Gregory Waters Profile picture
Jan 11, 2018 48 tweets 22 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread] Timeline of events in #Harasta #Damascus. 188 reported govt deaths since 11/14. 49 officers KIA. Total deaths likely reach 300.
Phase 1: 75 reported KIA
Phase 2: 113 reported KIA
Many high ranking officers died in both offensives including 10 Generals & Colonels (more than on any other front in November & December).
Rebels claimed to have destroyed or damaged 7 tanks, 2 BMPs & 5 pieces of artillery after Phase 1.
In the week leading up to Phase 2, rebels began increasing clashes with govt using snipers, ATGMs & shelling govt positions along the vehicle base.
On 12/29 Ahrar al-Sham & HTS launch Phase 2 of their operation in #Harasta. Ahrar detonates a regime offensive tunnel & HTS uses an SVBIED to destroy a HQ (killing Gen. Mohammad Junad). On 12/31 the rebels besiege the vehicle base.
On 1/2 a Hezbollah-linked page announced Hezbollah’s “official” participation in Harasta. One Lebanese had already been reported KIA on 11/24. A Palestinian Arab National Guard fighter died on 12/22.
By 1/3 three Generals & 2 Colonels had been killed in Phase 2. A 4th General wounded on 1/1 would die of his wounds by 1/10.
On 1/7 the siege was declared lifted. However, on 1/10 pro-govt reporters claimed the base was still partially besieged. Heavy death tolls after 1/7 support this claim.
On 1/7 a list of 19 1st Lieutenants KIA in Harasta was published. All were members of the 71st session officer class. On 1/10 a new list titled “Some of the martyrs of Harasta” with 83 names was published.
Origins of reported pro-govt deaths in Harasta since 11/14/17. 38% are coastal fighters (representing 50% of all reported Republican Guard deaths). Huge Homs presence not normally seen in Damascus (65% of Homsi deaths occured in Phase 2).
Continuing w/ this thread: Clashes in Harasta continue at a medium intensity, reported deaths since 11/14 now stand at 265. 59 officers KIA, total deaths likely around 400.
Phase 1 (11/14): 75 reported KIA
Phase 2 (12/29): 155 reported KIA
Phase 3 (1/28): 35 reported KIA
The past month has seen a sharp decrease in number of officers killed. However, a special forces Lt Colonel and Brigadier General were both killed during the govt’s failed assault on the town of Harasta between 1/11 and 1/15.
Nearly 40% of reported KIA have been coastal fighters while the proportion of Hamawi and Damascene fighters has increased marginally from a month ago (% of unknown fighters has decreased as well). Again, ½ of RG deaths come from the coast.
Leading the fight in Harasta:
556th Special Forces Regiment of the 14th Division (lost 3 officers)
4th Division (25 reported KIA incl 5 officers)
The 104th, 105th & 138th Tank brigades, 398th Regiment & 83rd Battalion of the Republican Guard (40 reported KIA incl 18 officers)
These are experienced, well equipped & loyal units. 104th RG famously withstood ISIS in Deir Ez Zor for 3 years under the command of Issam Zahredinne. The 556th SF Regiment played a large role in recapturing Homs & has been deployed across the country since.
On 1/11 the govt attempted to widen its salient by pushing towards the National Hospital. After 4 days of fighting rebels claimed to have stopped the advance w/ 16 reported govt KIA including a Captain, Lt Colonel, Brig General, and 3 Lieutenants.…
Following this attack, fighting eased on the front as the govt resorted to daily bombing runs.…
On 1/26 Russia proposed a ceasefire along the Irbeen-Harasta front. The Rebels rejected this. Two days later they announced “Phase 3” of their offensive.
As both sides fail to make any significant advances, the Syrian government has resorted to an immense, seemingly random bombing campaign of Eastern Ghouta.
A Hama page just posted about Tiger Forces arriving in East Ghouta:

"First: open the M5 highway
Second: stop missiles hitting Damascus
Third: liberate the towns of Ghouta
Fourth: secure the capital in a definitive manner"

In other words, continue with the current strategy.
14 pro-government fighters reported killed since the bombing of #EasternGhouta began on 2/18.

2 NDF killed in mortar fire on 2/21
Shia militiaman KIA in #Harasta on 2/22
4th Division Captain and 4 others KIA in Harasta on 2/23
First 24 hours of #EastGhouta ground offensive:

17 reported KIA incl a Tiger Forces commander, 2 captains, & 2 Lts
Total number KIA likely more than 40 (video from Hawsh al-Dawahara front shows at least 22 govt dead)
Pro-govt FB post claims 15 KIA or captured on Zariqiyah front.
Same post claims govt attempted to encircle Nashabiyah but the Zariqiyah axis failed after "a number" of fighters were trapped by rebels, leaving 15 killed or captured. The post confirms govt advances in al-'Ajami neighborhood in Harasta.
49 reported pro-govt deaths in the first 3 days of ground offensive in #EastGhouta.
9 officers KIA, incl 4 Captains & a Tiger Forces commander.
Est total deaths at least in the 60s.

