The Syrian Arab Army and 40.000 Saudi Mercenaries, fighting under the Banners Jabhat al-Nusrah, Liwa-al-Islam and other Al-Qaeda Brigades are poised for a major Battle in the Qalamoun Region near the Eastern Lebanese Border.
The Syrian Arab Army is poised to confront some 40.000 Saudi – backed Al-Qaeda fighters who have used the summer months to build up a major force in the Syrian – Lebanese border town Arasal in the Qalamoun region. The main brigades are fighting under the banners of Jabhat al-Nusrah, Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa-al-Islam and Liwa al-Tahwid, indicates diplomatic chatter.
The buildup of the Saudi-backed Al-Qaeda brigades in the region began after the Syrian Army defeated the “Liberate the Coast” campaign which began on 4 August between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. in the Lattakia region, which was an attempt to prepare the ground for US military strikes and US led Special Operations in Syria was defeated by the Syrian Army.
The major buildup of forces which work in close liaison to Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry and Saudi Arabia´s Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, defeats the notion that the “opposition groups don´t operate under a unified command structure”, which is propagated by the US administration and other core NATO members as justification for their claimed inability to bring a united opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva.
The major battle is expected to begin, as Arab League chief Al-Arabi stated that the Geneva 2 conference could be held on 23 November.
The Qalamoun region is of particular strategic significance for both the Syrian Army and for the Saudi-backed Al-Qaeda mercenaries.
The Qalamoun region represents a vital breathing straw connection between Damascus, Homs and the Mediterranean port of Tartous, and it is a gateway to the mountainous coastal region North of Latakia for the Syrian Army.
The region is also the heartland of Syria´s Alewite community which is among the sternest supporters of the Damascus government, and which thus is particularly at risk for being targeted by the mercenary brigades.
There is reason to fear a repetition of atrocities and war crimes like those which were committed by the Salafist extremists during the “Liberate the Coast Campaign” in August.
The Qalamoun region is also of particular strategic importance because it is located at the eastern border of Lebanon. One of the main logistics bases of the Salafist Al-Qaeda brigades is the predominantly Sunni populated border town of Arasal in Lebanon, where some 40.000 fighters are stationed, poised for a major showdown with the Syrian Arab Army.
One of the mercenary objectives is to prevent the Syrian Army from establishing the breathing straw access to Tartous and to maintain control over the eastern Lebanese border to assure that battalions near Damascus can receive reinforcements and supplies from Lebanon.
The campaign to secure the Qalamoun region was initially planned to take place in summer, after the insurgents suffered a Stalingrad – like defeat in Qasair.
It is possible that the three major offensives by the foreign-backed insurgents have caused the delay of the Qalamoun offensive.
All three of the mercenaries campaigns were most likely launched in preparation and anticipation of a US – led military intervention, as intelligence reports and articles in nsnbc international from June and July already stated, that chemical weapons would be used in August or September to justify calls for a foreign military intervention.
These three campaigns were:
1. A major campaign for the oil-rich, predominantly Kurdish region around the city of Deir Ez-Zor which caused more than 30.000 Syrians to flee, but which was ultimately defeated.
2. The “Liberate the Coast” campaign which began on 4 August, and during which some of the most serious war crimes were committed by the 20 foreign-backed Al-Qaeda mercenary brigades which took part in the battles.
3. The major campaign to secure the Jobar Entrance to Damascus with more than 20.000 fighters under Jabhat al-Nusrah, Liwa-al-Islam and other predominantly Saudi-backed brigades from 20 to 21 August.
The campaign suffered a crushing defeat when the Syrian Army has launched the largest offensive since the onset of the war in 2011, which prompted the commander of Liwa-al-Islam, who along with other field commanders had received the explicit order to hold the Jobar Entrance “at any cost”, to launch the chemical weapons attack which nearly caused a US – led military intervention.
Troop movements and the diplomatic chatter in the region over the recent weeks and days however, strongly indicate that the Syrian Arab Army will be launching the Qalamoun campaign very soon.
On Monday, 14 October, the Chairman of the Lebanese Arab Democratic Party, Rifaat Eid, warned that Saudi Arabia was planning to burn Lebanon in retaliation is Hezbollah intervened in the battle for the Qalamoun region. Lebanon´s Arab Democratic Party maintains close ties to the Syrian Arab Baath Party.
During a news conference, Rifaat Eid said:
Saudi Arabia is running the battle in Qalamoun and we have information that it (Saudi Arabia) has warned Hezbollah against participating in the battle (because) it will cost (Hezbollah) a lot in the Bekaa and even in the North of Lebanon”.
Also a report from an, here undisclosed, EU member state´s embassy in Beirut, strongly suggests that the Syrian Army is poised to launch the Qalamoun campaign very soon. nsnbc international received a report from a Syria-based Palestinian intelligence expert, stating that the mercenaries in Arasal have received large weapons deliveries over the past weeks, and that the local production of weapons and munitions, including mortar tubes and armor plating in Arsal and Yabroud have increased significantly. Production of mortars has reportedly increased to 40 – 60 units per day, and foundries are producing large quantities of ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles.
While the Syrian Army is preparing for the major offensive, the insurgents have begun launching pinpoint attacks, digging in and fortifying positions and establishing weapons, munitions and other caches.
It is expected that the mercenaries also have received advanced weapons from Saudi Arabia and the USA via Jordan and the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan. The delivery of the advanced weapons began during the visit of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey in Jordan in the middle of August.
Whenever the battle for the Qalamoun region begins, it will be a major standoff with some 40.000 Saudi and core NATO member-backed Al-Qaeda mercenaries facing the Syrian Arab Army.
With the advanced weaponry, including Konkurs anti-tank missiles which have been delivered to the mercenaries by Saudi Arabia, the USA and other Al-Qaeda sponsors, the battle is likely to become more bloody and protracted than the battle for Qasair earlier this year.
Whether Hezbollah will intervene in the battle or not, with some 40.000 Saudi and core NATO-member-backed Al-Qaeda mercenaries stationed in Lebanon one has to be more than blind to maintain that the war Western war on Syria has not spread into Lebanon already.
Hezbollah sent ambiguous messages over the last days. With Saudi Arabia, Israel and NATO members interested in weakening Hezbollah, it is likely that Hezbollah could be drawn into the battle, regardless.
Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. His work with traumatized victims of conflict has led him to also pursue the work as political consultant. He is a lifelong activist for peace and justice, human rights, Palestinians rights to self-determination in Palestine, and he is working on the establishment of international institutions for the prosecution of all war crimes, also those committed by privileged nations. On 28 August 2011 he started his blog nsnbc, appalled by misrepresentations of the aggression against Libya and Syria. In March 2013 he turned nsnbc into a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at firstname.lastname@example.org