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Syria Direct: News Update 2-3-15

Rebels advance in Aleppo taking key hill Opposition forces captured […]

3 February 2015

Rebels advance in Aleppo taking key hill

Opposition forces captured a strategic hill located at the northeast entrance of Aleppo city on Tuesday as they attempt to block the regime from cutting off the last rebel supply line into the city, reported pro-opposition news agency Halab News.

“With this operation, the rebels can stifle the regime’s efforts to penetrate into Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods,” Hussein Khatab, a citizen photographer in Aleppo, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

By advancing northeast of the city, rebels also hope to loosen the regime’s grip on the nearby Sheikh Najjar area, from which regime forces threaten to encircle the city.

A number of rebel brigades participated in the attack, during which they took 15 regime fighters as prisoners, the largest of which was Jabhat a-Shamiyya – a collection of Islamist groups in the north – reported pro-opposition Sas News Agency.

The rebels reportedly killed at least 35 regime fighters, several of whom were foreign, and destroyed a tank in the attack.

Iranian and Shiite Afghan militias are fighting for the regime in Aleppo. 

Heavier airstrikes on Douma than usual

Regime forces continued to pound Douma city with 57mm artillery on Tuesday after conducting eight airstrikes Monday in what the LCC called a “terrifying massacre.”

Monday’s airstrikes killed 11 and injured 86, six of whom are in critical condition, a source with the Unified Medical Office for Douma told Syria Direct Tuesday.

The source said that doctors carried out 17 surgeries for the injured, including one on a 12-year old who lost both of his eyes.

Minarets in the city requested that civilians head to medical locations to donate blood, a local citizen journalist who asked to remain anonymous told Syria Direct.

The LCC posted pictures to Facebook Tuesday reportedly showing an entire neighborhood leveled during the airstrikes.

Official state media did not comment on the airstrikes. State-owned SANA reported Monday that “army units carried out special operations that destroyed [rebel] weapons and ammunition and killed terrorists…inside Douma.” 

 Regime pounds Douma with airstrikes and artillery on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of @EmanAlhariri1.

Kurds progress against IS in Kobani countryside

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters took control of five new villages in the western Kobani countryside, and one to the east, Tuesday morning after expelling the Islamic State from Kobani late last month, reported pro-Kurdish AraNews.

23 IS fighters were killed in the fighting in the eastern Kobani countryside amidst progress for the Kurdish forces on all fronts, a fighter with the YPG was quoted by AraNews as saying. 

Kurdish forces progressed on the eastern, southern, western, and southwestern fronts, and have retaken more than 30 villages from IS, the SOHR reported Monday.

In related news, Mustafa Ebdi, a journalist inside Kobani, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday of reported preparation “for a huge campaign by the FSA against IS headquarters in the Aleppo countryside and A-Raqqa, after IS’s humiliating loss in Kobani.” 

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