Bashar Assad has gathered in his military strength to defend his beleaguered capital, deploying armored forces to cut off central Damascus from the embattled southern districts of Meidan and Tadmon seized by the rebels Monday, July 16. A quarter of Damascus’s 1.8 million inhabitants live in those districts. debkafile’s military sources report they are now surrounded by six strengthened Allawite Shabiha militia battalions and under heavy fire.
Assad and his commanders have turned to a different tactic for defending Damascus: They allowed the rebels to occupy the southern districts with the intention of trapping them there and destroying them.
Our sources expect the ongoing heavy bombardment of the rebel concentrations there to result in a bloodbath on the horrific scale of the Bab al Amr massacre in Homs last February and March. The Syrian general staff has prepared for the last battle for Damascus by relocating its command headquarters to a well-fortified complex on Shuhada Street in the capital’s center, known as the “summer command” and normally housing the supply division.
The 130,000 Palestinians living in two Damascus refugee camps, Yarmuk and Hama, have meanwhile joined the rebels. Two Syrian tank columns drove into those locations early Tuesday, July 17, and have been shelling them relentlessly.
Thus ends 60 years of Assad regime investment in supporting the radical Palestinian organizations, Hamas, Jihad Islami, the Popular Front and Ahmad Jibril’s PFLA-General Command. Their top commands were provided with hospitality in Damascus during those decades.