Syria Direct: News Update 9-24-14

Coalition bombs fall on Iraq border town

Warplanes from the United States-led coalition bombed the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Al-Bokamel for the second day in a row Wednesday, conducting 10 airstrikes that led to an undetermined number of causalities, reported the pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Islamic State captured the town of Al-Bokamel, located in the oil-rich Deir e-Zor province, from FSA battalions on July 1, marking the latest in a series of conquests to build a caliphate straddling the border between Iraq and Syria.

In similar news, 23 civilians were killed across Syria on Tuesday as a result of US-Arab coalition bombing, the Syria Network for Human Rights reported Wednesday.

In one incident, warplanes struck a command center of Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra in Idlib province. The attack resulted in 15 dead, “most of them civilians” including several children, the Violations Documentation Center in Syria said on Wednesday.

“The present air strikes against those [extremist] groups raise concerns that civilians may also pay a heavy price, as such groups establish command centers in civilian areas in various Syrian towns and villages,” the VDC said.

Albukamel The US bombs the IS-controlled border town Al-Bokamel. Photo courtesy of pbs.twimg.

Regime ups ante in Adra

Rebels in the opposition-controlled city of Adra in the northeast outskirts of Damascus accused the regime of using poisonous gas on Wednesday and killing seven people as the regime stepped up its attack on the area, the pro-opposition news agency Adra News Network reported.

Rebels frequently accuse the regime of using gas in attacks around Damascus, using a combination of videos and photographs to corroborate their stories. Both pro-regime and pro-opposition news agencies have reported on the potential use of gas in Adra on Wednesday, although their claims could not be independently verified.

By targeting Adra, a major industrial city before the war, the regime hopes to open a pathway into East Ghouta, the epicenter of rebel operations in the area.

So far, the regime has mostly tried to enter East Ghouta from the west by way of Mleiha and Jobar, but the escalation of its attack on Adra this week suggests it is expanding its efforts to do so.

Rebels denounce US airstrikes

Various rebel groups condemned US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State and other extremist targets within Syria on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Harakat Hazm, a moderate-leaning rebel coalition that has received aid from the United States, called the strikes an act of “aggression towards national sovereignty” in a press release widely circulated Tuesday on social media websites.

Foreign intervention “will harm the revolution, especially seeing as the international community continues to ignore revolutionary forces' calls for weapons,” the group said, adding that “the only side to benefit... is the Assad regime, without any real strategy to bring about its downfall.”

In a similar vein, Abu Ratib, head of the Al-Haq Brigade that is part of the Islamic Front coalition, termed the intervention “a total war against Muslims,” in comments made to Syria Direct Wednesday.

As it concerns the strikes, “an end to the Islamic State needs to happen concurrently with an end to the equal terrorist threat represented by Bashar al-Assad's regime,” the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a grassroots network that coordinates civil disobedience campaigns and documents human rights abuses, cautioned in a press release Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the pro-government news network Damascus Now hailed the strikes on Wednesday as a historic moment, in which “happiness was etched on the faces of the majority of Syrians, because they found international support towards eradicating a cancer which has been rooted in the diseased Syrian body,” referring to the rebels.

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