“We’re not used to facing regime and Hezbollah forces at night… The night was ours, they used to prefer working in the day,” says Abu Osama al-Jolani, deputy commander of the First Army, a coalition of three Free Syrian Army (FSA) units.

“Yes, on the first day our forces were shocked: the enemy’s forces were advancing in the night, scouting then removing mines. Preparatory shelling began on positions in Al-Maymana and Al-Maysara, and night forces advanced without covering fire in the center. We lost 10 fighters on the first day, and the attacking forces also sustained a high number of losses.”

For months, FSA forces have observed groups of Hezbollah fighters and preparations for battle in the Damascus countryside’s Tel al-Hawa and Quneitra’s Nabaa al-Fawwar. These preparations — as well as communication in Lebanese Arabic and Farsi at the two sites — suggest that operations will soon move towards Al-Harah, which the FSA liberated in October 2014. […]