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Syria Direct: News Update 3-24-15

Jabhat a-Nusra drives suicide van into Aleppo village Jabhat a-Nusra […]

24 March 2015

Jabhat a-Nusra drives suicide van into Aleppo village

Jabhat a-Nusra attacked a village northeast of Aleppo with a vehicle-born suicide bombing on Monday in an attempt to cut off a regime supply route, reported the pro-opposition news agency Shahba Press on Monday.

Although it is unclear where the blast occurred inside Dwer a-Zaytun, it allegedly opened the way for Nusra fighters to capture a number of points inside the village.

Nusra prepared for the assault by sneaking sniping and explosives teams into Dwer a-Zaytun to pick off and blow up counter-attacking regime forces, Nusra posted on its official Twitter account Monday.

By capturing Dwer a-Zaytun, located 7km north of Aleppo city near a government supply line, Nusra aims to cut off access to a nearby garrison of Syrian army soldiers stationed at the village of Bashkuy, on the road to the pro-regime Shiite towns of Nubul and Zahra, reported the pro-opposition news site All4Syria on Tuesday.

The Nusra suicide vehicle, piloted by a fighter named “Osama a-Turki,” was made of a van packed with explosives, then plated in makeshift armor to deflect regime bullets and bombs fired to pre-detonate the craft, according to a Nusra photo also by the group tweeted on Monday.

Opposition groups including Nusra have thwarted numerous attempts by regime forces to encircle Aleppo over the past six months, repeatedly fighting to its north where the last rebel supply line into the city is located.

NusraBombedcar Nusra prepares a suicide attack. Photo courtesy of @JnHalab

YPG solidifies control over ethnically mixed towns

YPG police forces in Hasakah province announced on Monday they would begin recruitment efforts in two towns recently captured from the Islamic State (IS), reported the pro-Kurdish ANHA news outlet.

Activists accuse the YPG forces of repeatedly burning the homes of Arab residents in the same area, south of Qamishli, around Tal Barak and Tal Hamees over the past month. The YPG denies the charge.

Both towns link IS territory in Iraq and Syria before being captured by YPG forces at the end of last month.

Fighting for the towns caused nearly 13,000 people to flee their homes, reported the pro-Kurdish ARA news outlet, and occurred as part of a broader YPG campaign to expel IS from Hasakah province.

Male and female recruits living in the villages who are in good health and possess at least a middle school diploma would be accepted into the Asayish forces, reported the pro-Kurdish ARA news outlet on Tuesday.

Regime attacks Qalamoun mountains

Regime forces attacked the rebel-controlled city of Zabadani in the Qalamoun mountains near the Lebanese border on Monday as part of a prelude to a possible wider assault on the mountain range, reported both opposition and pro-regime sources.

Zabadani is the the largest rebel outpost in the region, sitting between Damascus and the southern end of the Qalamoun mountains.

Government helicopters dropped barrel bombs in coordination with mortar and gunfire from regime positions around Zabadani, while rebels drove back a regime attempt to seize several buildings on the city’s outskirts, reported pro-opposition Qasion News.

Pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported that the Syrian government intensified “pre-emptive” strikes around the city and carried out helicopter raids on rebel positions in the mountains to the west of Zabadani.

Other pro-regime and opposition sources have repeated the prediction of a regime campaign alongside Hezbollah to take the Qalamoun mountains.

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