Nusra takes Wadi Deif, Hamadiya military bases
Jabhat a-Nusra captured the Wadi Deif military base in southern Idlib province from the regime Monday, while its ally Ahrar a-Sham reportedly seized control of the nearby Hamadiya military base shortly afterwards, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“With the preference of God, [Nusra] liberates the Wadi Deif base in less than 24 hours,” said the official Jabhat a-Nusra Twitter account for Idlib province.
Wadi Deif is one of the largest regime military bases in Syria, and sits on the strategic M5 international high that connects Damascus and Aleppo. Rebels of all factions have attempted to capture the military stronghold for over a year and half.
“[Ahar a-Sham] frees all of Hamadiya while the rest of Assad’s soldiers flee,” said the Islamic Front’s official social media account on Monday. Ahar a-Sham is a major member of the Islamic Front.
The capture of Wadi Deif and Hamadiya comes one day after Nusra, Ahrar a-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa captured a number of checkpoints around the two military bases on Sunday, killing at least 50 regime soldiers and destroying five tanks, reported pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher.
Jabhat a-Nusra claims to be using US-made Tow missiles in Idlib. Photo courtesy of @Idlib_JN.
Daraa rebels reportedly pledge allegiance to IS
Three rebel brigades in the Daraa countryside reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) Sunday, amidst rising tensions between one of the brigades and Jabhat a-Nusra, reported pro-opposition Cham Times.
While various pro-opposition media activists spread the news Sunday on social media websites that Liwa Shuhada Yarmouk, the most prominent of the three groups, had pledged allegiance to IS, the group itself has not yet released a statement.
The group did, however, upload a video to YouTube in late September displaying its fighters at a training camp, in which what appears to be the IS banner flying above the Liwa Shuhada Yarmouk logo.
Activists had written about the group's pledge of allegiance to IS weeks ago “in preparation for IS entering Daraa,” reported Cham Times.
IS-affiliated news outlets published photos last Tuesday confirming the Islamic State’s capture of parts of Bir al-Qasab, considered the gateway into Daraa province, wrote Al-Monitor's Abdullah Suleiman Ali last Tuesday, adding that “it is no longer a secret that IS intends to enter Daraa.”
Liwa Shuhada Yarmouk has begun to fight with Jabhat a-Nusra in Daraa province amidst news that it pledged allegiance to IS.
On Sunday, the two sides engaged in a firefight in the town of Sahm al-Jilan in Daraa province, after Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk reportedly captured Nusra fighters at an unspecified earlier date, reported the Syrian observatory for Human Rights.
Regime inches towards taking Aleppo
Regime forces captured the area Mazaraa al-Maleh just north of Aleppo city on Sunday, as they attempt to cut off the last rebel supply line into Syria’s second-largest city, reported state news agency SANA on Sunday.
The advance comes in the wake of UN special envoy Stefan de Mistura’s efforts last week to persuade opposition leaders in Turkey to support a “freeze” in the fighting around Aleppo.
Most rebels inside Aleppo have rejected the “freeze.”
The Syrian army, supported by Afghani, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, killed 34 rebels Monday, including members of Jabhat a-Nusra and other Islamist militant groups, during the attack, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The regime has made a number of gains around Aleppo city since July, raising fears among the opposition that it would encircle rebels inside and isolate them from military and humanitarian support.