Infighting breaks out between rival Islamist factions in Eastern Ghouta

By Naveed Malekafzali (Twitter)

Rif Dimashq - Another round of infighting broke out yesterday in the al-Asha'ri neighborhood of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta between the rival factions of Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) and Faylaq al-Rahman, the latter faction being supported by Hay'at Tahrir ash-Sham (HTS). The infighting began when HTS/Faylaq al-Rahman fighters launched an attack on Jaysh al-Islam positions in the farmlands of al-Asha'ri, capturing the area and killing seven JAI fighters.

Jaysh al-Islam fighters march behind a tank during the first day of infighting in Eastern Ghouta

Jaysh al-Islam fighters march behind a tank during the first day of infighting in Eastern Ghouta

No gains or casualty figures have been reported by either side since the fighting began one day ago, but Jaysh al-Islam has stated that a second attack in the neighborhood by Faylaq al-Rahman and HTS fighters began a little before 9 PM local time on July 8. 

While in previous years, Jaysh al-Islam and HTS (previously Jabhat an-Nusrah) were on-off allies and enemies, the tensions exploded into full-on ideological and military conflict in April 2017, where Jaysh al-Islam attempted to take control of the entirety of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, but the offensive eventually lead to an indecisive stalemate.

Both sides are currently dealing with government offensives on their positions: Faylaq al-Rahman in Jobar and 'Ayn Terma, and Jaysh al-Islam near Hawsh al-Dawahira. These points are located in the southwest and the east of the Eastern Ghouta pocket.