Many of the fighters in Eastern Ghouta are from the area and move around using a network of underground tunnels. (Failaq al-Rahman, via AP)
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The Syrian government's battle to recapture the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus is likely to be a long and bloody fight because of the presence of thousands of battle-hardened fighters who have had years to prepare.If government forces retake Eastern Ghouta, only one small pocket south of the capital held by Daesh (ISIS) will remain outside of government control.Among the more than 20,000 fighters in Eastern Ghouta, a few hundred belong to the Al-Qaeda-linked Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, giving the government a pretext to continue with its assault. An official with one of the most powerful groups, Jaish al-Islam, said that if the Al-Qaeda-linked fighters don't leave or abandon the fight, "all options" are open against them, including the use of force.Below we take a look at the rebel groups involved in the battle for Eastern Ghouta.FAILAQ AL-RAHMANFailaq al-Rahman, or Al-Rahman Corps, is the second-largest rebel group in Eastern Ghouta after Jaish al-Islam.The group has about 8,000 fighters, the vast majority of them from Eastern Ghouta. It has about 600 fighters in Eastern Ghouta, a small number compared to the estimated 20,000 rebel fighters in the area.
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