Syria Direct: News Update 6-9-15

One of Syria’s biggest bases falls to Daraa rebels

Rebel coalitions on Tuesday captured of one of Syria’s biggest military bases, located in the eastern Daraa countryside, an Ahrar a-Sham spokesman told Syria Direct.

“Opposition forces have completely liberated the Liwa 52 military base,” said Ahmed Kora Ali.

Liwa 52 is the regime’s second-largest base in Syria in terms of size and weaponry. It sits on the edge of a regime buffer zone in Daraa that protects Suwayda province, with the provincial capital 20km west of the base.

With the rebel victory, the regime now only controls a sliver of territory leading from Damascus to Daraa city, with garrisons in between in the cities of Izraa and a-Sanamayn.

An activist who happened to be at the National Hospital in Suwayda city on Tuesday reported to Syria Direct seeing regime casualties arriving.

“Those who I’ve seen among the regime’s injured and dead from the fighting over Liwa 52 were a mix of Syrians, Iranians, and other nationalities,” she said.

The hospital was so full it had become “like a graveyard,” said the activist Noura al-Basha.

Islamic State targets Hezbollah inside Lebanon

Fighters with the Islamic State moved the battle for Qalamoun inside the Lebanese borders Tuesday, staging an attack in the hills of Ras Baalbek in the Eastern Balkaa Valley, reported the pro-opposition Media Office in the Qalamoun mountains.
 
IS took control of five installations belonging to Hezbollah in the area, in addition to taking a number of Hezbollah prisoners and capturing heavy military equipment, reported the Media Office.
 
Hezbollah official channel Al-Manar confirmed that IS had launched an attack on the Ras Baalbek hills.
 
“Resistance fighters drove back an attack by armed groups belonging to the IS organization, an attack that came to nothing.”

Nusra, FSA infighting in Quneitra

As an FSA ambush team lay in wait for a column of approaching regime forces in Quneitra province on Monday, a platoon of nearby Nusra fighters sprayed the men with small-arms fire, spoiling the operation and prompting a written statement from the FSA-coalition leadership warning of swift and severe retaliation should any similar offences reoccur, reported pro-opposition All4Syria on Tuesday.
 
“Should Nusra repeat any similar offense against our men, we will retaliate with severity,” wrote the aggrieved FSA unit’s leadership, in a statement on Monday.
 
In addition to admonishing Nusra, the FSA demanded the immediate surrender and trial of the offending Nusra fighters.
 
This most recent squabble between Nusra and FSA forces in Quneitra, 60km northwest of Daraa city, comes two months after several FSA units in Daraa province announced in writing an explicit break with Nusra, refusing to coordinate or fight with what they considered an invasive rebel entity.
 
Quneitra, a water-rich region home to an eponymous city and scores of villages on Syria’s border with Israel, is the site of an ongoing regime effort to frustrate rebel attempts to inch from the south towards Damascus. 

Regime ups ante for recruits by offering 1 hot meal per day

The Syrian regime approved plans on Monday to provide soldiers on the front lines with incentives of SP10,000 monthly and one hot meal a day, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.
 
The improvements are for those soldiers “who stand on the frontlines in confronting armed terrorist organizations,” Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi told the Syrian Parliament.
 
This most recent bonus comes as part of a number of regime efforts to boost morale and attract new recruits.
 
The regime’s “Join the Armed Forces” media campaign is among the most recent efforts to attract volunteers, with billboards throughout the country urging Syrians to join the “valiant [armed] forces,” the Syrian Mirror reported Monday.
 
Late last month, a Syrian soldier posted a photo of daily rations consisting of a potato, an egg, and three pieces of bread, writing “the joke continues.”

 Billboard in Damascus urges Syrians to join the armed forces. Photo courtesy of Syrian Mirror.