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Syria Direct: News update 1-27-15

IS religious police commander defects An Islamic State leader has […]

27 January 2015

IS religious police commander defects

An Islamic State leader has fled the jihadist organization in A-Raqqa, the latest in a series of defections from the group and subsequent “internal cleansings.”

“There have been a number of defections from [IS] lately,” Abu Ibrihim, a member of the media campaign Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The IS leader, a Kuwaiti national, headed the IS religious police, known as the al-Hisbeh, in A-Raqqa, according to the pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher.  

“The reasons for the defections vary from escaping with money or avoiding internal cleansing [IS killing its own members],” Abu Ibrahim said.

The latest defection follows the murders of four IS members in A-Raqqa city on Monday, reported Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

“The IS fighters were killed as part of the organization’s own internal cleansing, and the bodies were found in their homes full of bullets,” said Ibrihim.

“This has been happening a lot recently.” 

In related news, an IS leader of Egyptian nationality in Deir e-Zor reportedly stole SP250 million [$1.37 million] and fled to Turkey, according to a pro-opposition activist in Deir e-Zor.

The robbery and defection could not be independently confirmed.

Jaish al-Islam fires on Latakia, again

Jaish al-Islam (JAI) launched a barrage of rockets on villages across the Latakia countryside and the outskirts of Latakia city Tuesday, killing three and wounding four others, reported the state-owned General Organization of Radio and TV.

JAI posted pictures to Twitter Tuesday reportedly showing its fighters preparing and launching rockets at Latakia city.

This, while the rebel group fired at least two missiles from the Latakia countryside on Latakia city on Monday, killing three and wounding eight, reported pro-regime Latakia News Network.

JAI launched its first barrage on Latakia Sunday, coinciding with its missile assault on Damascus city. But the missiles missed their intended targets, killing two civilians and wounding seven, local sources told UK-based al-Arabi al-Jadeed.

A soldier with the JAI Artillery and Missiles Battalion announced in a video statement that Sunday’s attack was to target “security and shabiha headquarters” in Latakia, “except that they missed and hit civilian targets and poor neighborhoods instead,” Saleem al-Amr, a journalist from the northern Latakia countryside, told Syria Direct Monday.

MissilesOnLatakia Jaish al-Islam launches rockets at Latakia on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of @abd_alrahman85.

After Kobani loss, IS finds its next target

IS fighters retreating from their loss of the Kurdish city of Kobani reportedly launched an attack against rebel positions south of the opposition-controlled city of Marea in northern Aleppo province on Monday, reported pro-opposition news agency Halab News.

Marea is a rebel stronghold north of Aleppo city controlled by a collection of Islamic battalions.

By taking Marea, IS would open up the possibility of moving north to capture the nearby Bab a-Salama border crossing with Turkey.

The attack comes in the wake of YPG’s announcement that it had completely freed the city of Kobani from IS control on Monday, where Kurdish and IS forces had been battling for over four months.

Bab al-Hawa closed following Turkish-rebel row

The Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Idlib province remained closed on Tuesday following an armed confrontation Monday between the Turkish Gendarmes and rebel Jaish al-Mujahidin.

The border post will remain closed for two more days, Ahmed Bakur, a civilian waiting there to enter Turkey, told Syria Direct Tuesday, relaying information that Turkish officials told travelers.

A member of Jaish al-Mujahideen saw a Turkish soldier harassing his sister Monday, at which point he took a gun from one of his companions and opened fire on the Turkish soldier, reported Emirates-based Eremnews.

Turkish forces responded with gunfire; a Turkish soldier was wounded, and the Syrian rebel and his sister returned to Syria unhurt.

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