Rebels form yet another alliance, this time in Deir e-Zor
February 26, 2014
JOINING UP: Eleven Free Syrian Army-affiliated opposition brigades in the eastern Syria provinces of Deir e-Zor, a-Raqqa and al-Hassakeh announced the formation of Jaish al-Haq Tuesday.
The new, eastern formation follows a wave of unification announcements across Syria. Jaish al-Mujahideen, formed by moderate groups in Idlib and Aleppo province in late December, announced it would fight alongside Jabhat a-Nusra and the Islamic Front in the city of Aleppo this week. In southern Syria, what were once localized battalions have announced a slew of new formations, including Tajamu’a al-Yarmouk in Daraa province.
Most of Deir e-Zor and a-Raqqa provinces and much of al-Hasakeh province remain in rebel control after government troops withdrew from positions in late 2012 to concentrate forces in the more densely populated north and west. Rebels have continued to target remaining regime military installations, including the Liwa 17 military base and Tabaqa Military Airport in a-Raqqa province, as well as the Deir e-Zor Military Airport.
As the formation was announced Tuesday, rebels targeted the Deir e-Zor military airport, encircled by rebel troops since early December 2012.
Meanwhile, regime artillery continued to target neighborhoods in Deir e-Zor with artillery fire and shelling Wednesday from the airport, the pro-opposition LCC Union reported.
Pro-government newspaper al-WatanreportedTuesday that Syrian army units had gained control of the hills near the Deir e-Zor village of al-Murabia’a and the areas near Mahata a-Rifa’, seizing the areas from “terrorists.”
Rebel efforts in eastern Syria also contend with extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS), where ISIS is in open conflict with other rebel groups.
Syria Mubashir reported that a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham had blown himself upin the home of Sheikh Diab, a well-known moderate leader in Deir e-Zor, pro-opposition Syria Mubasher reported. Sheik Diab and all of his family members were injured.
Oil reserves in Deir e-Zor province are a prize for any rebel group: ISIS’ rift with Jabhat a-Nusra partially stems from a struggle to control of the province’s lucrative oil wells.