Syria Direct: News Update 8-11-15

Victory Army gains ground around Shiite village in Idlib

Ahrar a-Sham rebels with the Victory Army coalition took a number of regime checkpoints and farms on Monday as part of an ongoing assault on al-Fuaa, one of two remaining Shiite-majority regime villages in Idlib province.
 
Rebels began an assault on the village early Monday morning with twin explosions targeting regime defensive lines around the village, and then attacked regime positions with tanks and heavy weaponry, pro-opposition Eldorar reported.
 
“We will continue until the two villages are liberated from regime forces,” an Ahrar a-Sham fighter said Monday, referring to the nearby Shiite village of Kafariya, in a videoposted on the group’s website.
 
In the same video, the fighter said the rebels were taking points east of al-Fuaa. “They are the gateway to tightening the noose on al-Fuaa,” Ahmad Nour, a correspondent with Shaam News Network told Syria Direct on Tuesday. 
 
“There are 30,000 [fighters] from different nationalities” trapped in the two rebel-encircled villages, including fighters with Iranian militias, Hezbollah, and regime forces, Abdallah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, a popular Saudi cleric who is fighting with the Victory Army near al-Fuaa told Orient News on Monday.
 
“This [offensive] will not stop at today’s attacks. What you saw today is just a picnic!” al-Muhaysini said on his Twitter account Monday, addressing regime forces in the villages.
 
Syrian regime media did not directly mention the loss of checkpoints around al-Fuaa.
 
“Syrian Arab Army airpower destroyed vehicles and dens of the terrorists called the Victory Army in the Idlib countryside,” SANA reported on Tuesday, citing military sources. 

Islamic State stymied in attack on north Aleppo gateway

Islamic State forces mounted an attack on “an entry point to the northern Aleppo countryside” that ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning when two of the IS militants detonated explosive belts after being surrounded in the town’s mosque by FSA fighters, reported pro-opposition Zamn al-Wasl.
 
“Maara is an entryway to the northern Aleppo countryside from the eastern front,” Abu Teem al-Halabi, the alias of an opposition activist in the Aleppo countryside, told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The move on Maara, the eastern gateway into north Aleppo, is not the Islamic State’s first, with the most recent attackoccurring in late July.
 
The town, with many FSA rebel factions stationed in and around it, sits a few kilometers away from the Bab a-Salaama border crossing with Turkey.
 
As in those attacks, members of an IS sleeper cell, claiming to be members of the FSA, infiltrated the town from the south and commenced their attack.