Rebels have captured a huge armoured base (Brigade 81), some vehicles and two compounds in Qalamoun northeast of Damascus close to the Lebanon border. I think these units belonged to Assad’s Third Division. Victory here would threaten the road between Damascus and Homs and the westward route into Lebanon.
At least 75 regime fighters dead, 4 T-72 tanks and two Shika tanks destroyed in Ruhhaybah. No report on whether the brigade belongs to Assad’s elite Republican Guard which would be a nice blow to Maher Assad. This is high ground, and has been used for shelling rebel positions and nearby towns in the past.
Syrian rebels capture a group of spies who claimed to be members of the Free Syrian Army in al-Qalamoun. That’s a death sentence.
The FSA also took the Kassar barrier in heavily bombed Zabadani, killing more than 30 regime forces.
In other news…
#1. DEFECTIONS CONTINUE: 35 members of the surrounded 17th division in Raqqa have gone left the reservation to join the rebels. Defections have accelerated for many reasons since the chemical attack:
A. Disgust with that attack
B. No desire to face cruise missile attacks for the Assad Brothers and Makhloufs.
C: Sheer contagion: News of defections elsewhere is hard to hide.
D: Resentment over fellow soldiers and civilians being used as human shields.
E. Resentment over the regime placing soldiers in basements and artillery on rooftops in pro-regime neighborhoods.
IN OTHER NEWS
#2: Senior Syrian military chiefs tell captain: fire chemicals or be shot
#3: Capured shabiha (war criminals) about to face richly earned justice
#4: SORRY, NO SURRENDER ALLOWED FOR SHABIHA!: A truck full learned that today during an ambush.
#5: Syrian regime gloats over Obama’s backing down
Obama will say, “I didn’t back down” but it will just add to the well-earned contempt he has build up around the world since bugling Syria from the star.
#6: Attackers torch Saudi religious police building
#7: ALEPPO: Jabhat Nusra is reportedly leading an assault on Aleppo Central Prison. Other FSA brigades also involved, Senior Syrian military chiefs tell captain: fire chemicals or be shot chatter indicates walls breached.
#8: Another MIG has been reportly shot down today—this time in the Qalamoun area.
#9: RUMOR ONLY: 1,000 pro-Assad fighter from Iraq have flown back home via Damascus airport. Source: Markito0171. If so, why now?
#10: MORE DETAILS EMERGE ON A VIDEO. Yesterday I provided a video showing rebels using mines to kill shabbiha. I wondered why the second group would walk into the same fatal trap. It turns the dead apparently belonged to a regime outfit charged with dismantling IED, according to Markito. What they didn’t expect were land mines. When the first group was blown up, the second probably assumed a IED had blown. They then stepped on the second mine.
#11: CONVOY ATTACKED: Rebels attacked a regime convoy along the Salamiyeh-Tabqa highway, destroying three vehicles and inflicting substantial losses.
#12 QUOTES OF INTEREST:
“From Syrians I'm talking to inside are mad. Not only opposition, but civilians afraid that so far US reaction to CW has only empowered Assad.” –Elizabeth O’Bagy of the Institute for Study of War.
“How many Syrians are now looking at Jabhat Al Nusra and saying: ‘well at least they deliver’”—the 47th.
“When enemies like Assad are emboldened they do dangerous things. An irresolute policy is bad for anyone.