Syria Direct: News Update 1-26-15


January 26, 2015

Regime pushes back Islamic State at Deir e-Zor airport

The regime launched a multi-directional attack on Islamic State forces stationed around the Deir e-Zor military airport Monday, pushing IS farther back from the military installation, reported pro-opposition news agency El-Dorar.

Regime soldiers mounted the attack against the farms to the east of the airport, the town of al-Jafra to the north and the international highway to the south, a local citizen journalist who goes by the alias Mohammed Hassan told Syria Direct Monday.

“The regime advanced considerably on the international highway front, with lighter advances on the other two,” he added.

Ten IS fighters reportedly died during the clashes, nine Syrians and one Tunisian.

In related news, IS has recently moved a number of fighters of Asian descent, many of whom specialize in sniping, from the Deir e-Zor airport front into Iraq, reported pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently on Sunday.

Rebels capture Liwa 82, Sheikh Miskeen

A collection of rebel groups led by Jabhat a-Nusra and other Islamist battalions captured the regime’s air-defense base Liwa 82 in Daraa province on Sunday, effectively seizing control of the strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen in the process, said official Jabhat a-Nusra’s Twitter account for Daraa.

Jabhat a-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army, represented by Feilaq al-Awwal and the Islamic Front, “took control of the base located north of the city, as well as the military headquarters and military residential area,” Locka al-Zoubi, a citizen journalist in Sheikh Miskeen, told Syria Direct on Monday.

The rebels also took a regime commander hostage, al-Zoubi added.

Liwa 82 is one of the largest air-defense bases in Syria, containing anti-aircraft missiles and heavy artillery. Videos and pictures released by rebel groups after their victory show fighters parading around the base with the newly captured weaponry.

Rebels killed more than 200 regime fighters in the battle, reported pro-opposition news channel Al-Aan TV.

State-affiliated news had not reported on the fighting as of publishing. 

Opposition and regime forces had been battling for Sheikh Miskeen for more than two months. By taking the city, rebels hope to cut off the regime supply road between Damascus and Daraa city, as well as advance on regime positions south of Damascus.

Kurds control “95 percent” of Kobani

Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG] are reportedly on the verge of completely controlling Kobani after a series of victories over the weekend, a Kurdish journalist in the border city told Syria Direct on Monday.

“Kurdish forces control 95 percent of Kobani,” said Mustafa Abdi.

The Islamic State “has only a limited presence in eastern Kobani.”

At one point last year, the Kurdish-majority city, which straddles the Turkish border, nearly fell into IS hands before repeated US-led coalition airstrikes began to push back the Islamic State.

The YPG announced on Monday that they had taken four streets in east Kobani and killed 31 IS fighters, according the official YPG Facebook page.

YPG fighters also captured the town of Mamid from IS fighters, located south of Kobani on Sunday, one day after taking the town of Termik, also south of Kobani, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The capture of the two towns marks the first time Kurdish fighters have managed to retake villages south of Kobani from IS fighters since the fighting began four months ago.

LiberationKobani Kurdish fighters celebrate in Kobani on Monday. Photo courtesy of People’s Protection Units.

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