Syria Direct: News Update 4-29-15

Islamic State hangs on to Yarmouk, for now

The regime dropped 14 barrel bombs and fired rockets and mortars into Yarmouk camp on Tuesday in conjunction with several failed attempts to storm, reported the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria Wednesday, a monitoring group with correspondents inside Yarmouk.

The bombing injured an unspecified number of civilians.

Regime forces and allied PFLP-GC soldiers made several unsuccessful attempts Tuesday to enter Yarmouk camp, as “groups from the Islamic State and Nusra and some Palestinian brigades on the inside resisted the attacks,” a citizen journalist currently inside Yarmouk told Syria Direct Wednesday.

Rebels inside the camp reportedly killed 30 soldiers from the PFLP-GC and other regime-allied Palestinian brigades during an ambush Tuesday, reported the pro-opposition Syrian Revolution Network in Areas of Damascus.

Regime pushes back in Sahl al-Ghab

Regime forces recaptured a village in the al-Ghab plains region of northwest Hama on Wednesday in a first step towards opening up the supply route leading to rebel-controlled Jisr a-Shughour, reported the National Defense Forces Facebook page Wednesday.

The regime's takeover of Furu village opens up a supply route to the contested city of a-Ziyara in al-Ghab, which in turn lies on a critical regime supply route running to Jisr a-Shughour, Abu Hayan al-Hamawi, a member of the pro-opposition Hama Media Office, told Syria Direct Wednesday.

Al-Hamawi denied shabiha reports that regime forces had taken control of the town, saying that “the village is witnessing [ongoing] battles since this morning.”

The governor of Hama province Ghassan Khalaf visited the al-Ghab plains Tuesday, as “the people of Sahl al-Ghab renewed their support for the Syrian army and armed forces in its continued war against terrorism,” reported Syrian official news agency SANA.

Rebels began the battle for the northwest Hama plains known as Sahl al-Ghab last Thursday. Rebel control of the flatlands adjacent to Latakia, combined with the recent takeover of Jisr a-Shughour, would cut off supply lines to remaining regime forces in southern Idlib and also facilitate a future rebel attack on Latakia province.

UN delegation tours southern Damascus

A delegation from United Nations toured several neighborhoods in southern Damascus on Tuesday to survey the conditions of hundreds of families displaced from Yarmouk camp, reported the Damascus-based opposition media organization Revolution’s Spring.

“The presence of Palestinians in the neighborhoods of south Damascus was the primary impetus for [UN] organizations and institutions to enter the areas, and aid is now being delivered nearly daily,” Walid Agha, an activist with the Revolution’s Spring told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Despite repeated UN demands for access to the Yarmouk camp itself, where thousands of civilians remain, Islamic State control over the camp has limited its agencies to providing aid to the areas around the camp only.

 A convoy of UN vehicles in south Damascus on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Revolution's Spring.

Rebels seek to drive IS from Quneitra

A coalition of rebel factions killed tens of Islamic State fighters while taking a town in the Quneitra countryside on Tuesday as part of a wider rebel campaign to clear Quneitra province of IS sleeper cells, reported the opposition al-Etihad Press.

Islamist and FSA fighters took the town of Adnaniya, in addition to taking most of the town of Qahtaniya, where rebels have surrounded IS forces holed up in several houses, a correspondent from the Shariah Court of Houran, which mediates between rebel factions in southern Syria, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Islamist brigades, including Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, in addition to the FSA’s First Army, began pursuing IS forces in Quneitra on Tuesday, in response to the Shariah Court of Houran’s request on Monday for rebel brigades to eradicate IS’s presence in Quneitra.

The Court’s request was released after an FSA convoy was ambushed by a pro-IS group outside Qahtaniya on Sunday.