In the largest battle targeting the Harasta area in two years, military factions made important advances on Monday in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta, putting security branches in the surroundings of the Syrian capital with range of their weapons.
“This is the battle for regaining the prestige of eastern Ghouta after regime forces targeted the area and Russia mocked opposition factions,” Syrian opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday.
They said the battle, which started three days ago, is currently being fought by Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Rahman and members from Hay’at Tahreer al-Sham.
“The battle also aims to demonstrate the presence of the opposition and to prevent the regime and Russians from bypassing the factions,” the sources said.
On Monday, factions managed to cut-off a key base held by the Syrian regime in the capital city's district of Harasta. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime forces began sending military reinforcements to the area to confront any fierce attacks launched by the factions and to break the siege on the base.
Separately, head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad issued on Monday a decree that reshuffled the country’s government, by appointing new ministers.
The decree named Major Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayoub as Minister of Defense, Mohamed Mazen Ali Youssef as Minister of Industry and Imad Abdullah Sara as Minister of Information, state news agency SANA reported on Monday.
The new minister of defense, Ayoub has been Chief of the General Staff of the Army and Armed Forces since 2012. He replaced Fahd Jassem al-Freij who had been the defense minister for some five years.
The decision to remove Al-Freij from his post came after the Syrian regime forces repeatedly failed to recapture the former minister’s hometown of Rahjan in the northeast of the Hama countryside.