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Syria Direct: News Update 7-1-2014


July 1, 2014

Jaish al-Islam: ISIS kidnaps, kills fighters

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) captured 25 Jaish al-Islam fighters Monday in East Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, even as a fighter with Jaish al-Islam told Syria Direct Tuesday that Jaish al-Islam had thought that fighting ISIS in the area “would not expose our fighters to much danger.”

The fighting between ISIS and Jaish al-Islam in East Ghouta is part of Jaish al-Islam’s larger plan to gain control over the area by targeting the town of Medaa, south of Douma, where ISIS is weaker.

“We began the battle with Jaish al-Islam [there] for two reasons,” Abu Subhi, a fighter with Jaish al-Islam in East Ghouta told Syria Direct. “One, because we wanted to put pressure on ISIS in the south of Douma away from its military positions and two, because we thought it did not expose our fighters to much danger.”

Meanwhile, ISIS reportedly executed an undisclosed number of those captured fighters along with a media spokesperson for Jaish al-Islam Monday, reported pro-opposition news outlet All4Syria Tuesday.

ISIS recaptures border town from FSA

ISIS captured large swaths of the Syrian border town of al-Bokamel on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, while other opposition sources claim that the Islamic State took the town in its entirety.

The announcement comes after a weekend of heavy fighting between rebels, led by Jabhat a-Nusra, and ISIS for control of al-Bokamel that began on Saturday. The town falls along the Syrian-Iraqi border that ISIS captured last week, a victory that has allowed the group to shuttle goods and fighters between the two countries.

Embedded image permalinkIslamic State fighters after recapturing al-Bokamel. Photo courtesy of @MrsadAljihad.

Several sources, including pro-Islamic opposition a-Dorar network, reported that heavy fighting broke out again in Bokamel Tuesday morning as the battle for full control of the town continued.

Also on Tuesday, ISIS captured the town of al-Kasar, site of a Jabhat a-Nusra base located to the north of a-Shuail in Deir e-Zor province, while advancing towards the latter.

Sunni militants attacks Samarra

Sunni militants reportedly attacked the al-Askari mosque in Samarra late Monday night, targeting one of the most sacred Shiite shrines in Iraq and threatening to escalate the sectarian conflict in the country, reported Egyptian news al-Mokhtasr Tuesday.

A major bombing at the same shrine in 2006 was the primary cause for a sectarian war between Iraqi Sunni and Shiite that quickly followed, killing thousands and sending the entire country in disarray.

Four mortar shells struck the shrine and its gate, killing and injuring an undisclosed number of people, according to a report on Tuesday from local Iraqi pro-regime news agency Nisirayah.

The city of Samarra, located 125 kilometers north of Baghdad, has been a primary concern of both Iraqi and US officials.

“Everyone understands that Samarra is an important line,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week in his visit to Baghdad.

ISIS fighters breached the city in early June but retreated after Iraqi forces came to reinforce security around the city and the shrine.

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