Syria Direct: News Update 9-10-15

IS less than 3km from regime airbase in Deir e-Zor

Regime and Islamic State forces exchanged artillery and rocket fire Thursday after the latter captured a regime base considered the “first line of defense” for Deir e-Zor airport as well as a barracks, an activist told Syria Direct Thursday.

The Missile Brigade’s army base, less than 3km away from the airport, “is considered the first line of defense southeast of the airport,” said Muhammad Said, an activist and former resident of Deir e-Zor city now living in Turkey who maintains close contacts in the provincial capital.

IS captured both the regime’s Missile Brigade army base and the al-Binaa al-Abyad barracks on Wednesday, to the southeast and east of the regime’s airbase respectively, reported pro-opposition All4Syria Thursday.

The exact distance between the Missile Brigade base and the airport is not clear. While pro-opposition sources put the distance at anywhere from 1.5km to 3km, two of Syria Direct’s sources said the base is up to 3km from the airport.

The Deir e-Zor military airport is the third-largest regime airbase and is also the regime’s launching pad for air raids on the Islamic State in the province writ large.

After two years, al-Husseinia camp residents return home

The return of a third and final group of civilians to the south Damascus al-Husseinia refugee camp began on Wednesday, pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported, as regime forces continued to allow residents to return to the neighborhood after two years of displacement.

Since regaining control of the camp from FSA forces two years ago, the regime had promised to allow al-Husseinia residents an eventual return while citing security concerns and destroyed infrastructure as a result of the fighting between regime and rebel forces that displaced its residents as reasons for the delay.

“The camp was not rebuilt,” Amir a-Shami, a citizen journalist from al-Husseinia told Syria Direct in an interview this past March, suggesting that regime fears for the security of the nearby heavily Shiite Sayeda Zainab district were to blame for being unable to return for two years.

Around 25,000 people from “the families of soldiers and state employees” were permitted to return to the camp in two previous groups last month, Mohammed al-Umri, a spokesman from the Syrian State Ministry for National Reconciliation, told Al-Watan.

All returnees to the camp continue to contend with the destruction of past fighting.

“There are absolutely no services here,” one returning camp resident waiting to receive water from a truck told pro-regime Lebanese channel al-Mayadeen in a video posted on Wednesday.

Coalition airstrike reportedly kills “Lion Cubs” in A-Raqqa

At least 15 “Lion Cubs,” the child recruits of the Islamic State (IS), were killed in an alleged international coalition airstrike west of the city of Tabqa in A-Raqqa province, Furat al-Wifa, a Raqqa-based journalist, told Syria Direct on Thursday.

“Most of the dead are civilians, the families of IS detainees, who were forced to dig trenches around IS military positions,” said al-Wifa of Wednesday’s strike.

The Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign confirmed al-Wifa’s account, writing on Facebook Wednesday that “tens died, including 15 Islamic State cubs in the coalition bombing.” Pro-opposition Shaam News Network reported 30 dead, both civilians and IS.

IS, for its part, claimed 30 dead, killed by coalition “Apaches and drones.” The coalition has yet to comment on any operations in the vicinity of Tabqa.