3 min read  | Aleppo, Damascus, Deir e-Zor, Politics

Syria Direct: News Update 2-2-15


February 2, 2015

Regime progresses around DEZ airport

Regime warplanes carried out four airstrikes on the outskirts of Deir e-Zor military airport Sunday amidst reported progress for Syrian ground forces against the Islamic State in the area, reported pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor Under Fire.

An estimated 80 percent of the residents of nearby al-Boumr village had fled as of Sunday, reported Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently. The residents left because of the regime’s airstrikes in the area, a representative of the grassroots group told Syria Direct Monday.

The activist, who asked to remain anonymous, said that regime forces are advancing around the airport, backed by heavy air support.

One possible reason for Islamic State losses in the area is their confiscation of weapons from local rebel brigades who were fighting the regime at the airport but refused to pledge allegiance to the group, according to Deir e-Zor is being Slaughtered Silently.

Bomb outside Souq Hamidiyeh

Jabhat a-Nusra claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in the heart of Damascus against a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims, killing at least six and injuring more than 20 others in the explosion, according to the official Nusra Twitter account for Damascus.

“A hero of Jabhat a-Nusra entered the bus carrying a large number of apostates…and blew himself up amidst them,” said the Nusra account.

The explosion, which took place near the Souq Hamidiyeh, marked a rare attack in the capital’s Old City where security is at its strongest.

“Terrorists detonated an explosive device weighing five kilograms that was placed in front of the bus,” police sources told official Syrian state news agency SANA.

Hezbollah condemned the attack on its official news channel, Al-Manar, calling it evidence that Syrian “terrorists” work with Israel.

BusBombing Nusra claims responsibility for Damascus bus attack on Sunday. Photo courtesy of @OmarMadaniah.

Sniper-heavy crossing reopens temporarily

Rebel group Ahrar a-Sham cooperated with the Red Crescent on Sunday to move 11 women with chronic illnesses from rebel to regime-controlled territory in Aleppo city in order to receive medical treatment, reported pro-opposition Siraj Press.

The women traveled into regime territory through the Kraj al-Hajz crossing, which has been closed since February 2014 after regime snipers repeatedly targeted civilians trying to cross.

In related news, rebel forces killed 20 regime soldiers and captured six buildings in the northern al-Ashrafiya district of Aleppo on Sunday, reported pro-opposition Aksalser.

State-owned news agency SANA reported Sunday that, “in some neighborhoods of Aleppo city, terrorist takfiri organizations…are targeting safe neighborhoods with mortars and snipers.”

Report: 54 journalists killed in Syria last year

Fifty-four journalists were killed in Syria in 2014, raising the number of causalities in the media to 266 over the course of the war, according to a report released Sunday by the pro-opposition Syrian Journalists Association.

“Despite the fact that the number of reporters killed in 2014 was less than in previous years…the situation [for journalists] has still not improved,” said the report.

The organization also recorded 113 other violations against the media in 2014, 50 of which came at the hands of the Syrian government.

The Syrian Journalists Association, founded in 2012, is considered the largest collection of pro-opposition journalists in the country.

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