In face of Ghouta defeat, Syrian rebels blame each other – Reuters
Syrian rebel factions are blaming each other for opening the way to their defeat near Damascus.
The rivalry between the factions of eastern Ghouta – Failaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam – had led to the effective partition of the enclave since 2016 and fueled bouts of deadly violence that played to the government’s advantage.
Their rivalry has at some points mirrored tensions between their regional sponsors: Saudi Arabia, which has backed Jaish al-Islam, and Qatar, which supported Failaq al-Rahman.
With the help of Russian air strikes, the army has waged one of the most ferocious offensives of the war to recapture eastern Ghouta
Still, in media comments late on Sunday, the groups laid blame on each other for speeding up the government’s advances.
The Jaish al-Islam military spokesman, in an interview with al-Hadath TV, said Failaq al-Rahman had rejected a proposal to mount a shared defense of Ghouta and accused it of cutting water supplies needed to fill defensive trenches.
“These trenches dried up which sped up the regime’s advances,” said Hamza Birqdar, the spokesman.
The Failaq al-Rahman spokesman told the same TV station that Jaish al-Islam had staged a weak defense of the enclave, which advancing government forces split into three separate pockets.
“Failaq al-Rahman was stabbed in the back … via the frontlines that Jaish al-Islam was supposed to be at,” said Wael Olwan, Failaq al-Rahman’s Istanbul-based spokesman.
A Syrian official said the “conflict between the terrorist groups” in eastern Ghouta was one of the factors that had helped the military “achieve what it has achieved in a short space of time”.