3 min read  | Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Politics

Syria Direct: News Update 3-19-15


March 19, 2015

Major aid convoy allowed into southern Damascus

The regime allowed a major aid convoy carrying tons of vital foodstuffs to enter an FSA-governed area of southern Damascus, a local pro-opposition media activist told Syria Direct on Thursday.

The regime allowed 30 tons of food supplies on Wednesday “for the nearly 10,000 families living in the three towns,” said Walid Agha, who works with the pro-opposition Facebook news page Arab Spring.

“[Despite the size of convoy], it is certain these supplies will not be enough for everyone,” Agha added.

The convoy is by far the largest since the regime began allowing supplies to enter the the towns of Beit Sahem, Babila, and Yelda last Saturday.

The three towns agreed to truces with the government more than a year ago, but have faced numerous violations from regime forces due to  Jabhat a-Nusra’s presence in the area.

The relaxing of the blockade comes after the withdrawal of Nusra from Beit Sahem on March 12, reported the Local Coodination Council for Babila.

Nusra left the district in January following popular protests calling for its departure, but later returned causing further protests and clashes with FSA forces controlling the area.

Regime under pressure in Idlib

Regime warplanes launched several airstrikes against the opposition-controlled Taftanaz Military Airport and several nearby villages in Idlib province on Thursday in an attempt to relieve pressure from its other positions in the region, reported pro-opposition Smart News Agency.

“The targeting of the airport is important because it applies pressure on the rebels, not necessarily because of its strategic significance,” Tariq Abdul Haq, a pro-opposition media activist currently in regime-controlled Idlib city, told Syria Direct on Thursday.

The Islamist group Ahrar a-Sham currently controls the airport, which rebels have held for more than two years.

The strikes come in the wake of a series of attacks over the past several weeks on the regime-controlled city of Idlib by the Islamic Front rebel coaltion, of which Ahar a-Sham is a member. 

Meanwhile, Feilaq a-Sham, another member of the Islamic Front, fired mortars into Idlib city, killing at least one citizen, reported the pro-regime Idlib News Network.

The regime has closed all roads to Idlib city, which is surrounded by rebel-controlled areas.

FSA captures Hezbollah fighters in north Aleppo

Free Syrian Army [FSA] fighters captured two Hezbollah reconnaissance units north of Handarat village, where the battle rages for control of the last supply route into rebel-held Aleppo, a pro-opposition journalist in Aleppo told Syria Direct on Thursday.

“The FSA ambushed two Hezbollah reconnaissance units Wednesday night, north of Handarat, capturing up to 17 as they tried to sneak into the village,” the journalist said.

The FSA also captured on Wednesday a Hezbollah rescue team–reportedly led by an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officer–that attempted to go in and free the two Hezbollah reconnaissance units, reported the pro-opposition news agency Syria News on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Despite regime claims to the contrary, clashes appear to be ongoing at Handarat, a village the regime needs to capture in order to cut the only rebel supply line into Aleppo, about 2.5km south.

Although the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports the Syrian army captured Handarat village on Wednesday, a local activist told the pro-opposition news agency Enab Baladi the same day that the regime controls only a few buildings on the outskirts of Handarat village.

HezbollahMembersArrested Rebels take Hezbollah fighters prisoner on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Jordanzad.

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