Syria Direct: News Roundup 9-29-15

Syrian forces 7km from Islamic State-encircled airbase

Syrian regime forces are within seven kilometers of its last remaining base in the east Aleppo countryside on Tuesday, one which has been tightly encircled by Islamic State forces for nearly two years.

The Syrian military launched a two-pronged ground offensive against IS forces, "attacking from regime-held towns and villages west and southwest of Kweiris air base,” Hussein al-Halaby, a journalist with the Aleppo Media Center, told Syria Direct on Tuesday. The Islamic State surrounded the base in mid-2014.

A succession of rebel brigades have encircled Kweiris airbase since January 2013. Although it no longer holds the same military utility it once did as a launchpad for regime airstrikes against Aleppo city, Damascus is feeling popular pressure to halt the fall of airbases across Syria following Jabhat a-Nusra’scapture of Abu Duhur airbase in Idlib in early September.

Hospital destroyed after hit by three missiles

A series of air strikes hit the only hospital in a rebel-held Damascus suburb on Monday, putting it completely out of service, which the Unified Medical Office for Douma reportedis the latest in a series of regime attacks that have killed dozens of doctors and Civil Defense workers in East Ghouta this year.

The bombing destroyed sixty-five percent of the building, prompting the hospital’s administration to announce the complete stoppage of services until further notice.

The hospital in Kafr Batna “was directly targeted by three missiles,” Mohammad Ballour, the hospital’s administrative director told Syria Direct on Tuesday, in strikes that left three of its staff dead and two injured.

Monday’s airstrike was the fourth aerial attack to target purely civilian institutions in East Ghouta this month, Mahmoud Adam, the Outer Damascus Civil Defense spokesman told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

A hospital worker surveys what was his town's only hospital. Photo courtesy of Kafr Batna LCC.

West Damascus ‘first line of defense’ falls to rebels

A regime base used as a “launching point” for attacks on rebels west of Damascus has fallen, a Free Syrian Army-affiliated journalist in Daraa with contacts on the ground told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The base was also the “first line of defense,” protecting regime positions in the western Damascus countryside 32km away from rebel incursions, said Mohammed al-Hourani, whose account matched those in the opposition media.

The capture of the Tranja Platoon’s military base (also called the 4th Platoon) is the latest rebel gain in rebel campaign "to open a path to West Ghouta,” according to the official announcement by the campaign’s joint operations room last week.