Syria Direct: News Update 4-21-15

Nusra carries out twin suicide bombing in Ariha

Jabhat a-Nusra carried out a suicide bombing operation Monday in the southern Idlib countryside, reportedly killing 70 regime soldiers and allied militiamen, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct Tuesday.

Two suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts amidst a large crowd of regime soldiers in the city of Ariha, which lies on a regime supply route between Latakia and Aleppo, after engaging in a protracted firefight, said citizen journalist Fares a-Sayyed Ali.

Nusra claimed responsibility for the operation through their Murasel Idlib Twitter account Monday, noting that the bombers “infiltrated the girls school and government clinic in Ariha city” before firing on regime forces and blowing themselves up.

Ariha is one of the few remaining regime-held positions in Idlib province.

FSA repels regime attack on Busra al-Harir

Rebel forces led by the FSA-affiliated Southern Front repelled regime attacks on the town of Busra al-Harir in Daraa province Tuesday, stymieing the government’s effort to win control of the main road between Daraa and Suwayda, a spokesperson for the pro-opposition news organization Independent Reporters of Houran told Syria Direct.

Regime forces, including Iranian and Afghani fighters, tried to storm Busra al-Harir several times but failed, the spokesperson said Tuesday.

Busra al-Harir is located on the highway from Daraa to the provincial capital of Suwayda.

The rebels also managed to capture several regime soldiers during the fighting, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.

Tuesday’s attacks on Busra al-Harir come after the Syrian army cutt off a key rebel supply line between Daraa and Jordan the day before, reported official state news agency SANA.

The US-backed Southern Front is widely considered the strongest FSA-affiliated group in Syria.

 Daraa rebels capture regime soldiers Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Houran Independent Journalists.

Nusra attempts to prevent fortification of Hama town

Jabhat a-Nusra infiltrated the countryside southeast of Hama city to carry out hit-and-run attacks on two checkpoints around the town of Saraheen on Monday, a local reporter told Syria Direct.

“Nusra is trying to prevent the regime from further fortifying the area as it is a weak point that could be exploited in an attack against Hama city,” said Yarub al-Dali, a correspondent for opposition news outlet Syria Mubasher.

The Al-Qaida affiliate killed 15 regime fighters and seized a regime truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun, reported the Local Coordination Council for Hama.

 “The attack did not yield any positive results for Nusra…the complete opposite, in fact, as the regime took revenge on the civilians by burning their houses after Nusra pulled out,” Murad al-Hamawi, a media activist from the town told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Jabhat a-Nusra attacked the town, which sits on a supply route from Hama city into the province’s southern countryside and northern Homs, earlier this month, blowing up a weapons depot where the regime was building another checkpoint.

Rebels take Aleppo church

Opposition fighters captured a church on the outskirts of a Christian neighborhood in northeast Aleppo city on Monday, cutting off regime supplies to the area, the director of the pro-opposition news agency Aleppo Network Now told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

The church was a base for regime fighters, said Ismail a-Raj, the alias of the director.

By taking the church, rebels severed the main supply line into the regime-held Christian neighborhood of al-Midan, reported pro-opposition news Halab News.

At least ten regime soldiers were killed in the fighting for the church, according to pro-opposition Sham News Network.

The rebel attack comes amidst a major regime barrel bomb campaign against the city over the past two weeks.

Local medical staff, UN call for humanitarian aid to Yarmouk

Doctors with the Palestine Red Crescent Society in Yarmouk camp issued a call for aid Monday in response to a lack of medicines and medical equipment that has prevented the staff from “undertaking our humanitarian duty towards the sick and wounded,” according to a Facebook post.

Also on Monday, the UN Security Council called for “unhindered humanitarian access” to the camp as it expressed “deep concern about the grave humanitarian situation” there in a press release issued by the UN News Centre.

Recent reports say that IS has withdrawn from the camp, but YouTube videos and activists inside indicate otherwise.