Syria Direct: News Update 6-17-15

Tensions between Kurdish, regime forces in divided Qamishli

Kurdish security forces in the mostly YPG-held city of Qamishli took control of a number of regime-held buildings and released detainees after clashing with Syrian regime forces on Tuesday, the pro-opposition Smart News Agency reported.
 
“The clashes happened after regime members arrested members of an Asayish [the official Kurdish security organization in Qamishli] patrol,” earlier this week, Ferhad Ehme, a Kurdish media activist in Qamishli told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
 
“After the regime refused to release [the detainees], the Asayish attempted to get them out by force.”
 
Among the regime-held positions taken by Kurdish security forces in the fighting on Tuesday were the old military security building and the train station “which was used as a military barracks housing the shabiha [National Defense Forces],” an announcement posted on official Asayish media said.
 
The buildings taken on Tuesday were among the few remnants of regime control in and around Qamishli after YPG forces took the city last year. The regime retains control of the nearby Qamishli airport.
 
Syrian state media did not mention the fighting.

Douma rebels execute shabiha leader

The Syrian regime targeted the city of Douma with surface-to-surface missiles Tuesday in what residents are calling a “massacre” in response to a local rebel group’s execution of a regime militia leader.
 
“It's clear that the regime's bombing of Douma is a response to the killing of the head of the Jaish al-Wafa, who was executed on Monday,” Ayman Abu Anas, a member of the Douma LCC, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
 
Jaish al-Wafa is a pro-regime militia made up primarily of fighters from the East Ghouta suburbs, and Douma city in particular, reported pro-opposition All4Syria Tuesday. The most powerful rebel brigade in East Ghouta, Jaish al-Islam, crucified Jaish al-Wafa leader Abu Suleiman a-Deiri on Monday, reported All4Syria. It was not clear whether he had been executed beforehand.
 
In Tuesday's attack, “the Civil Defense has documented until now, by name and by photograph, 23 people who died because of the [regime] bombing,” Mahmud Adam, spokesman for the rescue organization, told Syria Direct Wednesday. 

 Aftermath of regime bombing of Douma. Photo courtesy of The Syrian Revolution 2011.

Regime blows up dozens of houses, 3 mosques in West Ghouta

The regime demolished dozens of residences and three mosques using explosives in neighborhoods surrounding the Mezzeh military airport on Monday and Tuesday, al-Madenah News reported, in a two-day campaign to fortify the area southwest of the capital Damascus from rebel attacks.
 
The demolitions near the West Ghouta city of Darayya came “after the regime found out about an operation that rebels were planning in a neighborhood overlooking the airport,” Mustafa al-Dirani, spokesman for the pro-opposition Syrian Media Commission in Damascus and Its Countryside told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
 
While rebels hold the southern part of Darayya, the rest is in regime hands. The nearby Mezzeh military airport is one of the most important regime airbases in the country.

“The regime steals houses, then digs trenches and places mines and explosive devices to blow them up,” al-Dirani said, adding that regime campaigns since 2012 have destroyed an estimated 500 houses and more than 40 mosques in attempts to shore up its defenses in the area.
 
In a stroke of creativity, the regime contracts with large companies to sell the rubble of destroyed houses for use in other construction projects, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.