Syria Direct: News Update 6-1-15

Islamic State 5km from Al-Hasakah city

Islamic State forces captured the al-Ahdath prison from Syrian regime forces less than 5km south of Al-Hasakah’s city center on Monday.
 
“IS control of al-Ahdath prison means that they are on the heights overlooking the city, with only 5km separating them from the provincial capital,” Siraj a-Din al-Hasakawi, a journalist specializing in human rights violations, told Syria Direct on Monday.
 
The Syrian National Defense Forces announced on their Facebook page that their fighters had retaken the prison early Monday, however no other regime media outlets have reported on events involving the prison.
 
The capture of the prison comes as IS forces advance on regime-held parts of al-Hasakah city’s surrounding countryside in an assault they launched Friday to pave the way for a storming of the city itself, reported pro-IS Amaq News Agency on Saturday.
 
Al-Hasakah is a split city, with parts under YPG control and others under regime control. 

Rebels seek to reverse Islamic State Aleppo gains

A coalition of rebel brigades sent a large column of reinforcements, including approximately 2,000 fighters, as well as tanks and heavy artillery to the northern Aleppo countryside on Monday to reverse gains the Islamic State made over the weekend, reported the opposition al-Etihad Press.
 
The reinforcements come after IS captured several villages in the rebel-controlled corridor that connects their positions in Aleppo city to the Turkish border. 
 
Sunday’s capture of one village, Sarwan, puts IS within 15 kilometers of the city of Azaz and the adjacent rebel-controlled Bab al-Salama border crossing. 
 
In a related context, accusations that IS forces were taking female relatives of rebel fighters in Sarwan as slaves circulated on Sunday in opposition news outlets and on social media, although a spokesperson from a local rebel brigade told Syria Direct on Monday that those reports were until now “unconfirmed.”

 Rebel reinforcements en route to northern Aleppo countryside. Photo courtesy of Eldorar.

FSA and YPG march on Tel Abyad, wresting villages from Islamic State

Units from the Free Syrian Army [FSA] and the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG] captured eight villages in northern A-Raqqa province from the Islamic State [IS] over the weekend, putting the joint Arab-Kurdish force 20km south of the prized border town of Tel Abyad, reported the Kurdish news agency ARA News on Sunday.
 
“Fighting is still going on since Sunday at the cross-roads town of Suluk, 19km southeast of Tel Abyad,” Abu Ward A-Raqawi, a journalist with A-Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, told Syria Direct on Monday.
 
“But the families of non-Syrian IS fighters have already started fleeing to A-Raqqa,” he added.
 
Tel Abyad is a way station for fighters, guns, food and medicine entering Syria from Turkey and has been under IS control since last summer.