Syrian Troops Fight al-Qaeda, Seize Key Area Near Damascus

Rebels blast 'failed' ceasefire

As the Syrian ceasefire continued to hold among the parties involved, the Syrian military pushed an offensive against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is not a party to the ceasefire, seizing territory from them just east of Damascus.

The land is in Eastern Ghouta, and located in an important area between a pair of neighborhoods in the mostly rebel-dominated Damascus suburbs. The rebels, as usual, were none too happy, insisting it amounted to a “nullification” of the ceasefire.

Yet the ceasefire explicitly excluded Nusra Front, as well as ISIS, so the fact that the Syrian military is still fighting those two factions, while galling for the rebels, isn’t a violation of the terms of the ceasefire. Rather, it was exactly what was intended, as the US and Russia hoped the ceasefire would shift everyone’s focus to the Islamist groups.

Many rebels had objected to the terms of the ceasefire in the first place, not liking the exclusion of the Nusra Front, since they depend heavily on the al-Qaeda affiliate in front-line battles, and have Nusra forces embedded with them in many key rebel regions, exposing those regions to attack.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.