Several opposition brigades fighting under the FSA-affiliated Southern Front issued announcements Monday disavowing military cooperation with Jabhat a-Nusra and distancing themselves from the Al-Qaeda affiliate’s hardline takfiri ideology, reported pro-opposition Halab Today TV on Tuesday.
The announcements were individual to each brigade rather than a single document, Siraj al-Furqan, spokesman for Alwiya a-Furqan, a non-signatory brigade operative in the region, told Syria Direct Tuesday. He denied knowledge of the reasons behind the announcements.
A spokesman for one of the signatory brigades declined to give an official statement to Syria Direct Tuesday, saying that “in the coming days they [the brigades] will clarify everything.”
The announcements stressed that the Southern Front was the single military entity representative of the Syrian revolution in the south.
Southern FSA brigades refuse cooperation with Nusra. Photo courtesy of Halab Today.
FSA, Kurds take IS ground near Kobani
Joint FSA-Kurdish “Euphrates Volcano” forces took control of several villages from the Islamic State in the Kobani countryside Monday in the first advance in the area in two months, the head of Kurdish ArtaFM Radio told Syria Direct Tuesday.
“The liberation of the villages led to the cutting off of [Islamic State] supply and communications lines between the eastern and western fronts,” said Mustafa Abdi.
The joint forces’ future plans include the capture of Sarin up to the Tishreen Dam to the south, and the village of al-Jurn to the East, while heading towards “a war to liberate Tel Abyad,” on the Turkish border.
More than 18 Islamic State fighters were killed in Monday’s fighting, reported the pro-opposition outlet Kobani and Its Countryside News.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and various Syrian rebel brigades announced the formation of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room last September in order to combat the Islamic State (IS) across areas of northern Syria.
Rebels move into regime-controlled Aleppo city
A coalition of Islamist forces pushed regime fighters back into the residential area around the Air Force Intelligence compound in Aleppo city on Tuesday after capturing the base and several buildings around it Monday, reported the pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center.
The capture of the base in northwest Aleppo opens a new rebel front in the battle for the city, where forces have until now been concentrated in the east.
The rebels made a “major advance” in the area, inflicting nearly 70 casualties against regime and allied forces, a military source from Jabhat a-Nusra told pro-opposition news network Syria Mubasher.
Rebel forces captured the Air Force Intelligence compound and several buildings around it after detonating an explosives-laden tunnel (for video, see here) underneath the branch, the source continued.
Rebel forces have been attempting to take the base—from which the regime evacuated of all non-military personnel three months ago—for nearly two years, making another incursion using tunnel explosives in early March.
Idlib rebels push regime attack back
The Islamist-led opposition coalition “Victory Army” destroyed a military convoy in central Idlib province on Monday, driving back a regime attempt to relieve pressure on a nearby military base, a local media activist told Syria Direct on Tuesday.
“If it weren’t for the regime air support [that saved them] the rebels would have captured them all,” said Ghatfan Shibli, an Idlib-based member of the pro-opposition news agency Syrian Reporter.
The regime sent the convoy to win control of the rebel-held town of Qamaenas—situated on a hill that overlooks the highway between Idlib city and the Mastuma military base—in order to bomb the rebel supply road, said Shibli.
The rebels killed “tens” of regime soldiers during the fighting, reported pro-opposition news agency El-Dorar.
The Victory Army, led by Jabhat a-Nusra and Ahar a-Sham, stepped up its attack on the Mastuma military base, just south of Idlib city, after it won control of the provincial capital from the regime several weeks ago.
In related news, Human Rights Watch said that evidence “strongly suggests” that the regime used toxic chemicals in barrel bomb attacks in Idlib province during the rebel attack on Idlib city on Tuesday.