Al-Otaiba ambush

Al-Otaiba ambush
Part of the Syrian civil war
Date26 February 2014
LocationGhouta, Syria
Result Successful Syrian Army & Hezbollah ambush
Commanders and leaders
Abu Mohammad al-Julani Ra'fat Salman Abu Rahhal[1]
160–250 militants Unknown
Casualties and losses
175[2]–192[3] killed,
7[2]–58[3] wounded/captured

The Al-Otaiba ambush was a successful military operation conducted on 26 February 2014 by Hezbollah and the Syrian Army against al-Nusra militants at Al-Otaiba. According to analysts, the military operation may have tightened the government's grip on east Damascus.[4]


The Syrian army operation began two weeks prior, when Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate intercepted communications between al-Nusra front officers in Jordan and the Qalamoun front commander, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, planned for a contingent of over 250 men to travel from the Qalamoun Mountains to the Jordanian city of Al-Mafraq. The plan was to travel during nightfall to avoid being spotted by the enemy combatants and to avoid any congestion on the roads. After intercepting this correspondence, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah began to fortify the area and plant mines along the perimeter of the town and Al-Utayba Lake.[3]

At approximately 12:00 A.M., the insurgents from al-Nusra front and Jabhat al-Islam (Islamic Batalion) began moving towards the Jordanian border. Unaware of the ambush set up, the convoy of vehicles halted before entering the East Ghouta. This was due to orders passed down from Al-Joulani that required the men to move on foot.[3]

Around 2:45 A.M., the insurgents arrived in Al-Utayba. All that was left to do was to cross a desolate plot of land and enter safely into Jordan. The militants, unaware they just entered a hundred-yard minefield, began to pick up the pace towards the border. This is when the mines began to explode creating chaos between militant lines. Remaining militants attempted to flee the minefield, but the darkness made it difficult to avoid the mines. Once it became quiet, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah began to fire mortar shells at the insurgents, to finish off survivors. Most of the rebels have been reported to be Saudi, Qatari, and Chechen nationals.[3]

The attack was led by Hezbollah.[5]


A video reveals a recording of the actual detonation of the ambush, which was carried out in two waves. The first of which caused the brunt of the casualties.[6]

Hezbollah's al-Manar TV station reported that the fighters were trying to break out of Eastern Ghouta to join battles in either the town of Deraa or the Qalamoun mountains. The militant group Jaish al-Islam claimed the dead were civilians, trying to escape a siege, and said it had not lost any fighters, however images of the casualties later surfaced via social media confirming all of the dead as militants.[7]


Coordinates: 33°48′00″N 37°01′00″E / 33.8000°N 37.0167°E / 33.8000; 37.0167

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