Kurds offer to avenge Jordanian pilot

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party offered its condolences Wednesday to Jordan after the Islamic State published video footage showing the execution of captured pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

The party threatened “to take revenge on the organization [IS] on behalf of the martyr al-Kasassbeh,” according to a statement posted on the party's website.

In related news, a member of the media campaign Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently tweeted January 8 that, “news from an #ISIS leader talked that they killed the Jordanian pilot by burning and we aren't sure if that truth until now #Raqqa #Jordan."

Abu Ward a-Raqawi, the alias of the man who wrote the tweet, told Syria Direct Wednesday about how he came to learn of al-Kasasbeh's fate in January.

A member of the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently campaign inside the city of A-Raqqa was present “when a group of the organization's members were awaiting an emir...and when the emir entered he told the fighters about the execution and how it occurred—this was January 8.”

A-Raqawi added that the site of the execution was near a former political security branch that IS turned into a headquarters, where 30 women from IS's al-Khansaa brigade were killed by a coalition airstrike.

“IS took revenge on behalf of its fighters alone,” a-Raqawi said, “the opposite of what's it's saying about civilians.”

Regime attempts invasion of Douma city

Regime forces backed by armored vehicles attempted to invade the city of Douma Wednesday morning in a sharp escalation of hostilities, reported the Douma LCC.

As of publication Wednesday afternoon, rebels have kept the government forces out of the East Ghouta city, the stronghold of Jaish al-Islam.

The regime attempted to enter Douma by way of the Wafideen Camp crossing, which it took over last November. The land campaign has been accompanied by four airstrikes and two surface-surface missiles, resulting in dozens of injured, “most of them women and children,” reported the LCC.

The ground campaign follows an announcement tweeted Tuesday by Zahran Aloush, leader of Douma's most powerful faction Jaish al-Islam, declaring all of Damascus a “military zone” and site for potential operations.

“We ask all civilians, diplomatic personnel and students not to approach the regime's checkpoints and headquarters...or walk in the capital's streets during work hours.”

Meanwhile an officer with the Syrian army in East Ghouta said in an interview with pro-regime media outlet Damascus al-Aan that the regime's response to any attack on the capital would be “more than what the East Ghouta militants expect,” especially now that a large number of civilians have fled Ghouta.

DoumaDistruction Douma on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Douma LCC.

Rebels capture Handarat camp

Rebels captured the Handarat camp just north of Aleppo city Tuesday, putting a dent in the regime's plan to encircle remaining rebel positions in the city by cutting off supply routes originating from the northern Aleppo countryside.

Harakat Hazm announced the victory on Tuesday, reported pro-opposition Siraj Press.

Most residents had fled Handarat camp, where thousands of Palestinian refugees live, after regime forces stormed the nearby town of Handarat in early October.

One of the main rebel supply routes runs from the northern Aleppo countryside through Handarat and into the city itself through its northern gate.

Rebels also took control of the al-Mayasat hill on Tuesday that overlooks al-Briej circle, part of a supply line for regime forces focused around the central Aleppo prison, reported Al-Jazeera.

Hezbollah channel Al-Manar reported that the Syrian army had retaken the hill on Tuesday, a claim that could not be verified.

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