinforcements to battle ISIS in south Damascus". 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Two day long ceasefire announced in southern Damascus district". 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  27. ^ "62 regime fighters dead in ISIS attack on Syria capital". 21 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Breaking: ISIS terrorists to begin leaving southern Damascus". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2018-05-20. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  29. ^ "VIDEO: Buses enter ISIS-held districts in southern Damascus to start evacuation deal". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 2018-05-20. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  30. ^ syria alikhbaria (2018-05-21), بيان القيادة العامة للجيش والقوات المسلحة حول تطهير منطقة الحجر الأسود, retrieved 2018-05-23