3 min read  | Deir e-Zor, Hama, Politics, Reports

SYRIA DIRECT: NEWS UPDATE 8-27-2014


August 27, 2014

Nusra attacks Christian town

Opposition forces led by Jabhat a-Nusra struck Mherda in northern Hama with rocket fire Wednesday in an attempt to storm the town, reported pro-opposition news agency Eldorar.

A-Nusra has already captured an eastern district of the city, and is positioning itself to take the remainder as well.

Many training centers around Mherda, a Christian-majority city, have been captured by the regime and used, against the will of at least some of the town’s residents, as training grounds for shabiha (pro-regime militias) and launching pads for attacks on the surrounding area.

Up to 1,500 Nusra fighters participated in the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian air force pounds IS in Deir e-Zor

The Islamic State (IS) massed its forces Tuesday around the Deir e-Zor military airport—a principal regime base in the province—in preparation for an attack, while the Syrian regime carried out at least 12 air raids on the nearby city of Deir e-Zor.

“IS has begun to organize its ranks in order to launch an attack on the Deir e-Zor military airport,” said an unnamed activist quoted by the London-based Saudi daily a-Sharq al-Awsat.

Embedded image permalinkIS prepares to attack Deir e-Zor military airport‏.

IS-affiliated social media accounts appeared to corroborate the news, warning of an upcoming attack just three days after the Islamic State captured Tabqa military airport in A-Raqqa province. “Deir e-Zor will soon be decorated with their heads,” one Twitter handle said Wednesday, referring to Syrian army soldiers present in the airport.

Meanwhile, the Syrian air force bombed IS headquarters in Deir e-Zor city—which sits to the northwest of the airport—as well as a training camp on the outskirts of the town, in what the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described as the regime’s “most concentrated” airstrikes since July.

Syrian official news agency SANA said that “army and armed forces units laid waste to a number of terrorists, both killed and wounded” in various Deir e-Zor neighborhoods.

Deir e-Zor city is split between IS and Syrian army control. Although IS controls the vast majority of the province—having expanded its control in mid July—the SA maintains a base in the military airport and a number of surrounding villages.

SNHR: IS kills nearly 3,500 in Syria since April

The Islamic State has killed 3,473 people in Syria since the organization was officially announced in April 2013, according to a report published Tuesday by the pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The number does not reflect the total number of individuals the State has killed in Syria- for example it does not include Syrian army casualties-but rather the deaths that SNHR was able to verify using eyewitness reports, investigations, pictures and videos posted online by revolutionary activists and IS members themselves.

The SNHR reported that 99 percent of those killed were Syrian: 2,691 from the Free Syrian Army, and 782 civilians “who were massacred as they’re considered apostates, infidels and Western agents.”

IS employs both mass killings and individual murders to reach the documented number, adopting a strategy of “kidnapping, torture and assassinations of revolutionary activists of all stripes.”

In a telling passage listed under “conclusions and recommendations,” SNHR said that “the sectarian massacres that the regime and its shabiha [regime-affiliated gangs] committed clearly contributed to attracting a large number of people, from all over the world, to fight under IS’s banner.”

Correction: This article has been revised to show that the regime has utilized training centers around Mherda against the will of at least some of the citizens of that town. 

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