3 min read  | Homs, Idlib, Politics, Reef Dimashq, Suwayda

Syria Direct: News Update 2-10-15


February 10, 2015

Islamic State executes member of Jaish al-Islam

The Islamic State released a video Monday reportedly showing the execution of a member of Jaish al-Islam accused of fighting IS in the Bir al-Qasb area on the Outer Damascus-Suwayda border in southern Syria.

“The young man who appeared in the video is an emergency worker who would transport Jaish al-Islam’s (JAI) wounded on the desert roads,” a spokesman for JAI told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The man in the video confessed to taking orders from JAI head Zahran Aloush to fight IS members in the area.

IS-affiliated media published photos in December confirming the Islamic State’s capture of parts of Bir al-Qasab, which is administratively part of Outer Damascus province. Jaish al-Islam drove IS from the area in December.

Bir al-Qasb is considered the gateway into Daraa province, wrote Al-Monitor’s Abdullah Suleiman Ali December 10, adding that “it is no longer a secret that IS intends to enter Daraa.”

Syrian army active around Shaar gas fields

Regime forces claimed to have won control of the countryside west of the Shaar gas field in eastern Homs on Monday, but in reality targeted oil smugglers in the area, a media activist in northern Homs told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

“The regime undertook the military operation against oil smugglers, not a military organization,” said the media activist, who asked to remain anonymous.

The skirmishes between regime forces and the “apostate organizations” led to the deaths of a number of the smugglers, according to pro-regime Al-Hadath News.

In related news, three regime soldiers were killed in an ambush set by Islamic State forces near the Shaar gas fields on Monday, said the pro-opposition Homs Media Center.

While the regime controls the fields and fuel production sites in Shaar, IS has a strong presence in the countryside. IS has repeatedly attacked the regime-controlled fuel production sites over the past six months.

Massive displacement in eastern Aleppo countryside

Islamic State-controlled villages in the eastern Aleppo countryside have witnessed heavy displacement over the past few days as Kurdish forces advance after expelling the Islamic State from Kobani, reported pro-opposition All4Syria Monday.

IS has allowed women and children under 15 to leave the villages, reported pro-opposition el-Dorar al-Shamia Tuesday, while forcing young men to remain behind to defend against the Kurdish forces.

An estimated 50,000 people have fled the eastern Aleppo villages, according to All4Syria. Many families left behind their livestock and possessions, fearing revenge from Kurdish forces against those living under IS control.

Ahmed Aloush Uthman, leader of the FSA-affiliated Liwa Thuwar A-Raqqa brigade allied with the Kurds, told All4Syria that his group will enter the Arab villages in Kobani’s countryside, not Kurdish forces.

In related news, IS has recently withdrawn a large number of fighters and equipment from areas northeast of Aleppo city, considered the western edge of the territory under their control, reported Iraq-based al-Hadath News Monday.

Rebels begin stranglehold of Shiite town

Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar a-Sham cut off the supply road between the Shiite town of Fuwaa and regime-controlled Idlib city on Monday after they announced a military campaign to “liberate” the town from pro-regime forces, reported the pro-opposition Sham News Network.

The rebel groups captured the town of Deir a-Zaghb, southwest of Fuwaa on the road to Idlib, after pummeling it with mortars and destroying five buildings, said the pro-opposition Edlib News Network.

The attack against Fuwaa is in response to the regime’s aerial campaign against the East Ghouta Damascus suburbs, a representative of the Islamic Front told the UK-based news agency al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Both Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar a-Sham are members of the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist rebel groups.

Jaish al-Islam, whose de facto headquarters are in East Ghouta, and the regime have exchanged a series of deadly attacks between East Ghouta and Damascus in the past several weeks, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths.

Fuwaa Jaish al-Islam destroys a building in Fuwaa on Monday. Photo courtesy of @Islam_Army_News.

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