2 min read  | Aleppo, Politics

Syria Direct: News Update 1-22-15


January 22, 2015

Fighters leave Islamic State after friends executed for ‘treason’

A group of Islamic State fighters in A-Raqqa defected from the jihadist group on Wednesday and on their way out freed a number of detainees from an IS prison in the provincial capital, reported the media campaign Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. 

The defectors, reportedly numbering between 10 and 15 people, consisted mostly of Saudi Arabian nationals, Ibrihim Abdulkader, a member of the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently campaign, told Syria Direct on Thursday.

A-Raqqa is the de facto IS capital in Syria.

The fighters went to the IS prison to release Jabhat a-Nusra fighters, also Saudi nationals, who they likely knew prior to joining their respective jihadist groups.

The defectors were also reportedly friends with two other Saudi IS fighters who had been accused of treason and executed earlier this week.

“The prisoners [that the defectors freed] included six members of Jabhat a-Nusra and a number of local civilians” who helped the defectors escape the area, added Abdulkader.

In response, IS appears to have imposed a curfew on the city of Raqqa Wednesday night, in addition to setting up a number of checkpoints in and around the city, according to the Facebook page of Abu Ibrahim Raqawwi, an activist in Raqqa who is a founding member of the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign.

In related news, the US-led coalition bombed IS checkpoints in northern and western Raqqa province on Wednesday, said the pro-opposition news agency Siraj Press.

Assassination attempts in Aleppo

An unknown party killed an al-Jabha a-Shamia fighter on Wednesday by detonating an explosive device planted in his car in the northern Aleppo countryside, reported pro-opposition Halab Today TV.

Another explosive device planted by unknown assailants destroyed the car of a Free Aleppo Police officer in the village of Batabo in the Western Aleppo countryside Wednesday, without wounding the target. Halab Today TV circulated pictures of the destroyed car on Facebook.

Also in Aleppo province Wednesday, regime aircraft killed six people in the rebel-controlled village of Tel Rafaat with thermobaric (vacuum) missiles, reported pro-opposition Halab News. The use of vacuum missiles could not be independently verified.

Human Rights Watch reports the effect of vacuum missiles “against living targets is unique and unpleasant…. What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which ruptures the lungs.” 

Tel Refat Aftermath of regime bombing in Tel Rafaat. Photo courtesy of Halab Today TV

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