June 18, 2014
The largely opposition-held city of Deir e-Zor faces a two-pronged siege, from the regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. The city has been blockaded since June 3 when ISIS seized control of the a-Siyasiya Bridge on the Euphrates River, the rebels’ only supply route into the city.
The oil-rich province in eastern Syria has been a battleground between the regime, ISIS and rebel forces led by Jabhat a-Nusra since April of this year. Activists claim that the regime and ISIS do not fight each other, a charge that could not be immediately verified.
Deir e-Zor city earlier this week.
Rebels fended off attacks on the central Deir e-Zor neighborhood of Huweiqa Tuesday night, according to pro-opposition news site El Dorar, as the regime bombarded the area with artillery fire.
Meanwhile, news broke Wednesday that four top rebel commanders in Deir e-Zor have defected from the opposition and joined ISIS amidst major ISIS gains in Iraq last week, local media activists reported.
Rebels fear that ISIS’s seizure of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, and heavy weaponry taken from the Iraqi army will bolster ISIS’s position in Deir e-Zor, which shares a border with Iraq.
Amro al-Dairi, an independent activist from Deir e-Zor, discusses the siege with Osama Abu Zeid.
Q: Has ISIS gained in rebel-controlled areas?
Yes, this has happened many times. ISIS took control over rebel-held areas in the rural areas some days ago. Clashes broke out between ISIS and the rebels that led to ISIS’s victory, and the rebels were expelled from the area.
Q: Which areas are under blockade? What is the blockade mechanism?
All the neighborhoods in the city are under blockade except the al-Qusour and al-Joura neighborhoods, which are under regime control. Airplanes and artillery continually bombard the blockaded neighborhoods.
Rebels are encircled in the Deir e-Zor neighborhood of Huweiqa.
Q: When was the last time aid entered Deir e-Zor? Who distributed it?
Aid entered last month. The aid was delivered to organizations and then was distributed.
Q: Are there real mediators for negotiations between you, ISIS and the regime? Is there a specific solution?
We did not reach an agreement with either of the two parties until now. We planned from the campaign that the first thing for the solution is that ISIS completely retreat from the city outskirts, and that attacks should stop and food aid be allowed in to rescue the blockaded families inside the city.