30% of KIA since 2/25 are from the coast, Hamawi deaths here nearly doubled from Januuary (21%)
Another post on the 2/25 ambush near Zariqiyah:

Lt. Col Mustafa Suleiman of the 1421 Battalion Republican Guard planned the attack, but as his unit advanced the supporting units didn’t move, allowing rebels to surround the RG fighters. The post claims 70 KIA or captured.
List of Air Intelligence/Tiger Forces KIA on 2/28. 12 killed in "Ghouta" and 1 killed in Hawsh al-Dawahirah.

Tigers and Republican Guard both operating on the Dawahirah front - RG Brigadier General Nadr Sa'ad al-Din commanded the front before being wounded on 2/28.
h/t @vincebeshara Pictures from the frontlines of #EastGhouta showing child soldiers likely embedded with a Homs militia. Several look extremely young.

Child soldier deaths are regularly reported each month
Appears #ISISHunters have been deployed in #EastGhouta since at least 3/4 with one announced death. Interestingly, he seems to have originally fought with the Tiger Forces.

Comes as @CITeam_en reports on a possible Russian death in Damascus.
Yesterday the Tiger Forces lost 10 men+commander of the Leouth Group 'storming unit' in #EastGhouta (deployed to DeZ in early January). Only the commander comes from Hama, 7 from Latakia.

Yesterday had the most reported deaths in #Damascus since offensive began.
A 15 year old child soldier was among the Tiger Force deaths on March 7 in #EasternGhouta.

Alaa Saqr lived in Jableh, Latakia. 57% of Latakia's martyrs since the start of the Damascus offensive come from the Jableh district (~22% of Latakia's population).
Pro-govt Palestine Liberation Army announced 5 martyrs this morning in Beit Na'im #EastGhouta (captured 3/4). PLA reported a 6th death in E Ghouta on 3/6.

Free Palestine Movement/PLA usually fight in Yarmouk in S Damascus.
[Thread] 16 Days of Damascus Steel offensive in #EastGhouta:

243 pro-govt reported KIA since 2/25, 265 KIA since 2/18
28 officers KIA since 2/25, 31 KIA since 2/18
Clear correlation between urban fighting and high death tolls. In the 3 days after capturing Hawsh al-Dhawahirah, govt consolidated positions in SE Ghouta seizing the Nashabiyah salient and Hazrama w/ the only major fighting being a failed attack on Shafoniya killing at least 8.
However, losses spiked again in the capture of Shafoniya on 3/4 and the capture of Beit Sawa and concurrent rebel counter attack in Harasta on 3/7. This was the deadliest day so far with 27 reported deaths incl 11 Tiger Force fighters
The high number of KIA from 3/10 to 3/12 indicate that while the govt is making steady progress, rebels were not simply withdrawing. Although it does seem that their ability to mount a defense in Misraba, Mohamadiya, and Harasta orchards was minimal.
Breaking the initial rebel defenses relied heavily on competent commanders on the ground leading the charge. As this video shows, basic skills are still absent from ‘elite’ govt troops but the attack succeeded due to commanders pushing men forward.
Five fighters from the city of Deir Ez Zor were reported KIA in Rayhan on 3/12. Unknown what unit they’re affiliated with.
Since 3/25, 32% of Damascus deaths have been coastal. 35% since 3/1. 39% since 3/5. 31% since 3/9. Highest 4-day period was 3/6-3/9 when 54% of E Ghouta deaths came from the coast. Data shows rotation between RG units (coastal) and TF (Hama & Homs).
Compare origins of #EastGhouta deaths to previous months, noticeable increase in Homs and Coastal fighters, small increase in men from periphery governorates, decrease in proportion of Damascene deaths.
Pro-govt page claiming 100 KIA in Qadem & criticizing lack of media attention - only 11 KIA were reported here through 3/18, incl a Major, 2 Captains & a 1st Lt. Reinforcement incl 58th & 91st Brigades arrived on 3/17.
ISIS pics have shown dozens of bodies in the last 72 hours.
33 reported KIA in Qadem since 3/13 incl a Major, 3 Captains & 1st Lt. Est +50 actual deaths. Units incl Rep Guard 141st Regiment, 1st Div, & Mukhabarat Branch 215 (lost 12 men).

