Syria Direct: News Update 8-17-15

Advancing from Palmyra, Islamic State eyes Assad’s T4 airbase

Following a bloody fight with regime forces, the Islamic State captured farmlands and scattered buildings 17km east of the ancient city of Palmyra on Monday, as part of their campaign against the nearby T4 airbase, one of the regime’s largest and most important airbases, reported Smart News on Monday.

Monday’s gains, “deep in regime-held territory west of Palmyra,” bring the Islamic State only 35km west of the T4 airbase, Nasir a-Tadmuri, a Palmyra-based journalist told Syria Direct.

Among the territory captured on Monday is a-Dua, an agricultural area between Palmyra and the airport. With that, “IS can better supply a future campaign to capture T4, by moving men, tanks and ammunition from its base of operations inside Palmyra,” said a-Tadmuri.

As IS presses from the east, its forces to the south of the airport launched a six-ton truck bomb against the T4 base earlier this month, reportedly destroying a radar facility and killing and wounding dozens of regime forces, reported pro-opposition news All4Syria on August 5.

Ein al-Fijeh spring resumes pumping water to Damascus

Rebel factions withdrew from a spring on Sunday that is the main source of water for Damascus, handing over control and administration of the spring to civilian specialists from the rebel-held area, reported the pro-opposition Syrian Press Center.

Located 15km northwest of Damascus amidst other villages in Wadi Barada, the Ein al-Fijeh spring provides drinking water both to the capital, including the wealthy districts of Mezzeh and Maliki that count top regime officials and supporters among its population.

The Mujahidi Council of Wadi Barada announced they were cutting off the capital’s water supply from Ein al-Fijeh Friday, in a YouTube video posted by the Media Agency in Wadi Barada, originally stating that the water would remain cut off until the regime’s “criminal and tyrannical” campaigns against rebels in Zabadani ceased and every last pro-regime partisan left the city and its surroundings.

Regime forces immediately responded to the water cutoff Saturday with heavy airstrikes in Wadi Barada that killed 15 civilians, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Sunday.

The subsequent rebel withdrawal from the area on Sunday comes follows a ceasefire agreement between rebels in Wadi Barada and regime forces on Saturday in which regime forces agreed to temporarily halt their heavy bombardment of the region in exchange for resuming the pumping of water to Damascus, reported pro-opposition Syria News Saturday.

Ein al-Fijeh, water spring supplying Damascus. Photo courtesy of Ein al-Fijeh.