Syria Direct: News Update 6-29-15

Three consecutive days of demonstrations in East Ghouta

Civilians in several regime-encircled East Ghouta towns took to the streets over the weekend in demonstrations calling for the end of the blockade and expressing frustrations with local rebel leadership, pro-opposition Sham News Network reported on Sunday.
 
Demonstrators in the East Ghouta town of Misraba chanted slogans demanding the release of detainees in Jaish al-Islam custody and called for the fall of Zahran Aloush, the commander of Jaish al-Islam and leader of the local Unified Military Leadership on Sunday, in a video posted to the Syria Rebels Gathering page.
 
Jaish al-Islam is the most powerful rebel faction in the east Damascus suburbs.

“Demonstrators demanded the release of detainees in Jaish al-Islam prisons on various charges such as corruption or affiliation with [rival rebel group] Jaish al-Ummah,” Anas al-Khouli, a citizen journalist in Misraba told Syria Direct on Monday. “The chants against Zahran Aloush hold him responsible for their arrest since he makes decisions in the United [Military] Command.”
 
The demonstrations began last Friday in Saqba, with renewed calls for the fall of the Assad regime, the breaking of the encirclement of East Ghouta, and for the opening of new fighting fronts.
 
Protests reached Hamouriyeh and Misraba in following days, with civilians calling for a fair judiciary to hold all accountable and put an end to the issue of detainees, and for the right of freedom of expression, in a video posted by the local Saqba Coordination Council on Saturday. 

 A weekend demonstration in East Ghouta’s Saqba. Photo courtesy of Saqba Coordination Council.

Rebels hope to break into besieged West Ghouta

A coalition of rebel groups known as the “Storm of Rightness” operations room released a statement over the weekend declaring the resumption of a battle to break the regime siege on the West Ghouta suburbs of Damascus by capturing remaining military installations in nearby Quneitra province.
 
The purpose of the Quneitra battle is to “open a path into the western Damascus countryside” by striking several points in adjacent Quneitra province, the Storm of Rightness operations room said a second statement released Saturday.
 
Rebels initially began the battle on June 16, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network. The battle was stopped two days later for unclear reasons, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct Monday.
 
“The reason might be a lack of ammunition and funding, in addition to large personnel losses without much progress,” said Mohammed al-Hourani, based out of nearby Daraa.

The Storm of Rightness operations room includes al-Jaish al-Awwal, Jabhat Ansar al-Islam, and several other brigades.