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Syria Direct: News Update 6-30-2014

Tentative ceasefire in Waer Rebels and regime forces have reportedly […]

30 June 2014

Tentative ceasefire in Waer

Rebels and regime forces have reportedly agreed to a 20-day ceasefire in the embattled neighborhood of Waer in Homs city, with a pro-opposition activist telling Syria Direct on Monday that “negotiations with the regime continue.”

“All of the rumors floating around about the failure of the negotiations are not true,” said Hassan Abu Zein, a pro-opposition activist in Homs.

Waer, located in the northern part of Homs, is the last opposition-controlled neighborhood in the city.

“We confirm that the negotiations are ongoing, and that there are some differences and some points that we are still working out,” Abu Zein said, “in order to find a solution and give new life to the citizens here.”

The agreement will take place in three stages, reported pro-opposition news source All4Syria on Sunday, and reportedly includes a ceasefire and a list of weapons and defectors in the neighborhood that will be used to determine the release of prisoners on both sides.

“The new agreement begins with a ceasefire for 20 days, then continues for three months,” reported pro-regime news outlet Syria News last Friday.

In early May, rebels in 13 neighborhoods of Old Homs surrendered their positions after two years of being surrounded by the regime, leaving Homs almost exclusively in government control.

Aid Waer Aid enters Waer following a temporary ceasefire. Photo courtesy of @AljadeedNews.

FSA expels ISIS from border town

Fighting for a Syrian-Iraqi border town in east Deir e-Zor province broke out Sunday night after the  Free Syrian Army (FSA) reportedly drove the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) out of al-Bokamel over the weekend, reported  the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday.

The fighters were reportedly led by Jabhat a-Nusra, who launched a major campaign against ISIS in al-Bokamal on Saturday, according to pro-opposition news source Syria News.

The town of al-Bokamal is located on the Syrian side of the Syria-Iraq border that ISIS reportedly took control of last week. The border, which ISIS had been attempting to seize for several months, allows the passage of fighters and supplies across the two countries. 

The eastern, oil-rich province of Deir e-Zor has been a battleground between ISIS, the Free Syrian Army and the regime for several months.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) formally announced the declaration of a Caliphate (Islamic state) over an audio recording released on the Internet on Sunday.

The Islamic State will require the allegiance of all Muslims – not just those in Syria and Iraq where ISIS is currently based – said Abu Muhammad, the spokesperson for ISIS, in the declaration. Current ISIS leader Abu-Bakr Baghdadi will assume the title of Caliph (Islamic leader) and rule the new state, according to the statement. 

Iraqi army claims Tikrit city entrances

The Iraqi army has reportedly gained control over the western and southern entrances to the Iraqi rebel-held city of Tikrit, an unnamed officer told AFP Monday, adding that “we have taken over the main road leading into the city.”

The statement comes as CNN reported on Monday that the Islamic State of Iraq and A-Sham (ISIS) remains in Tikrit with fighting ongoing for former President Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

In similar news of the Iraqi army’s progress, the official spokesman for the Iraqi Armed Forces, Qassem Ata, said in a news conference Monday that the army had seized the University of Tikirit, which Iraqi forces have utilized as a base for launching operations. Another security source reported that military reinforcements, including artillery and tanks, have reached the Spiecher base located to the north of Tikrit, and that “armed forces have taken all the roads leading to Tikrit.”

ISIS-allied rebels claimed on Facebook that they had taken control of the base on Sunday night and captured a large number of soldiers. Rebels also circulated video on Saturday purporting to show combatants driving by the presidential palace in Tikrit, located close to government buildings, in a bid to show they still controlled the city.

The battle for Tikrit, which fell on June 11 to ISIS effectively began last week when Iraqi forces, supported by heavy air cover, assaulted the ISIS-held city from four directions and closed points of entry and exit. Iraqi military sources noted that the roughly 300 American advisors sent to Iraq had participated in the battle, a claim which US officials denied.

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