July 3, 2014
The rebel group Jaish al-Islam captured the strategic village of Medaa in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta from the Islamic State (IS) on Tuesday, reported the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Jaish al-Islam prevailed after an assault lasting three days, part of a larger campaign by the group to push the IS out of East Ghouta. “We will follow them into every neighborhood of East Ghouta,” said Sheikh Abu Abdulrahman Ka’keh, a Jaish al-Islam leader, on Tuesday, as reported by pro-opposition news group All4Syria Wednesday.
“IS fighters weren’t able to withstand heavy fire and the continuous operation against them for three consecutive days,” Abu Subhi, a fighter in the FSA currently located in the city of Douma, tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zeid.
“This forced them to withdraw,” Abu Subhi said, but not before IS “managed to kill dozens of fighters” first.
The capture of Medaa, located in the Marj as-Sultan section of Eastern Ghouta, 15km east of Damascus, could have serious have serious implications on the ground, opening a pathway for Jaish al-Islam and allied FSA rebels to advance west and north towards IS strongholds in Kafar Batna, Hamouriya, and Mesraba.
“Marj as-Sultan sector has considerable strategic value” Abu Subhi notes, “it’s the gate, or the entrance to Eastern Ghouta.”
Q: How was Jaish al-Islam able to gain control of Medaa? Why did you take the town?
Jaish al-Islam took control of Medaa because IS fighters weren’t able to withstand heavy fire and the continuous operation against them for three consecutive days. This forced them to withdraw, but IS managed to kill dozens of fighters from Jaish al-Islam and other factions with the ambushes they laid.
Jaish al-Islam is trying to expel all IS cells from Eastern Ghouta, and establish its full control in the Marj as-Sultan area.
Q: To where did IS withdraw?
The soldiers withdrew in two batches. On the 11th [of June] some fighters left for the a-Damair Front [near the city of al-Damair, roughly 28 miles northeast of Damascus]and stayed there, whereas the second group decided to withdraw to western industrial Adra [a city located 15 miles northeast of Damascus] in preparation for a move towards Douma, in order to join the IS fighters massed in the city there
Q: What’s the importance of the Marj as-Sultan area?
Marj as-Sultan sector has considerable strategic value, from both a military and aid-based point of view, because of its geographic location. It’s the gate, or entrance to Eastern Ghouta, and a reason for the resistance of Ghouta.
Q: Were the remains of IS prisoners found after Medaa was taken?
Yes. Eight bodies were found of fighters who were killed in the field.
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