I have not seen my city Damascus since I left it in the 1970s. The details of its neighborhoods, however, are still engraved in my memory. I still remember the Abbasid Square and the Barzeh and Qabdoun suburbs where there are currently battles between Syrian Sunni groups and Shiite militias led by commanders of the Iranian invasion of Syria.
The Syrian regime launched the battle more than a month ago. Its air force heavily shelled the neighborhoods of Qaboun and Barzeh where poor people work in neighboring factories. The Iranian intelligence controls the air force which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lost control. Therefore, it was not him behind the firing of anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli air force jets which shelled convoys transferring arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
What’s the aim of shelling religious organizations in control of the Barazeh and Qaboun heights? The tactical aim is to fully secure the Damascus-Aleppo road. The strategic aim is to displace these organizations and their families – including al-Nusra Front which controls these two suburbs – to the western-northern Edleb governorate and allow the families of Shiite groups to reside there. They want to do exactly what they did before when they isolated and besieged groups and their families in the south, west and southeast of the Damascus countryside.
To accomplish their aim of invading Barazeh and Qaboun, the regime and Iran are planning to occupy Damascus’ eastern countryside, Jawbar, Harasta and Duma, which comprises a solid fort that groups sometimes use to shell Damascus and particularly the Christian al-Qasaa neighborhood and the al-Adawi neighborhood which is linked to the significant Abbasid Junction.
Battle in the suburbs
The negotiating organizations have kicked off the battle in Hama’s countryside and it’s clear that the aim is to block the road between Damascus and Aleppo and force the regime to make concessions to the political and armed opposition in order to survive – knowing that the regime succeeded at including the item “fighting terrorism” in the talks. Perhaps, it means combating Iranian violence in Syria.Ghassan Imam