Syria Direct: News Update 6-30-15

IS allows fuel shipments into rebel-controlled areas

Civilians in the east Idlib and north Aleppo countryside were able to access fuel on Tuesday after the Islamic State [IS] permitted a number of trucks carrying diesel to pass through its territory in order to reach rebel-held areas on Monday, the pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center reported.

“There is no official agreement between the rebels and IS to open the road, but rebels announced the opening of the road from their side [on Sunday] to allow the passage of food into IS-controlled areas,” Ahrar a-Sham spokesman Abu Al-Yazid Taftanaz told Syria Direct on Tuesday. Ahrar a-Sham is one of the main rebel groups in the north Aleppo countryside.  

The entry of diesel to rebel areas on Monday lowered the price of a barrel of diesel from SP75,000 ($397) to SP23,000 ($121) he added.

Civilians buy and sell fuel at a market in the Idlib countryside. Photo courtesy of @Ahrar2015_ghota.

The Aleppo Victory Army operations room announced on Sunday that the rebel coalition would continue to allow the flow of goods to areas controlled by IS, and that it would work to safeguard the passage of fuel to civilian markets.

IS has blockaded fuel shipments to rebel areas in northern Syria over the past month, leading to severe shortages and high prices.

Earlier this month, the Hama Health Administration declared the suspension of all hospital and clinic work as a result of IS’s restriction of fuel.  

As desperation for fuel increases, civilians have resorted to extreme measures. During IS fighters’ absence in the aftermath of a regime airstrike on their positions near the city of Al-Bab in the north Aleppo countryside three days ago, civilians made off with around 40 presumably full oil tankers, Taftanaz said.

Rebels pick off command post in quest for Daraa city

The rebel “Southern Storm” operations room destroyed a regime command post in a neighborhood considered the first line of defense for remaining regime positions in the contested provincial capital, a spokesman with al-Jaish al-Awwal told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The regime command center that was targeted with what looks like an improvisational missile was tasked with giving orders to soldiers in al-Manshia, the first line of defense, “in order to protect [nearby] Daraa al-Mahata,” said Abu Qais al-Hourani, currently in Daraa city as part of the Southern Storm campaign.

“Should al-Manshia fall to the rebels, that would mean rebels reaching the security complex [in Daraa al-Mahata],” he added. The security square contains the regime's most fortified positions in the city

The missile rebels used used to destroy the building was locally produced, a military source was quoted by pro-opposition Syria Mubasher as saying Monday. Syria Mubasher's source put the number of regime dead at 40, while al-Jaish al-Awwal spokesman al-Hourani said 14 were killed.

In related news, a member of the FSA's military council announced to the London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed Monday the launch of the “Storm of the South” battle, which aims to capture remaining regime controlled points in Daraa city, a city currently split between rebels and regime forces.