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Syria Direct: News Update 11-5-14

Kurdish reinforcements fight as IS controls ‘60%’ of Kobani Kurdish […]

5 November 2014

Kurdish reinforcements fight as IS controls ‘60%’ of Kobani

Kurdish forces have realized “noticeable progress” on Kobani’s western front against Islamic State (IS) fighters as a result of the arrival of Peshmerga reinforcements and heavy weapons to the city last week, Al Arabiya reported Wednesday.

The Islamic State 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 earlier this week.

As of publishing, Kurdish People’s Protection Units forces, supported by the Peshmerga and FSA fighters, are battling IS combatants on the northern and western fronts of the city, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The SOHR did not mention which side, if any, was making progress on those fronts.

Anwar Muslim, the head of the Syrian Kurdish Kobani canton that declared its autonomy in January, called for additional military aid to the city in remarks made Wednesday at the Middle East Research Institute conference in Erbil, reported Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

SNHR: ‘Systematic policy’ targeting medical workers

The Assad regime reportedly killed 20 medics in October, including two under torture, according to a report released Wednesday by the monitoring group Syrian Network for Human Rights, which described the attacks as part of a “systematic policy” targeting medical workers.

The SNHR, which is against the Assad regime, collects its information using a combination of interviews, video and photo analysis and medical records. It is one of the few organizations that still attempts to gather casualty statistics in Syria.

October’s death count raised the total number of medical workers killed by the regime to 420 since the beginning of the conflict, the report added.

“We condemn this crime and consider any targeting of doctors and staff of humanitarian agencies an act of terrorism,” said the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in reference to the report on Wednesday.

al-NuaimaMedics push an ambulance in Daraa on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of The Syrian Revolution 2011.

Jolani threatens Lebanon: ‘Real battle’ has not yet begun

Jabhat a-Nusra chief Abu Mohammed al-Jolani warned of upcoming attacks in Lebanon and threatened Hezbollah forces in the Qalamoun mountains in a voice recording circulated widely on social media websites Tuesday.

“The true battle in Lebanon has not yet begun,” Jolani said, adding that “our brothers in Qalamoun are hiding surprises for Hezbollah…what’s coming will be worse.”

Nusra participated with other Syrian rebel battalions, including the Islamic State (IS), in a battle against Lebanese security forces for the border town of Arsal in August, and has conducted a series of suicide bombings in Beirut centered in areas of Hezbollah influence.

In related news, Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Hezbollah will continue fighting in Syria “until the final victory” in a speech made before crowds celebrating Ashura Tuesday in a-Dahieh, reported Hezbollah’s official news network Al-Manar.

Nasrallah called the prospect of withdrawing from Syria a “dream,” and stressed that “the situation in Qalamoun is great.”

Regime attempts to allay energy concerns

Syria announced Tuesday that it had imported 3,500 tons of gas – the equivalent of 350,000 gas cylinders – amidst an energy crisis throughout the country, reported pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan.

“There is no concern or fear for a possible shortage,” an official told Al-Watan.

The government is currently producing 23,000 cylinders per day.

On Tuesday Islamic State forces reportedly fought off a regime attempt to retake the gas fields near the historic ruins of Palmyra in east Homs province that IS has captured over the past week, said pro-opposition news agency Orient News.

In the last month, the Syrian government has both raised the price of diesel and announced that 32 of its 54 electric turbines are offline due to a lack of fuel, despite being ready to run.

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