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Syria Direct: News Update 2-27-2014

* A fresh round of fighting broke out between rebel […]

27 February 2014

* A fresh round of fighting broke out between rebel militias and the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) in Syria’s northern a-Raqqa province Wednesday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that unidentified militants had killed a number of ISIS fighters while attempting to push the group out of a-Raqqa, of which it gained full control last month. The renewed fighting follows Jabhat a-Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani’s threat Tuesday that ISIS would face open war from Syria to Iraq if it did not reconcile with other groups within five days. Meanwhile, fighting continued between ISIS, Islamist brigades and Kurdish militias in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province on Thursday, with pro-opposition Syrian news site Smart News reporting that ISIS had seized control of the Hasakah village of Tel Maarouf following a suicide attack against a Kurdish militia base.

RaqqaKurds_2.jpgAn ISIS combatant said Wednesday ISIS had arrested more than 100 Kurdish YPG fighters. Photo courtesy of @Twhid26.

 * A regime ambush reportedly killed more than 150 people as Free Syrian Army forces escorted five convoys including a total of 250 civilians out of besieged areas of East Ghouta in Outer Damascus. Regime forces attacked the convoys with tank rounds and heavy machine guns after mines struck the convoy, a spokesman for the pro-opposition Syria Press news outlet, based several kilometers from al-Ataiba, the site of the attack, told Syria Direct on Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attack, reporting Wednesday that 152 fighters from Jabhat a-Nusra and other Islamist brigades were killed in an ambush by government and Hezbollah fighters. For its part, Syrian state news claimed that government forces had killed over 175 members of “armed terrorist groups” in the ambush, including Saudis, Qataris and Chechens. 

* ISIS published a statement Wednesday entitled “The oath of safety to the Christians of a-Raqqa,” in which the al-Qaeda splinter group promises the a-Raqqa’s Christian minority protected status provided that they accede to certain conditions. The statement demands that Christians pay the Islamic “jizya” tax, that they “not reveal their worship rituals outside the church,” not disparage Islam, and “submit to Islamic sharia in the state.”

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