Syria Direct: News Update 11-19-14

Nusra, FSA advance in Quneitra

 

Rebels made progress Wednesday towards the centers of regime power in Quneitra province as part of the recently announced “Victory from God and an Imminent Conquest” campaign, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

Rebels including the Fajr a-Tawheed and Fath a-Sham operations rooms, Jabhat a-Nusra and other FSA brigades announced the campaign in a video uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday. The campaign aims to rid Quneitra of regime forces by taking Baath City and Khan Arnaba, and thereafter to open a path northeast towards Damascus.

 

Hours after announcing the campaign, rebels captured the town of al-Mashaala located south of Khan Arnaba, reported UAE-owned :24 news network.

 

Rebels proceeded to launch mortars into Baath and Khan Arnaba, both of which have witnessed large numbers of civilians fleeing towards Damascus. One young woman died after been struck by a mortar in Khan Arnaba, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday.

 

“The FSA has opted not to use heavy weapons [against Khan Arnaba] to preserve the lives of civilians,” Jamal al-Jolani, the alias of a member of the Syrian Revolution Coordinators’ Union in Quneitra, told Syria Direct on Wednesday.

 

Nusra opens Idlib roads in exchange for prisoners

Jabhat a-Nusra reopened supply roads into regime-controlled Idlib city Tuesday in exchange for the release of two women the regime arrested on Monday, reported pro-opposition Step Agency News.

The two women were relatives of Nusra fighters who had participated in an attack against Idlib city in late October that resulted in Nusra’s capture of several regime soldiers.

In response to the women’s arrest, Nusra closed the supply roads under its control into the city, preventing the passage of hundreds of people, according to the official Nusra Twitter account in Idlib.

The Syrian government completely controls the city of Idlib, the capital of the eponymous province, as well as the nearby city of Ariha. Nusra fighters control most of the rest of the province, including points along the road between Idlib and Ariha.

RoadToIdlib Nusra agrees with regime to open supply roads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of .

US attacks Nusra-controlled town for third time

US warplanes reportedly struck the Jabhat a-Nusra-controlled town of Harem in northern Idlib near the Turkish border Tuesday night, said the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, marking the third time the US has attacked the town in the past two weeks.

In northwest Syria, west of Aleppo [Harem], a US airstrike struck terrorists associated with a network of veteran al-Qaeda operatives, sometimes called the ‘Khorasan Group,’ who are plotting external attacks against the United States and our allies,” the Pentagon said in a press release following an airstrike on the town on November 13.

The Pentagon claims the Khorasan Group is embedded in Jabhat a-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate.

Tuesday’s attack completely destroyed a two-floor building in the town, reported the Greater Harem Local Coordination Committee.

The US also attacked Harem on November 5 as part of a larger campaign in north Idlib that included airstrikes against the popular Islamist rebel group Ahar s-Sham.

Law reserves government posts for veterans, families

 

The Syrian Parliament approved a new law Tuesday that reserves 50 percent of empty positions in government departments and ministries to family members of soldiers killed during the war or soldiers who have suffered “total disability” because of wounds, reported official state news agency SANA.

 

The law is not the first time the Syrian government or NGOs have acted explicitly in the interests of families of soldiers slain during the war.

 

In October of this year, a pro-Assad charity hosted a mass wedding in Tartus for wounded veterans and brothers of soldiers killed in combat. 

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