Rebels target barrel-bomb production site
Islamic Front faction Ahrar a-Sham captured five regime-controlled villages Wednesday in the southern outskirts of Aleppo, with their next target a barrel-bomb production center, reported the pro-opposition news network Syria Mubasher.
The fighters say they are aiming to capture the Defense Factories’ barracks, which also serve as the launching pad for regime air raids in Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama provinces.
As of publishing, Ahrar a-Sham is battling regime forces for control of Al-Adnaniya, a village that is considered the gateway into the Defense Factories’ barracks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Ahrar a-Sham announced the beginning of the “Free Fighters’ Roar” battle in a video widely circulated on YouTube and social media websites on Tuesday. The goal is to capture and disable the barracks to “avenge the blood of innocent martyrs, exalt the word of God, and bring victory to the Muslim people of Syria.”
Daraa fighting intensifies
The Syrian army bombed rebel forces attacking the government-controlled section of Daraa city Wednesday, one day after a coalition of opposition groups announced a new campaign to take control of the provincial capital, reported pro-opposition news agency Nabaa Media.
“The importance of the [government-controlled part] of Daraa for the rebels is that it allows them to pressure the regime’s main security center in the area and prevent the daily bombing against rebel-controlled parts of the city,” Ahmed Mesalama, a citizen-journalist, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
Most of the fighting took place on the road to the Daraa dam, which bifurcates the city, Mesalama said.
The capital of Daraa province is split into two main parts: the rebel-controlled residential southern half and the regime-controlled northern half which holds the city’s administrative and military headquarters.
The fighting takes place in the wake of a rebel alliance in Daraa between Islamic battalions and FSA-affiliated brigades announced on Tuesday, said the pro-opposition news agency Daraa and Hawran News.
Kurds stave off Islamic State in Kobani
The Islamic State has reportedly pulled out a number of its fighters from neighborhoods within Kobani as a result of the coalition airstrikes, Radwan Birzeh, a Kurdish journalist on the Turkish-Syrian border, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
“IS fighters withdrew; a small number stayed behind so they wouldn’t lose their positions,” Birzeh said.
Coalition forces “are bombing heavy equipment that they are using on edges of Kobani,” he added.
Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces reportedly killed 35 Islamic State (IS) fighters Tuesday night in south Kobani, in Aleppo province close to the Turkish border, while three dozen Kurdish special forces soldiers arrived to the city the same day, reported Kurdish Hawar News Agency.
Also on Tuesday, US-led coalition warplanes carried out five airstrikes in the vicinity of Kobani, destroying four armed vehicles, anti-aircraft weaponry and a tank, with no casualty count available, according to a Pentagon statement.
The IS intensified its siege of Kobani on September 16, summoning reinforcements and heavy equipment from areas across northern and eastern Syria.
A total of 400 casualties have been documented among civilians, Kurdish and IS forces as a result of fighting, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Tuesday, although “the true number is probably twice that.”
Syria ‘failed to disclose’ chemical sites
Syria has four chemical weapons sites that it has not declared, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, said on her Twitter account on Tuesday.
“UN’s Sigrid Kaag [the head of the joint UN-OPCW mission tasked to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons] said four facilities [were] identified that the regime failed to declare,” Power tweeted.
Kaag’s report, presented to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, comes on the heels of the completion of the UN-OPCW Syria mission last week.
Official Syrian state media has yet not commented.
“The work of the Joint Mission has been vital to the success of international efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program,” said Ahmet Uzumcu, the OPCW Director-General, in a statement last week.
The OPCW will continue to “clarif[y] certain aspects of the initial Syrian declaration,” the organization said in the statement, perhaps referring to the newly discovered chemical facilities.
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