Syria Direct: News Update 6-17-2014


June 17, 2014

Rebel leader assassinated in Deir e-Zor

A car bomb Monday in the northern Deir e-Zor town of Shamitiyeh killed Ahrar a-Sham’s leader in eastern Syria, said Abu Abdullah a-Shami, spokesman with the pro-rebel Deir e-Zor Local Coordination Committee (LCC).

The attack on the joint headquarters of Jabhat a-Nusra and the Islamic Front’s Ahrar a-Sham also killed five others and injured more than 10. While no group claimed immediate responsibility, pro-rebel media blamed the bombing on the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS).

Meanwhile, the leader of the local Free Syrian Army-affiliated Military Council narrowly escaped assassination when “unknown assailants” opened fire in the village of al-Boulil Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Following ISIS’s raid on the Iraqi city of Mosul last week, the extremist group transferred caches of heavy weaponry and armored vehicles to the eastern oil-rich province, where it is waging a two-front war against the Syrian regime and the Nusra-led rebels.

Regime targets ISIS for 4th day

The Syrian air force launched four airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham’s stronghold of a-Raqqa Tuesday, extending its campaign against the al-Qaeda-splinter group for a fourth consecutive day.

“The planes are still in the air above the city, and ISIS has not launched any anti-aircraft rockets,” pro-opposition Tahrir Souri reported, adding that seven civilians had been killed in the strikes.

Embedded image permalinkSyrians seek shelter as regime airstrikes target a-Raqqa Tuesday. Photo courtesy of @RMCRaqqa

Meanwhile, one week after ISIS began its sudden advance in northern and western Iraq, American President Barack Obama announced Monday the United State would send 275 troops to protect its embassy in Baghdad.

The same day, the al-Qaeda splinter group advanced into the northwestern mixed-ethnic town of Tel Afar, on Iraq’s highway between Mosul and the Syrian border.

35 killed in Aleppo barrel bombs

In an especially bloody day, the Assad regime reportedly killed at least 35 people in the Sukkuri district of Aleppo Monday after dropping two barrel bombs on the marketplace, according to pro-opposition media agency Halab News. The attack on the opposition-held southern district of Aleppo also injured 60 others, Halab News added.

Fourteen barrel bombs and eight missiles struck the city Monday night alone, said Aleppo based media activist Ahmed Al Ahmed, in what appears to be renewed efforts by the regime to pressure the opposition.

Meanwhile, pro-opposition news Halab Today reported that 60 people were killed Monday in regime attacks across the city.

Regime releases dozens of prisoners

The Syrian government released dozens of Syrian prisoners Monday in accordance with the “general amnesty” that Assad announced June 9, 2014 following his victory in the presidential elections, reported the official Syrian television agency. According to the agency, 60 prisoners were released from prisons in Aleppo, 135 in Daraa and 15 in Tartus.

The former prisoners “confirmed that they will be on the side of the state” following their release, the state agency added.

Meanwhile, it is expected that 180 other prisoners will be released Tuesday from Damascus after having been transferred there from the main prison in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Assad has released prisoners before, most notably in 2011 when many of the released prisoners later joined extremist groups.

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