Faylaq al-Rahman continues using TOWs to deter government advance on Ain Terma

By Oliviero Reusser

Faylaq al-Rahman, aided by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is currently facing a determined offensive by government forces in the areas of Jobar and Ain Terma, started about a month ago. The goal of the operation is to take more territory and eventually fully capture or besiege the Jobar area, trying to create a pocket, which can then come under full control of the government via a evacuation and reconciliation deal. 

The opposition group Faylaq al-Rahman, the main frontline holder in these two neighborhoods, has deployed a variety of assets in order to stop the government advance. In addition to tanks, artillery and small weapons, the recoilless SPG-9 and B-10 guns have found regular use on this front. As seen in the video below, posted by Faylaq al-Rahman, the direct hit penetrates an area near the turret of the BMP-2 vehicle, manned by government soldiers. The vehicle is seen driving away later, but it is likely heavy damaged and if any personnel inside were hit, they are likely dead or heavily injured.

Another, by far more interesting weapon, is also being used regularly by the armed group. The BGM-71 TOW, as seen in the video below, is an US-produced and delivered guided anti-tank missile. Throughout the Syrian war, hundreds of these missiles have been supplied to various vetted opposition factions through a CIA program. While the main recipients of these groups were factions operating in greater Idlib, several groups in the Daraa and Quneitra provinces, aswell as FSA factions in Suweida have also received those. Several of these missiles and launchers have also been smuggled to the eastern Ghouta pocket, seen in the now captured Qaboun district and now in Jobar and Ain Terma. The fact its usage, despite the the extreme difficulties to smuggle further missiles into the besieged pocket, shows that FaR sees this battle as very important.

Looking at the videos, it appears that the Faylaq al-Rahman TOW operators lack experience: many misses are published. In the video below, the TOW strike hits a sand berm just in front of a T-72 AV tank (tweet falsely calls it a T-90), not destroying it.

In another strike, filmed on the 9th of July, the missile hits the T-72 (at the same place as the strike above), on the turret from the front, most likely killing any gunner inside and forcing the tank to go into repair.

We will likely continue to see more ATGM strike videos released by the group as the battle goes on. So far, they could not stop the governments slow but gradual advance, and unless another group joins the battle, it is likely that the capture is only a question of time.