Syria Direct: News Update 5-14-15

IS moves on Deir e-Zor military airport

Islamic State forces closed in on the regime’s last major military base in Deir e-Zor on Thursday following their capture of the nearby Saqer Island earlier this week, reported the opposition media website Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently.

The advance comes after two other IS attacks on Wednesday from Saqer Island, previously a buffer ground between the military airport and IS territory, on the Harabish neighborhood of Deir e-Zor city and a regime missile instillation, both located directly south of the island.

Opposition news sources report that IS employed a car rigged with explosives in both attacks. 

IS forces previously launched an attack on the military airport at the end of 2014, but were forced to retreat from their positions around the airport.

Regime clings to Jisr a-Shughour hospital

Rebels recaptured Thursday a village near Jisr a-Shughour that overlooks the National Hospital, the regime’s last stronghold in the strategic town, an Ahrar a-Sham spokesman told Syria Direct Thursday.

Regime forces had taken the village in its entirety on Wednesday, Ali al-Hafawi, a spokesman for Ahrar a-Sham, told Syria Direct Thursday. The regime “is trying to capture the village to show, through the media, that is has approached the hospital to raise supporters' morale.”

In a further development around the National Hospital, state news agency SANA reported that Syrian army soldiers “destroyed a large vehicle laden with big quantities of explosives before it reached the hospital wall.”

Ali al-Hafawi confirmed that account.

Highest peak in Qalamoun mountains now in regime-Hezbollah hands

Hezbollah and regime forces captured the highest peak in the Qalamoun mountains, just one kilometer away from the Lebanese border, from Jabhat a-Nusra on Wednesday after two days of heavy fighting, reported the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Controlling [Tallit Mousa]opens the way for the resistance [Hezbollah] and the Syrian army to advance north to the primary crossing route in and out of Lebanon used by terrorists,” Lebanese military expert Walid Sakriya told the Hezbollah media outlet Al-Manar on Wednesday, referring to rebels’ cross-border smuggling. 

Rebel forces retreated to the hills around the nearby town of Ras al-Maara after Hezbollah, reinforced by regime forces, bombarded Tallit Mousa with rockets, reported the pro-opposition Smart News Agency.

Last week, the rebel coalition Qalamoun Victory Army announced a “tactical withdrawal” from the mountains south of Tallit Mousa in order to block Hezbollah advances and bleed its forces out. 

Regime and Hezbollah forces capture Nusra outpost in Qalamoun. Photo courtesy of Syria al-Watan News.