Branch 215 runs a detention center near Qadem & is accused of using torture.
Yesterday IS surrounded at least one unit in the neighborhood, killing and capturing most of them.

Appears today govt forces are advancing in the Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood just east of Qadem (one death reported there so far).
Loyalist post claims 101 Qadem martyrs:

45 from the 240 Signal Battalion incl Brig Thaer Dinura (pictured)
18 from an engineering unit
38 from Mukhabarat Branch 215 (mentioned above)

More losses from 141st Reg, 1st Div & Free Palestine Movement. No names yet=subject to change
Loyalist page blames Brig Abdul Suleiman of Branch 227 for the massacre in Qadem. Claims Suleiman ordered his men to attack IS unprepared in order to cover up the theft of a copper warehouse as FSA withdrew (warehouse now under IS control). Should stress these are just rumors.
57 bodies have now been brought to the Tishreen Military Hospital from Qadem. Implies govt has retaken some areas from IS.
As govt forces move through old front lines in #EastGhouta, mines continue to be a threat. Yesterday 8 fighters were wounded in Irbeen. Today, a Liwa al-Quds fighter was killed & three others injured while looting a washing machine.
19 pro-govt soldiers reported killed in the one day of the Douma offensive.
52% were coastal, 15% from Liwa al-Quds.
Compare to the 34 reported E Ghouta deaths that occurred in April, Tiger Forces did not appear to take major role in the Douma offensive.
If you’re still wondering why the govt used CW, here’s one (of many) indications: This was the 8th deadliest day since the E Ghouta offensive began & only led to some captured farmland (all days w/ more deaths came w/ major territorial gains). Douma would’ve had huge deaths.

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More from @GregoryPWaters

Sep 4, 2018
Profile for al-Komeet Forces: a #Tiger_Forces "storming unit" from Tartous led by Firas Issa (pic 1).

Group is approx company-sized (~80 men) and is the *only* known TF unit fighting IS in south Syria (now moving to Lajat).
Al-Komeet is particularly interesting bc they have close ties to both #Hezbollah and Bustan Association.

While Tigers fought IS in Reef #Aleppo in Jan 2017, al-Komeet was fighting in #Qaryatayn w/ #Hezbollah & al-Rashashat Battalion of the Bustan Association.
Firas & al-Komeet also fought with #Hezbollah in #Boukamal #DeirEzZor in Dec 2017 (pic) and likely w/ them in #Suwayda now where they cont to operate alongside Bustan’s al-Rashashat Battalion.
Read 6 tweets
Aug 8, 2018
1/8 Short thread on Dyab “Abu Arab” Afouf, commander and founder of the Tiger Forces’ “Abu Arab Groups” from Harasta, Damascus. Here he meets with Suheil on Oct 3, 2017.
2/8 According to opposition sources, Afouf’s father was a close bodyguard of Hafez Assad but was killed when he tried to run away. Dyab Afouf was reportedly known for selling drugs & alcohol in Harasta before becoming a ‘Shabiha’ then joining TF.
3/8 But what’s really interesting is his role in negotiating the surrender of Harasta in March 2018. Abu Arab Groups (made almost entirely of Damascus fighters) were sent to Harasta frontlines as early as January 6 (when most TF units were in Idlib).
Read 9 tweets
Jun 17, 2018
New thread on interesting SAA & Republican Guard facts/anecdotes I’m finding for an upcoming report. Mostly stuff from earlier in the war.
Video shows #Chechen foreign fighters in Ballermoun, Aleppo on March 17, 2014

On 3/21 rebels here killed Maj General Samea Abbas, head of the 102nd Regiment RG. On 3/25 they killed Brig General Qasi Mohammad, commander of the 415th Battalion of the 102nd.
Seems the 415th Battalion was destroyed in this battle as I can’t find any credible references to it after Qasi’s death. 102nd remained in #Aleppo until late 2017 (when deployment reports end).
Read 20 tweets
Mar 26, 2018
Robert and I spent 6 months 'inside' IS FB communities documenting their culture and strategies. We also mapped the connections between 1000 FB accounts from every inhabited continent. Full (lengthy) report to be published by @FightExtremism in early May.
We saw 1st-hand IS use FB to recruit westerners and how FB's recommended friends algorithm rapidly connects you to active IS networks. Once one IS supporter is friended, dozens from around the globe are recommended. Read this thread for just some examples:
Blatant lies by #Zuckerberg. @RobertPostings & I found dozens of public profiles of American IS supporters explicitly calling for terror attacks & using FB Live to discus how to carry out attacks. FB has done nothing to combat extremism on its platform.
Read 28 tweets

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