Jaish al-Islam captures East Ghouta from IS
Jaish al-Islam captured the strategic village of Medaa in East Ghouta from the Islamic State on Tuesday, reported the monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, but a Jaish al-Islam fighter told Syria Direct Wednesday that the victory was a costly one.
“The IS was able to kill dozens of Jaish al-Islam and other groups’ fighters as a result of the ambushes they set,” Abu Sabhi told Syria Direct.
Those deaths came in addition to the 25 Jaish al-Islam fighters that IS captured on Monday.
Jaish al-Islam fighters in Medaa after capturing it from IS on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of
However, “ISIS could not hold onto Medaa because of heavy attacks and an intense campaign against the village for three days, which forced them to withdraw,” Abu Sabhi added.
Medaa is considered strategic because it is an entrance point into East Ghouta. Its capture is part of Jaish al-Islam’s plan to seize control of the area from the IS.
“We will not rest comfortably until we expel the last member of IS from East Ghouta,” Sheikh Abu Abdulrahman Ka’keh, a Jaish al-Islam leader, said Tuesday, as reported by pro-opposition news group All4Syria Wednesday.
“We will follow them into every neighborhood of East Ghouta.”
IS calls for Muslims to immigrate to caliphate
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State, called on Muslims on Tuesday—through an audio recording widely circulated on social media—to immigrate to the caliphate.
“Syria isn’t for Syrians and Iraq isn’t for Iraqis, but it’s Muslim land for all Muslims so come, O Muslims, to your state,” al-Baghdadi said, directing his call specifically at “students, religious scholars, preachers—particularly the judges among them—those with military, administrative and service experience, doctors, and engineers.”
At least one resident of the Islamic State’s current target, Deir e-Zor city, rejected the extremist group’s call. “We, like others outside ISIS, don’t care what ISIS announces, or al-Baghdadi,” Deir e-Zor-based citizen journalist Abu Bakr told Syria Direct Wednesday. “We can’t pledge allegiance to someone we know nothing about.”
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq released a statement on Tuesday condemning the caliphate’s announcement. The association declared that the creation of an Islamic, or non-Islamic, state or emirate in current conditions “will be used as a pretext for dividing the country, and will bring people damage and harm.”
IS released more than 100 captives in the city of Al-Bab on the outskirts of Aleppo Tuesday to celebrate the announcement of the creation of the Islamic state.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights predicted that the Al-Qaeda splinter group would release “hundreds” more in an attempt to gain the sympathy of those living under the caliphate.
Russia seeks to stop “terror” oil sales
Russia issued a draft statement this week to the UN Security Council in order prevent the sale of crude oil by “terrorist groups” in Syria, according to a report Tuesday from the official Syrian news agency SANA.
Russia’s proposal “strongly condemns any engagement in direct or indirect trade of oil from Syrian terrorist groups,” adding that such transactions constitute support for terrorism.
The Russian statement specifically mentions the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat a-Nusra, reported The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the statement Monday.
Meanwhile, France accused IS on Monday of selling oil from captured areas to the Syrian regime.
IS has a presence in several oil-rich regions across Syria and Iraq, including the eastern province of Deir e-Zor in Syria and the oil fields around Mosul in Iraq that it captured last month.
The group allegedly exports crude oil from Mosul through Syria and Kurdistan, a source told independent Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News on Wednesday.
The report did not specify who purchases the oil.
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