The district has been held by armed insurgent groups since 2013, the ground zero for an al-Qaeda presence in Damascus. This week dozens of Syrian soldiers have been reported killed during fighting in and near the capital.
An all out ground assault by the army is said to be “imminent” as external supply lines to various armed pockets of ISIS-linked insurgents throughout Syria have been reduced and restricted, after US president Donald Trump closed the CIA’s Syrian arms programme.
Middle East based Al-Masdar News spoke to a military officer of Syria’s elite 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division, now advancing in Jobar. His unit captured more than ten building blocks around the Al-Manasher Roundabout.
Both sides suffered heavy causalities, with Syrian Arab Army sources claiming 16 soldiers killed, while also claiming to have killed over 40 militants.
The officer added that the Syrian Army will continue to advance, pounding the jihadists with surface-to-surface missiles at night. They will only stop their assault once Jobar is cleared or the militants surrender, he said.
Residents throughout Damascus are currently experiencing the results of the advance with buildings shaking as fighting becomes more intense. Mortars, rockets, and tank fire are reportedly lighting up the night sky.
Meanwhile insurgent fighters trained, armed and salaried by the Pentagon have defected to the Syrian army. Last week there were reports of two separate groups of “Commandos of the Revolution” fighters, who share the al-Tanf base with the US military in southern Syria, crossing over and joining the loyalist camp.
There was also an official confirmation to that effect from US military spokesmen.
The US military said “a handful of isolated defections” occured while the defectors were now trying to convince the remaining Revolutionary Commandos to switch sides.
US Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a coalition spokesman, told CNN that one of the defectors was actively attempting to recruit his former comrades and convince them to join the regime but added that those efforts were having no measurable success to date. Dillon would not say whether Russia or the regime were directly behind the recruiting effort.”
The Pentagon fears yet more defections would undermine its already exceedingly shaky rationale for its unlawful presence in southern Syria: “He added the regime’s recruitment effort was assessed to have two objectives, building a force of local fighters and driving the coalition out of key real-estate in southern Syria.
“The second objective involves an attempt to weaken the coalition’s rationale for occupying At Tanf, allowing Moscow, Damascus and Tehran to pressure the US and its allies to leave the strategically valuable area.”
The defections come after the Syrian army cleaned out Deir Ezzor province with the US and insurgent forces at al-Tanf are encirled.
With Mosul in Iraq and and Raqqa in Syria partly liberated, tens of thousands of ISIS combatants have been killed while an equal number is fleeing.
Voltairenet.org reported that the Caliphate has paid salaries to 19 000 combatants, who have been allocated to 7 000 in Iraq and 12 000 in Syria.
In 2014, ISIS was effectively in command of 240 000 combatants when the Caliphate was being declared.