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Syria Direct: News Update 11-4-14

Nusra works with SRF in Daraa Opposition forces captured a […]

4 November 2014

Nusra works with SRF in Daraa

Opposition forces captured a neighborhood in the eastern part of the regime-controlled town of Sheikh Miskeen in Daraa province Tuesday, escalating their effort to cut off the supply line between Daraa city and Damascus, reported pro-opposition news agency Orient News.

The regime responded to the offensive by launching six airstrikes against the rebels east of the city, the Local Coordination Committees reported.

Jabhat a-Nusra, Islamist battalions and local fighters are leading the attack on Sheikh Miskeen, reported the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Tuesday.

The coordination between Jabhat a-Nusra and local fighters in Daraa highlights the varying relationships Nusra has with moderate rebels and local communities across different provinces. In Idlib over the weekend, for example, Nusra drove the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries Front out of the province after days of deadly fighting.

“Though unclaimed officially, SRF and Jabhat a-Nusra appear to be playing lead roles [together] in today’s offensive in Sheikh Miskeen,” said Brookings weapons specialist Charles Lister on Monday.

ShiekhMaskien SRF and Nusra fighters gather in Daraa on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of @thamer5690.

Islamic State releases more Kobani captives

The Islamic State (IS) released Monday roughly 100 Kurdish prisoners who were captured in February on their way to Iraqi Kurdistan and held on charges of belonging to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), reported the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

The move follows IS’s release of 25 Kurdish children last Wednesday, the last of a group of 150 students that IS captured in May near the Aleppo city of Manbij. It is not clear why the prisoners are being freed.

The children were subjected to torture while in captivity, including beatings with hoses and electric cables, and were forced to attend religious lessons, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch. IS fighters gave the children 150 Syrian pounds ($1) and a religious DVD upon their release.

In related news, the Islamic State (IS) controls roughly 60 percent of the city of Kobani, Abdul Jabar al-Akidi, the commander of FSA in Kobani, said in an interview uploaded to YouTube Monday.

A total of 320 FSA soldiers are currently fighting side by side with Kurdish forces in Kobani, al-Akidi added.

Egyptian Islamist group denies pledging allegiance to IS

The Egyptian militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis on Tuesday denied media reports that it had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a move that would have stretched IS’s influence into a new country, according to its official Twitter account.

The reports, published by outlets such as Reuters, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and Haaretz, cited a statement circulating on social media in which the Islamist group said it “decided to swear allegiance to…the Caliph of Muslims in Syria and Iraq.”

Previous statements written in the name of the group have also been falsified.

Beit al-Maqdis has been operating in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula since 2011 after the Egyptian Revolution, attacking and kidnapping security officials and tourists in the area.

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