On January 15, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) carried out a large security operation in the town of Rankos in the Eastern Qalamun region.
According to local sources, several special forces units backed by battle tanks and armored vehicles stormed the town in the early hours of the morning, before raiding a house with several suspects.
Nine suspects, all locals, were killed during the raid. Local sources acknowledged that at least one of them was wanted for terrorism related charges.
Eight of the slain suspects, allegedly all under the age of 22, were identified as:
- Bashar Marwan Odeh;
- Hani Ghassan Abu Bakr;
- Muhammad Ghassan Abu Bakr;
- Diaa Khaled;
- Ahmed Bakr al-Khatib;
- Hamza al-Khatib;
- Mohamed Ibn Bou Akrama al-Khatib;
- Ahmed Abdul Rahim al-Khatib.
Located on the border of Lebanon, Rankos became one of the al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front main stronghold near the Syrian capital, Damascus, during the early years of the conflict. In 2014, the town was cleared in a joint large-scale operation by the SAA and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Pro-government sources revealed the security operation in the town targeted individuals responsible for a recent attack on an army checkpoint in the Eastern Qalamun region. The attack, which took place last month, killed or injured several service members.