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Syria Direct: News Update 12-11-14

Regime fires on Ein al-Fijeh The regime launched mortar shells […]

11 December 2014

Regime fires on Ein al-Fijeh

The regime launched mortar shells into the rebel-controlled village of Ein al-Fijeh Thursday in an apparent violation of a truce signed in late November, reported the Wadi Barada Villages local Coordination Committee (LCC).

Ein al-Fijeh is home to a water spring servicing five million people in Damascus and its suburbs.

Regime soldiers targeted the outskirts of the village, located 15km northwest of Damascus in the Wadi Barada area, with 30 57mm shells the LCC reported.

The Greater Damascus LCC reported that a total of 40 shells were fired, adding that civilians were wounded in the attack.

The artillery barrage violates a truce signed November 25, which stipulated the end of a nearly week-long regime assault on Wadi Barada in return for rebels re-opening water lines into Damascus and its suburbs that they had temporarily cut off.

“Will the regime hold the person responsible [for launching the mortars] to account, to avoid destroying Damascus’ water supply?” asked the Greater Damascus LCC.

Anti-IS rebel front sends reinforcements to Bir al-Qasb

A coalition of rebel groups sent reinforcements Wednesday to Bir al-Qasb to combat the now-confirmed Islamic State (IS) presence in the area on the Outer Damascus-Suwayda border in southern Syria.

“The Jaish Usud a-Sharqia is sending reinforcements to Bir al-Qasb to destroy the remnants of the Dissenters [IS],” wrote the group on its Facebook page Wednesday, captioning a photo of their fighters.

IS-affiliated news outlets published photos on Tuesday confirming the Islamic State’s capture of parts of Bir al-Qasab that is administratively part of Outer Damascus province.

Bir al-Qasb is considered the gateway into Daraa province, wrote Al-Monitor’s Abdullah Suleiman Ali Tuesday, adding that “it is no longer a secret that IS intends to enter Daraa.”

The rebel coalition that sent reinforcements to Bir al-Qasb, Jaish Usud a-Sharqia [Army of the Lions of the East], was founded in early August by several rebel brigades who relocated to the Qalamoun region after being ousted from Deir e-Zor province by the Islamic State, reported Al-Arabiya August 5.

The group openly declared its hostility towards IS in its founding statement that circulated on YouTube August 4.

AssudAl-SarqyiaJaish Usud a-Sharqiya arrives in Bir al-Qasb Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Jaish Usud a-Sharqia.

Assad receives verbal message of support from Putin

Russian president Vladimir Putin renewed his pledge of support to Bashar Assad on Wednesday by way of a Russian special delegation visiting Damascus, reported regime-affiliated newspaper Al-Watan.  

“Moscow supports the Syrian government’s efforts to prioritize national interests as essential steps in the road to a solution,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in a statement released by the delegation.

Russia has been one of the Syrian government’s staunchest supporters throughout the conflict.

“Russia has always stood by the Syrian people, and demonstrated that it supports the right of people to self-determination and respect for the sovereignty of nations and international law,” Assad said in a statement.

The Russian delegation’s trip to Damascus comes after its visit to Turkey where it met with representatives with the Syrian National Coalition, according to the London-based news agency Al-Araby.

Nearly 2500 regime airstrikes in 50 days

The regime reportedly conducted more than 2,400 airstrikes in Syria over the last 50 days, resulting in 603 civilian deaths, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The regime has increased its airstrikes since the US-led international coalition began its aerial campaign against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups in Syria in late September.

Activists say that by bombing IS, the coalition has freed up the regime to focus on opposition forces elsewhere in the country.

The casualties included 241 women and children, while an additional 2,400 were wounded, the SOHR noted.

“Of course, when you have war and terrorism, innocent people die,” Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with the magazine Paris Match on November 28.

“But it is impossible that a state target civilians.”

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