SPOILS OF WAR: Syrian rebels capture a stockpile of government weapons and ammunition including rockets, rocket launchers and tank rounds after seizing a regime checkpoint in Syria’s southwestern Daraa province Sunday. Government forces retook the checkpoint on Monday, but rebels retained control of the weapons, according to Moatasim Billah, a citizen journalist in Daraa.
The checkpoint is located in the village of Western Gharia, roughly 18 km north of the Jordanian border, and is known as the “Electricity Checkpoint” for its proximity to a power plant. Billah told Syria Direct Tuesday that the checkpoint is of critical importance as part of a major road connecting the Syrian capital with Daraa and, farther south, with Jordan.
Local Coordination Committees in Daraa reported that fighting was ongoing Tuesday, and that regime forces had struck an elementary school with barrel bombs, killing 11 women and children.
Billah added that the rebel groups fighting in the area included the Free Syrian Army-aligned Yarmouk Brigade and the Masifra Martyrs, and the largely foreign al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar brigade.
The weapons seizure comes as the FSA seeks to reclaim its predominance in southern Syria, with 49 FSA-affiliated battalions claiming to number 30,000 fighters announcing last week that they had united under the banner of the “Southern Front.” It also follows revelations that Saudi Arabia plans to provide the FSA with antiaircraft rockets.
It is worth noting, however, that none of the three groups mentioned by Billah are Southern Front members.