Syria Direct: News Update 4-27-15

Islamic State encroaches on Al-Hasakah city

Islamic State forces launched a multi-pronged attack on Al-Hasakah on Sunday, attacking three checkpoints on the city’s outskirts and taking control of several positions to the city’s west and south, reported pro-opposition Siraj Press.

“What is outstanding about this attack is that the Islamic State has begun to use cars in suicide attacks, which is what they do when they intend to capture,” Alaf Hussein, the correspondent for a Kurdish radio station in Al-Hasakah told Syria Direct on Monday, commenting on IS suicide car attacks on two regime checkpoints ouutside the city.

The situation is “under control,” the government’s National Defense Forces wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. An accompanying photograph outside the southwest corner of the city shows an NDF presence at a quiet intersection.

In response to the attack, the regime sent in 800 soldiers from Qamishli to reinforce its frontlines in Syria’s far northeast province, reported the pro-regime Hasakah News Network.

The Islamic State has been battling regime and Kurdish forces for control of Al-Hasakah’s countryside for a year. Sunday’s attack marks the first time IS has made a concentrated attack on the city itself.

The National Defense Forces at a checkpoint on Al-Hasakah's outskirts on Monday. Photo courtesy of National Defense. 

Syrian government values $1 at SP260

Syria’s Central Bank set the value of one US dollar at SP260.21 for banks and SP260.70 for currency exchange businesses on Monday, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

No explanation was given for the valuation.

A kilo of Arabic bread currently costs SP35 in Damascus, but heavy subsidies do not apply elsewhere and prices can average from SP200 per kilo to up to SP600.

Earlier this month, the government raised the price of gasoline from SP130 [$0.69] to SP140 [$0.74] per liter, citing higher oil prices globally.

Before the war began in 2011, the unofficial value of a dollar in Syria was around SP50.