Syrian rebels plan a spring offensive

2014-02-18 17:01
Rebel fighters sit on top of a tank as they head to the front line of battles against Syrian pro-government forces, near the city of Hama. (Abu Hadi Al-Hamwi, AFP)

Rebel fighters sit on top of a tank as they head to the front line of battles against Syrian pro-government forces, near the city of Hama. (Abu Hadi Al-Hamwi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Beirut - Rebels in southern Syria say they are planning a spring offensive against Damascus, which regime and opposition sources say will include fighters trained by Western forces in neighbouring Jordan.

The Syrian army, meanwhile, is redeploying troops in Quneitra province located on the ceasefire line with Israel, and stepping up shelling on rebel positions in Daraa on the Jordan border to stop any advance, opposition fighters say.

The looming showdowns come after regime and opposition representatives failed last week to reach consensus at talks in Geneva, and amid reports that some Gulf Arab states have pledged to arm the rebels.

Both regime and opposition sources say the offensive on Damascus will involve thousands of rebels who have been receiving combat training for the past year from the United States and other Western countries in Jordan.

'Redeploying troops'

"Daraa [province] is the gateway to Damascus. The battle for Damascus starts from here", said rebel commander Abdullah al-Qarazi, an ex-officer in the Syrian army.

"For now, we only have guarantees [for weapons] from the countries that support" the revolt against President Bashar Assad, he said.

"If the promises are honoured, God willing we will reach the heart of the capital", in a bid to break army sieges on the Western and Eastern Ghouta districts outside the capital, Qarazi told AFP.

Qarazi, a brigadier general in the Syrian army before defecting, said rebels in Daraa have "made steady progress in recent months" despite intensifying army bombardment of the province.

Since last summer, rebels have seized parts of Daraa city and several positions close to the border with Jordan, which could be used as a conduit for arms.

Rebels also set up a coalition of 47 factions and opened communications channels with fighters in Damascus province and in Quneitra, the main town in the Syrian Golan Heights parts of which have been annexed by Israel.

But the army is preparing to fight back, "redeploying troops" to the Quneitra front from areas of Damascus, said Ali al-Jolani of Quneitra's rebel military council.

And a Syrian politician told AFP that a major battle is planned in Daraa ahead of a possible fresh round of peace talks between the regime and the opposition.

The second round broke down on the weekend with no progress achieved and no date was announced by the UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

A source close to the regime has said the talks could resume next month but this could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile the Syrian army has in recent days stepped up air raids on the southern province and pounded rebel areas and villages with explosive-packed barrels, a monitoring group said.

On Tuesday, the air force launched three barrel bomb attacks, one of which killed 13 people including three children, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Gulf backers of the anti-Assad revolt were preparing to deliver weapons to the rebels, including "both shoulder-fired missiles capable of taking down military aircraft and anti-tank missiles".

Read more on:    un  |  bashar assad  |  us  |  jordan  |  syria  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 17:56 PM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Riebeeck Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.