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Syria Direct: News Update 3-2-15

Islamic State looks to expand in east Homs The Islamic […]

2 March 2015

Islamic State looks to expand in east Homs

The Islamic State is intensifying its campaign against regime forces in the eastern Homs countryside following losses to the Kurds in the north, a former Syrian Army colonel told Syria Direct on Monday. 

“IS wants to start a fight in eastern Homs following its defeat in northeast Syria,” Ibrahim al-Omar, a former Syrian Army colonel and regime defector told Syria Direct on Monday.

The Islamic State “now lurks in the villages of Al-Mukhram and Jub Al-Jarah and is making inroads into the oil-producing regions, which are its number one target in the area,” al-Omar said.

The pro-opposition Step News agency reported on Monday that the Islamic State captured the village of Jub Al-Jarah 54km east of Homs. An Islamic State fighter familiar with operations in the area denied the report, saying they took checkpoints instead.

“We didn’t take over Jub Al-Jarah … we captured three regime checkpoints near Mount Ash-Shumariya, which overlooks Jub Al-Jarah,” an IS fighter told Syria Direct on Monday.

“Reinforcements are arriving from A-Raqqa and Deir e-Zor to the eastern Homs countryside,” he added

The regime took out several “terrorists” outside Jub Al-Jarah, destroying their war machines and ammunition, reported at least one Syrian state news website.

Nusra vows to pursue Harakat Hazm leaders

Jabhat a-Nusra announced that it would continue to pursue the leaders of Harakat Hazm after taking over the group’s headquarters, according to a statement released Sunday.

“We will continue to chase down the heads and leaders of that criminal gang so that they suffer punishment for their oppression,” Nusra said in the statement.

The group called on Harakat Hazm fighters to turn themselves in to sharia courts empowered to prosecute anyone committing crimes “against Muslims and the mujahideen.” Mere membership in Harakat Hazm is not enough for individuals to be prosecuted.

The statement demanded that Hazm reveal the fate of all prisoners being held by the group, in particular Abi Anas al-Jaza’iri, a member of Nusra’s Jihad Missionary Center.

It further called for the return of the corpse of Nusra emir Al-Sheikh Abu Aisa al-Tabqa, among others who reported died in Harakat Hazm custody.

These developments come two days after Nusra fighters took Fauj 46 from Harakat Hazm, forcing the latter to retreat from its headquarters to the village of Al-Atras. More than 100 fighters from both sides died in the fighting.

Rebels launch Hama campaign to ease pressure on Daraa

Rebel brigades began a new campaign Sunday in the northern Hama countryside to take a series of regime checkpoints in the area to reduce pressure on rebels fighting in the Daraa-Quneitra-Outer Damascus triangle, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.

The operation also aims to provide moral support to rebels fighting in Douma and Aleppo.

Rebels began by attacking several regime positions on the outskirts of the city of Mherdeh, which pro-regime Hama News Network described on Sunday as “extremely violent.”

The rebels did not realize “any progress as of Sunday night,” HNN added.

Six rebels and at least three regime fighters were killed in the initial clashes, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Monday.

The campaign, titled “O Prophet of God Here I Am at Your Service,” includes Jabhat a-Nusra, Feilaq a-Sham, Ahrar a-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, among a number of other brigades.

AloushTanks Jaish al-Islam tank moves towards regime target in north Aleppo. Photo courtesy of @zahran_media.

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