YPG drives Islamic State from east Tel Abyad

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces regained control of a neighborhood in east Tel Abyad early Wednesday, hours after a group of Islamic State (IS) fighters seized the area the night before.

“Between 20 and 40 individuals from IS cells” were driven out of the Mashour Fouqani neighborhood in the eastern outskirts of Tel Abyad by YPG forces on Wednesday, Hamou al-Mousa, an activist with the media campaign Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently told Syria Direct on Wednesday. Tel Abyad is located in the north of A-Raqqa province, just south of the border with Turkey.

Intense fighting the night before had forced YPG forces to withdraw from their positions in the east of the city, al-Mousa said, as civilian residents fled to the nearby border with Turkey.

Protests by residents in the neighborhood against the Asayish (Kurdish police loyal to the PYD) in the city facilitated the Islamic State attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedon Wednesday, adding that it was not immediately clear whether IS elements remained in the area or had fled.

Official YPG social media confirmed the clashes late on Tuesday but made no mention of local protests, saying that three members of IS and one YPG fighter had been killed in the fighting.

Combined Free Syrian Army and YPG forces retook Tel Abyad from IS last month as part of a broader offensive to drive IS from A-Raqqa province with the support of international coalition forces.

Also on Wednesday, RBSS activist Furat al-Wafa denied reports that IS had retaken the town of Ain Issa 45 km to the north of A-Raqqa city from rebels, telling Syria Direct on Wednesday that  “were IS able to advance in these areas, social media sites would flood with pictures and videos” documenting the event.

 Civilians at the border with Turkey after fleeing Tel Abyad clashes. Photo courtesy of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

Regime barrel bombs fall as Aleppans break fast

As the maghreb call to prayer signaled sunset, when Muslims observing Ramadan may break their dawn-to-dusk fast, helicopter-borne barrel bombs struck a rebel-held Aleppo neighborhood, killing 15 worshippers in what is reportedly the regime’s most recent air raid deliberately targeting civilians observing Ramadan, reported Aleppo-based news networks and journalists.

The barrel bombs hit the south-central Aleppo neighborhood of Salheen, a mostly residential and commercial district home to apartment blocks, small mobile phone and fuel shops “exactly three minutes after the evening call to prayer,” Shamil Al-Ahmad, a photographer with the pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center told Syria Direct on Wednesday.

“We ran to the impact site, where three stores and six cars were burning, completely destroyed, and seven martyrs lay dead.”

The regime is targeting civilians “just after the evening call to prayer, when the streets are the most crowded with people breaking the day’s fast,” he added. 

A Syrian regime helicopter dropped a barrel bomb on the Saad al-Ansari mosque in a village west of Aleppo city last Monday, killing 15 worshipers and injuring 20 others on Monday.

Syria Direct reported at the time that worshippers had just broken the Ramadan fast and had begun the evening prayer.

On Tuesday, hospitals in Aleppo asked civilians to donate blood to air-strike victims, reported pro-opposition Halab Today on Facebook, as the death toll rose to at least 15 people, wrote the Aleppo Media Center on the same day.