Syria Direct: news Update 11-17-14


November 17, 2014

Majority of casualties in Kobani from IS, says SOHR

The Islamic State reportedly attacked Syrian opposition and Kurdish YPG forces west of the embattled Kurdish city of Kobani on Sunday night, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday, adding to the 1,153 deaths the monitoring group has recorded since the fight for the city began in late September.

Of the 1,153 casualties SOHR has counted, 712 were IS fighters–23 of whom were killed in suicide attacks on the city–and 397 were YPG fighters. SOHR also recorded the deaths of 27 citizens and 17 “fighters supporting the YPG,” presumably FSA-affiliated battalions in the northern Aleppo province city.

The arrival of Iraqi Peshmerga forces and heavy weaponry from Iraq at the end of October along with coalition airstrikes on Kobani have not decisively pushed the battle in favor of the Kurds. Fighting in the city appears to be at a stalemate.

“Our units carried out an operation yesterday against a number of points occupied by IS…on the eastern battlefront, and fighting continued through the day,” a YPD spokesperson told Kurdish news agency Aranews on Sunday.

Ahrar a-Sham battalion attacks Jaish al-Islam on Turkish border

Fighters with Ahrar a-Sham raided the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in northern Idlib Sunday, forcing the Jaish al-Islam fighters who controlled it to abandon their posts, reported pro-opposition Smart News Agency.

Both Ahrar a-Sham and Jaish al-Islam belong to the Islamic Front. Ahrar a-Sham fighters who conducted the raid appeared to do so without the authorization of the militia’s leadership.

“Ahrar a-Sham leadership didn’t know that the group [of fighters] was attacking, therefore, they didn’t prevent them from acting,” a citizen journalist located near Bab al-Hawa who participated in subsequent mediation efforts told Syria Direct.

“Jaish al-Islam fighters acted wisely; they left the headquarters without firing a shot to prevent a firefight,” the journalist added, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.

The media office of Ahrar a-Sham’s political wing said in a press release Sunday that “the disagreement that occurred in Bab al-Hawa was merely a secondary disagreement between brothers—the leadership of both parties condemned the [incident].”

Bab al-Hawa is an entry point for weapons and ammunition to rebel forces across Syria, and a source of revenue for rebel groups via duties imposed on commerce passing through the Syria-Turkey crossing.

Barzeh denies ICRC aid delivery

The Local Coordination Committee in Barzeh denied reports that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is distributing aid supplies to the neighborhood in a statement released by the Barzeh LCC Sunday.

The SARC wrote in a post on the group’s official Facebook page on Friday that “ICRC President Peter Maurer and SARC President Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar visited a newly built SARC warehouse in Barzeh,” slated to provide food and emergency assistance for 50,000 people.

Barzeh’s LCC responded in its announcement that the photos were actually taken in the pro-regime Alawite-majority area of Aish al-Warwar, adding that the ICRC and SARC had established an aid distribution center, medical center and shelter there.

“We affirm that the Red Cross and Crescent committee did not enter Barzeh, and no one appearing in the pictures are Barzeh residents.”

Barzeh22 ICRC president Peter Maurer and SARC president Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar deliver aid in Damascus. Opposition groups dispute the location of the delivery. Photo courtesy of ICRC/IbrahimMalla.

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