April 26, 2013
By Nuha Shabaan and a reporter in A-Raqqa
A-RAQQA: Activists in A-Raqqa province say the regime’s air force is targeting residences and factories around the capital city to divert the FSA and deliver much-needed supplies to the besieged Division 17.
“The air force is focusing raids on civilian neighborhoods to distract the FSA from taking over Division 17,” said Hussam, a university student and activist at the independent A-Raqqa Media Center in the provincial capital. Regime forces “are trying to get aid to Division 17 and they cannot do it,” he added.
In recent days, air force strikes have hit the local train track, a sugar factory and civilian homes killing at least five people. On Friday, at least two Scud missiles reportedly fell in al-Mansoura, west of A-Raqqa City.
This week, other air strikes around Division 17 slowed down the FSA’s progress in capturing the base. Regime helicopters attempted to land, but FSA-led battalions repelled them. The choppers tossed out four boxes of ammunition, which included tank shells, but only one landed inside the Division 17 area. The rest were seized by the rebels.
Division 17 is the regime’s last stand in northeast Syria. The FSA and its Islamist allies have, by several accounts, managed to capture 85 percent of it. But in the past week, FSA forces have been unable to complete the takeover of the base despite their confident predictions to the contrary.
“The air raids are continuous,” said Abu Abed al-Rahman, an activist in A-Raqqa. “Regime forces control only the headquarters and medical battalion.”
In related news, a demonstration took place in downtown A-Raqqa City on Thursday calling on the FSA authorities to activate the judicial system.