3 min read  | Deir e-Zor, Idlib, Politics

Syria Direct: News Update 3-17-15


March 17, 2015

Regime heads south to break IS siege in Deir e-Zor

Regime forces launched three air strikes on an Islamic State-controlled town on the Damascus-Deir e-Zor highway 20 kilometers south of the provincial capital on Tuesday, reported the pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Silently Slaughtered.

“The strike was an attempt to break a two-month Islamic State encirclement of regime-controlled neighborhoods in southern Deir e-Zor city,” Mohammad Hassan, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Regime forces shelled and launched air strikes on al-Showla Tuesday, Hassan said, adding that the Islamic State intercepted them seven kilometers north of the village. Fighting is ongoing as of publication.

“Regime forces launched a similar operation on the town Monday but were pushed back by IS,” Hassan said.

The Deir e-Zor-Damascus highway leads into southern Deir e-Zor city. The regime seeks to take over al-Showla in preparation for an assault on the village of Qabajab, located farther south along the highway and also controlled by IS, to secure a direct supply route into southern Deir e-Zor city, Hassan said.

Barrel bombs on Idlib town amidst chemical claims

Rebel checkpoints near the Bab al-Hawa border post are on high alert to facilitate ambulances crossing into Turkey after the town of Sarmeen in Idlib province was struck by a series of barrel bombs Monday night, reported the pro-opposition Sham News Network.

The entire Warif Talib family of six was killed in the attack, reported the Sarmeen LCC.

A total of 75 were injured in the barrel-bomb attacks, a doctor in the Sarmeen field hospital was quoted by pro-opposition Zaman al-Wasl as saying, adding that the hospital is suffering from a lack of medical and logistical supplies.

Opposition media accused the regime of using chemical agents in Monday’s attack.

The Sarameen LCC uploaded videos Monday of medical staff reportedly treating victims for inhalation of poison gases. Another video reportedly shows first aid responders suffering from symptoms of gas inhalation after treating the wounded.

“More than 15 individuals from the Civil Defense [i.e. first responders] and the hospital staff were exposed to injuries after rescuing and touching the wounded,” citizen journalist Anis Jaber from Sarmeen told Syria Direct Tuesday.

samerinA destroyed building in Saramin. Photo courtesy of Sarmeen Mubashar.

IS arrests its own

The Islamic State arrested the Syrian head of its police force in Mayadin in Deir e-Zor on Monday, days after arresting another prominent Syrian leader in the province, reported the pro-opposition grassroots news group Manbij Here.

“It appears that [IS] has been running a campaign of arrests against its Syrian leaders,” Abu Mujahed, the pseudonym of a Deir e-Zor-based media activist who works with pro-opposition news campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently, told Syria Direct Tuesday.

IS controls most of the eastern, oil-rich province, but has recently faced increased pressure because of US airstrikes and clandestine assassinations against the jihadist group.

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