Syria Direct: News Update 4-16-15

Idlib rebels in attempt to reverse regime gains

Rebels forces attempted to retake two towns in southern Idlib province from the regime on Thursday, an Ahrar a-Sham spokesman told Syria Direct.

“There has been hit-and-run fighting in the area, but the regime is still in the two towns,” said Abu al-Yazid Taftenaz. 

Opposition fighters inflicted losses on regime forces reinforced by Hezbollah fighters, but have not been able to retake the towns of Kafr Najd and Nahlya, said Abu al-Yazid Taftenaz.

Rebel fighters reportedly destroyed a regime armored personnel carrier with a tow-missile in one such attack near Nahlya, as shown in a video posted to YouTube by the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office.

Regime forces took the two towns on Wednesday, consolidating more territory south of rebel-controlled Idlib city.

The battle for the towns comes as regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on Idlib city and rebel-controlled areas in the province, killing 10 civilians in the northeastern town of Taftenaz, reported opposition Al-Etihad press.

Regime helicopters pound Taftenaz. Photo courtesy of Taftanaz Media Office.

Opposition media: Massacre in Zibdin

Regime forces reportedly committed a “massacre” in the East Ghouta town of Zibdin by bombing a gathering of civilians, a correspondent with pro-opposition Ghouta Alaan told Syria Direct Thursday.

“The regime launched several heavy mortars on one of the village's squares as a number of children were playing in the square, which is surrounded by open stores,” said Salih Abu Ahmed.

Pro-opposition Siraj Press reportedthat 10 people were killed and 50 injured in the attack by barrel bombs, not mortars.

Pro-opposition All4Syria reported that the regime used surface-to-surface missiles in the attack, which targeted a crowded commercial area.

“The army's operations in the farms of Zibdin and Deir al-Asafir resulted in the destruction of terrorists' dens...and the killing and injury of a number of them,” reported pro-regime daily Al-Watan Wednesday.

Syrian government raises gas prices

The Syrian government will reportedly raise the price of gasoline from 130SP [$0.69] to 140SP [$0.74] per liter, several months after lowering the price to help struggling citizens, the Syrian Director of Fuel told the pro-regime Al Baath Media on Wednesday.

The sole reason for the increase is because of a global rise in oil prices, the director explained to Al Baath.

The Syrian Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed the news on its Facebook page Thursday.

The price increase comes amidst wide-spread suspicions that the Syrian government is facing a fuel crisis.

The government lowered the price of gas from 135SP to 130SP in January 2015, ostensibly to aid ordinary civilians during the winter.

Official state news SANA had not mentioned the price increase as of publishing. MABE

Regime airstrikes target IS, kills dozens

Regime helicopters bombed a strategic Islamic State-held town in southern Al-Hasakah province on Wednesday, leading to dozens of deaths as pro-opposition and regime sources dispute the whether the killed were civilians or IS members.

The airstrikes on Shadadi targeted a general hospital and a crowded market during the afternoon, which resulted in 37 deaths and more than 100 injured, reported the pro-opposition Union of Coordination Committees for the Syrian Revolution.

Official state news SANA reported that the attack killed “tens of [IS] terrorists” in a “precision operation.”

Several large oil fields surround the town of Shadadi, which is considered the strongest IS-controlled point in the province and is located directly south of Al-Hasakah city.

Regime forces and Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG] have been battling with IS for control of the eastern province for the past several months.