Syria Direct: News Update 1-13-15


January 13, 2015

US-backed rebel group destroys regime warplane

Rebels from Harakat al-Hazm destroyed a regime warplane stationed in the Nayrab Military Airbase in Aleppo on Monday after targeting it with TOW anti-tank missiles, while rebels across the city pushed regime forces back on multiple fronts, said the pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center. 

The Nayrab Military Airbase, located east of Aleppo city, is the largest and most important airport in the province. Rebels, including the Western-backed Harakat al-Hazm, have tried to take the base before, but regime forces control the area surrounding it.

Harakat al-Hazm has previously received GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles from the US.

Elsewhere in Aleppo city, rebels reportedly killed more than 20 regime fighters in the contested northern Bustan al-Basha neighborhood, and also advanced in the Breij area near the regime-controlled Sheikh Najjar industrial city located in the northeast outskirts of Aleppo, according to pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher. 

Rebels have recently increased their activity in Aleppo, fearing that the regime will cut off the central opposition supply line into the city.

TowMissileHazzem Harakat Hazm reportedly using US TOW missiles to blow up regime warplane. Photo courtesy of @Mkkm9Mekhled.

Nusra threatens retaliation against Lebanon

Jabhat a-Nusra threatened direct retaliation against Lebanon Monday after Lebanese armed forces stormed the Rumia prison and arrested Islamist prisoners accused of directing Saturday’s twin suicide bombings on Jabal Muhsin.

“All Lebanese sects must endure the results and consequences of the Lebanese army’s rash actions,” tweeted Nusra’s Qalamoun Correspondent handle, adding, “Who will pay the price?”

Similarly, Qalamoun Correspondent tweeted a picture of Nusra members aiming their rifles at captured Lebanese army soldiers under the caption “Who will pay the price?”

Families of the captured soldiers blocked access to certain roads in Beirut Monday in protest over Nusra’s threats, reported pro-opposition Shaam News Network.

Lebanese Minister of the Interior Nahad al-Mashnuq said that Monday’s operation targeted building ‘B’ in Rumia prison, from which a large part of the operation in Jabal Muhsin was directed, in press conference remarks reported by Lebanese daily Assafir.

“Those who undertook the operation in Jabal Muhsin, according to our information, were from ISIS,” Al-Mashnuq said, contradicting Jabhat a-Nusra’s announcement that they had carried out the twin suicide bombings.

Conflicting reports on Nusra retreat from Beit Sahm

A Jabhat a-Nusra commander announced the group’s withdrawal from the village of Beit Sahm in Damascus’ West Ghouta suburbs following a rise in tensions between residents and the al-Qaida affiliate, reported pro-Assad Syrian daily Al-Watan on Monday.

Beit Sahm residents organized protests in late December demanding Nusra’s withdrawal after what residents termed Nusra “excesses” against civilians, including arrests for “insulting God,” reported pro-opposition South Damascus Media Center .

A citizen journalist in Beit Sahm who goes by Kareem a-Shami told Syria Direct that before Nusra left, “the village of Beit Sahm is witnessing extraordinary tension in light of Nusra’s lack of withdrawal.”

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