Syria Direct: news Update 12-10-14

Rebels find burned civilian bodies in Sheikh Miskeen

Rebels reportedly discovered the burned corpses of an unconfirmed number of civilians in Sheikh Miskeen in Daraa province on Tuesday, with opposition forces accusing the regime of using the bodies as human shields, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.

“More than 20 bodies were found in an eastern neighborhood [of Sheikh Miskeen] after it was liberated: The majority of them are unidentifiable due to burning and the [bodies’] lack of features,” said the pro-opposition Sheikh Miskeen Media Center on its Facebook page Tuesday.

The media center’s page also posted a series of pictures reportedly depicting the charred bodies.

Opposition forces, led by Jabhat a-Nusra and local battalions, captured the military residential quarters in east Sheikh Miskeen from the regime on Monday after Nusra detonated a suicide car bomb in the area on Sunday.

Nusra and the rebels have been locked in a battle over the city with the regime for three weeks. By taking the city, opposition forces hope to cut the nearby supply road between Damascus and the eponymous provincial capital.

WFP brings back vouchers for Syrian refugees

The WFP announced on Tuesday that it has reinstated its food voucher program providing assistance to approximately 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.

“By mid-December, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt will have their electronic food vouchers – also known as e-cards – uploaded with an average amount of $30 per family member so that they can immediately use them to buy food from local stores,” read the announcement.

The WFP announced the program's suspension December 1, citing funding shortfalls of $64 million needed to resume operations in December.

The WFP has since raised $80 million through donations from companies, individuals and governments, via a social media campaign named #ADollarALifeline.

The largest number of individuals who contributed through wfp.org are Americans, followed by Canadians and Syrians.

Islamic court wields power in Idlib

A local Islamic court in Idlib province pressured the regime into releasing seven female detainees in the provincial capital on Tuesday after it closed the roads leading to Idlib city and cut off access to electricity and water, reported the pro-opposition news agency Orient News.

“After the regime released the sisters from Idlib city, the Islamic Agency [court] reopened the roads leading into the city and restored electricity and water,” the Islamic court said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Among Syrians in the area, the court is known as being affiliated with Jabhat a-Nusra and Ahrar a-Sham – two of the most influential opposition groups in the province, although it is ostensibly independent. Idlib city, meanwhile, remains under regime control.

The regime arrested the women two days earlier inside Idlib city for unclear reasons, although it has previously arrested relatives of Nusra fighters in Idlib city.

Nusra responded to those arrests with similar tactics, closing the roads leading to the city until the regime released the captives.

Rebels reverse Syrian army gains in Darayya

Rebel fighters reversed recent Syrian army gains in the city of Darayya in the Damascus suburbs Tuesday by killing 21 regime soldiers in a surprise attack, reported the pro-opposition Local Council of Darayya city.

Regime soldiers had taken over several points on the eastern side of the city in recent days that rebels managed to recapture in Tuesday's attack.

Pro-regime Syria News did not mention rebel progress in Darayya, instead writing that “the eastern and northern districts in Darayya saw clashes...artillery and missile barrages struck the area.”

The battle for Darayya, located near the regime-controlled Mezze military airport and one of the last opposition-controlled areas in the southern Damascus area, has resulted in almost total destruction of the city.

DarayyaRebel fighters reverse regime gains in Darayya on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of @arabic_infos.

For more from Syria Direct, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.