EA Worldview reports that at least 1,360 people were killed in Damascus suburbs in what are believed to have been chemical attacks: In the days leading up to the August 21 attack, insurgents launched a series of attacks on regime positions in Abbasyeen, Damascus.
On Monday and Tuesday, footage showed insurgents from the Islamist Liwa Fustat al-Muslimeen targeting the regime’s Civil Defense Office in Abbasyeen — including with Croatian M79-Osa anti-tank weapons.
On Tuesday, State media reported that the attacks caused eight civilian deaths in the Damascus neighborhoods of Abbasyeen and Al Zablatani, with a shell hitting the Al Abbasyeen Stadium.
The regime is not just under increased pressure in Damascus. Elsewhere in Syria, it has faced insurgent gains in key areas — including an insurgent offensive in Assad’s home province of Latakia, insurgent victories in Daraa in the south and in Deir Ez Zor, where insurgents have taken, and so far held, key neighborhoods in the city. In response, the regime has launched counter-offensives, characterized by airstrikes and artillery shelling. However these counter-offensives, together with ongoing in fighting in Homs — where the regime has invested considerable firepower to try to regain control — have spread Assad’s forces thin.
In the days leading up to the attack, insurgents based in Jobar — one of the Damascus suburbs hit in in Wednesday’s attacks and in the ongoing Damascus offensive — launched an assault, including with Croatian anti-tank missiles, at regime positions in Damascus.
Increasingly under pressure, and facing increased attacks on its positions in Damascus and elsewhere, the Assad regime decided to gamble on a major offensive to regain control of the Damascus suburbs. It gambled that the international community would not respond with intervention, and that the attacks would buy him enough time and weaken the Damascus suburbs to such a degree that Syrian forces could carry out a ferocious and swift offensive across multiple targets.
Wednesday’s attack can also be seen as an escalation of another tactic that Assad has employed against insurgent-held areas — that of “terror bombing“, i.e. the use of a ferocious, highly destructive attacks against civilian populations to create terror and fear, in the hope that this will weaken insurgent strongholds. [Continue reading…]