3 min read  | Daraa, Politics, Suwayda

Syria Direct: News Update 3-23-15


March 23, 2015

Activists accuse YPG of burning more Arab villages

Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG] reportedly burned a number of YPG-controlled Arab villages in the rural heart of Al-Hasakah province on Sunday, the latest in what activists call a series of burnings in the past month, a local journalist told Syria Direct on Monday.

The villages reportedly burned to the ground by the YPG Sunday night outside of Tel Brak, on the main highway between Al-Hasakah city and Qamishli, are Rajem Tafihi, Mezr, Um Ghadir, Huwaish and Khuwatla Qarnus, said Ali al-Harith.

YPG forces have reportedly burned Arab villages in Al-Hasakah multiple times since they began their operation to drive out the Islamic State [IS] from the province earlier this year, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network. Syria Direct began documenting reports of burned villages earlier this month, but have not established a clear motive for the practice.  

The YPG’s practices are not accepted by all Kurds in the region, Siraj al-Din al-Hasakawi, the alias of a media activist in Al-Hasakah, told Syria Direct on Monday.

Tel Brak is located on the road between the provincial capital of Al-Hasakah and the Kurdish city of Qamishli. The YPG, aided by regime forces, won control of it from IS last month.  

FSA targets largest regime base in Daraa

FSA-affiliated forces attacked the regime’s largest stronghold in southeastern Daraa province for the third day on Monday, reported the Local Coordination Council of Bosra.

Rebels managed to infiltrate the center of regime-controlled Busra a-Sham, exploding the only entrance to the city’s ancient citadel where regime forces are concentrated, the LCC reported.

Opposition media site Siraj Press reported the names of numerous regime casualties, including an Iranian sniper, while the state-owned media agency SANA reported the deaths of 15 civilians and several rebels on Monday.

The regime’s garrison in the city, which is reinforced by fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the National Defense Forces, and Shiite militias, protects the route to southwestern Suwayda province. Rebel control of the city would split the areas under the regimes control in Daraa and Suwayda.

The attack comes after relative quiet in Daraa province, where the majority of fighting has been for a strategic triangle in the northwest bordering Quneitra and Outer Damascus provinces.

Busra a-Sham1Rebels fight from a captured regime checkpoint in Bosra a-Sham. Photo courtesy of twimg.

Nusra ambushes Hezbollah in Qalamoun

Jabhat a-Nusra detonated an explosive device under a Hezbollah vehicle in the western Qalamoun mountains on Monday, killing two and wounding seven as part of a larger campaign to cut off Hezbollah’s supply lines into the area, a local citizen journalist told Syria Direct.

The attack near the village of Ras al-Maara “aims to regain control of areas under Hezbollah control, and cut off the group’s supply artery [from Lebanon] towards cities and villages in Qalamoun,” Thaer al-Qalamouni told Syria Direct Monday.

As part of the same campaign, Nusra captured several points around the regime-held village of Fleita Saturday, reported pro-opposition news agency El-Dorar, as rebels clashed with regime forces in the vicinity of the Asal al-Ward village.

Hezbollah captured large parts of western Qalamoun near the Lebanese border area a year and a half ago.

Rebels bomb regime and Iranian officers meeting in Aleppo 

A Free Syrian Army [FSA]-affiliated artillery brigade reportedly killed several Iranian and regime officers meeting near the Aleppo State Security Branch in the city on Sunday, eliminating a number of men leading the regime campaign to encircle Aleppo, reported pro-opposition Halab News.

It is unclear how the FSA brigade killed the officers, although pro-opposition sites say that an explosion took place during the meeting.

Ambulances rushed the wounded to the nearby Aleppo University Hospital in central Aleppo, also delivering more than 15 dead–three of whom were reportedly Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers–according to the UAE-based satellite channel Al-Aan. The bombing had reportedly been planned for more than three months.

Pro-regime Al-Ahed News wrote the losses are only material.

Regime forces have attempted to encircle Aleppo city for the past six months, repeatedly threatening to cut off the last rebel supply line into Syria’s largest city.

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