By Oliviero Reusser
In the late hours of July 8th, government forces in the southern province of Quneitra, an area which has experienced heavy clashes in recent times, captured new territory. A recently formed opposition coalition, called the Mohammad Army, launched heavy attacks on government held Madinat al-Baath in the last week, which resulted in few territorial gains but were later recaptured.
In a turn of events, government forces yesterday launched a new offensive, aimed at the village of Samadaniyah al-Gharbi, located 4km northeast of Quneitra. Local Syrian Arab Army, NDF and Golan regiment fighters advanced and captured a point called "Mikhtar villa" or "al-Feyla al-Hamra checkpoint", located on the eastern outskirts of the village. The capture of the isolated position was anticipated by a large artillery barrage, which forced the opposition factions to withdraw in order to avoid a rout and mass casualties.
Footage posted on social media shows the government forces in a newly captured position in trenches and near a fully destroyed building, most likely the "Mikhtar villa" mentioned before. Walls and earth berms are visible, indicating that the position is rather well fortified; it is likely going to be a hard task for local rebel groups if they do decide to try to recapture this position. So far it is unknown what the endgoal of this most recent government advance is, but it is most likely aimed at capturing small strategic locations in order to hinder any future opposition offensives against Madinat al-Baath.