Syria Direct: News update 12-16-14


December 16, 2014

Syrian army gone from Wadi Deif

Regime forces fleeing from the Wadi Deif and Hamidiya military bases in southern Idlib province reportedly arrived at the regime-controlled town of Morek in northern Hama province Tuesday, according to a government source quoted by the pro-opposition news agency Aksalser.

The retreat comes in the wake of a combined rebel attack led by Jabhat a-Nusra and Ahrar a-Sham resulting in the capture of the two bases on Monday.

The Wadi Deif military base was one of the largest regime strongholds in Syria and sits on the strategic M5 Damascus-Aleppo highway. Rebels have attempted to take it for more than a year and a half.

The regime responded to the loss by launching at least 42 airstrikes in Wadi Deif and the surrounding areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Regime forces withdrew from Wadi Deif in the direction of Hamidiya where they battled 2,500 Nusra fighers, reported regime-affiliated newspaper Al-Watan on Tuesday.

Nusra and the opposition now control all of southern Idlib province.

IS allows more Shaitat back to Deir e-Zor

The Islamic State allowed members of the Shaitat tribe to return to the town of al-Kishkiya in Deir e-Zor province Tuesday, the latest in a series of repatriations for the tribe under IS rule, reported the pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor Under Fire. 

“The [Shaitat] were required to pay a Kalashnikov rifle and four cartridges of bullets for each house [the people returned to], in addition to handing over anyone from the village that was wanted by IS,” an activist from east Deir e-Zor, who goes by the name Nayef, told Syria Direct Tuesday.

IS killed at least 700 members of the Shaitat tribe following their resistance to the militant Islamist group’s takeover of the province in July. Many of the tribe’s members were forced to flee afterwards.

“No one knows the fate of those who were handed over [to IS], but there are pledges to hold them accountable,” Nayef added. 

Al-Kiskiya is located in southeast Deir e-Zor province along the Euphrates River. IS controls over most of the east, oil-rich province that borders Iraq, except for the regime military base near the eponymous provincial capital.

ShaitatISMoving1
 
Shaitat members return to Deir e-Zor Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Deir e-Zor Under Fire.

Darayya rebels call on double agents to ‘repent’

The rebel General Security Center of Darayya issued a “call for repentance” on Monday, requesting regime agents in the city turn themselves in and repent in order to avoid punishment, according to a copy of the announcement posted Tuesday to the Local Council of Darayya’s Facebook page.

“A call to our brothers, to those who got involved in dealing with the criminal regime, to repent and return to the correct path,” reads the announcement, adding that the repentant will be spared from punishment.

“Their files will remain secret, kept in the general security administration [building], to provide them an opportunity to return to their normal lives.”

The Security Center in Darayya, an organization recognized by all rebel brigades in the area and tasked with carrying out rebel judiciary rulings, executed Fuad al-Laham December 1 on the charge of collaborating with the regime, reported pro-opposition Aksalser.

Al-Laham was not the first suspected regime agent to be executed by the Security Center, reported pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds.

Repeated regime assaults on Darayya, located near the regime-controlled Mezze military airport and one of the last opposition-controlled areas in the southern Damascus area, have left the city in a state of near-total destruction.

Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk, Nusra sign truce

The rebel Court of Justice in Daraa issued an announcement Monday confirming that Jabhat a-Nusra and the Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk reached a truce following a recent series of mutual kidnappings and firefights in Daraa province, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.

Thirteen of the largest opposition brigades in the Houran region, located in southwest Syria, signed on to the agreement.

The truce stipulates an immediate cessation of hostilities and the handing over of prisoners on both sides.

On Monday, protestors took to the streets in the city of Sahm al-Jolan in Daraa province to demand an end to the fighting between Nusra and Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk, according to Syrian-Reporter, a network of opposition activists.

Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk began fighting with Jabhat a-Nusra in Daraa province amidst news that the former had pledged allegiance to IS.

On Sunday, the two sides engaged in a firefight in the town of Sahm al-Jolan in Daraa province, after Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk reportedly captured Nusra fighters at an unspecified earlier date, reported the Syrian observatory for Human Rights.

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