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Syria direct: News Update 9-18-14

IS captures Kurdish towns The Islamic State took control of […]

18 September 2014

IS captures Kurdish towns

The Islamic State took control of a series of villages around the city Ain al-Arab in northern Aleppo from Kurdish PYD battalions and Free Syrian Army fighters Thursday, according to the pro-opposition Smart News Agency.

IS’s attack on the villages is part of its larger push to capture the mixed Arab-Kurdish city of Ain al-Arab, known as Korbani in Kurdish, located between its bases in Aleppo and A-Raqqa. Last week, PYD and FSA forces in Aleppo and A-Raqqa formed an unprecedented alliance to combat the IS threat.

“IS controls 16 Kurdish villages in the countryside of Ain al-Arab,” the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday, “using tanks and heavy artillery.”

Meanwhile, the official PYD social media account claimed Thursday that the Kurdish forces at one point had reclaimed the villages Wednesday.

“[The PYD] killed dozens of IS fighters and liberated a number of villages in vicinity of Kobani [Ain al-Arab].”

At the time of publishing it appeared IS had seized the upper hand.

Air raid takes out Aleppo bakery and patrons

A regime helicopter dropped a barrel bomb over the Islamic State-controlled city of al-Bab in the eastern outskirts of Aleppo Thursday, targeting a bakery and killing at least 29 people, most of them civilians, pro-opposition news agency Smart News reported.

The barrel bomb produced an unusually large explosion that caused houses in the bakery’s vicinity to collapse on the inhabitants inside.

The attack appears to fit a pattern of regime forces deliberately targeting bakeries in rebel-controlled areas. Less than two weeks ago, warplanes struck a bakery in the IS-controlled city of A-Raqqa while patrons were inside, killing 35 civilians, reported UAE-owned daily al-Ittihad.

In related news, IS imposed a curfew on the inhabitants of al-Bab Wednesday for unknown reasons, prohibiting movement in the city after sundown prayers, according to the al-Bab Local Coordination Committee.

Al-Bab Regime targets bakery and civilians in IS-controlled al-Bab. Photo courtesy of @khgfdr76.

Mistaken use of muscle relaxant kills children

The deaths of at least 15 children during a vaccination campaign in a rebel-controlled city in Idlib may have been caused by a mix-up with a muscle relaxant with a similar appearance as the vaccination, the opposition-affiliated Committee of Inquiry said on Wednesday.

“[The muscle relaxant] was used as a solvent for the vaccine instead of the proper solvent,” said Mohammed Hammadi, a doctor and director of the program in rebel-controlled Idlib, in the committee’s statement.

“Based on the investigation, we will refer the entire file to a specialized court to examine why the muscle relaxant was in the refrigerator allotted for the vaccine…and if it was an innocent mistake…or the work of a criminal.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF and WHO suspended the UN-supported measles immunization campaign in Idlib and Deir e-Zor in a joint statement Thursday.

“The WHO has deployed a team of experts to provide assistance to those carrying out the investigation in Idlib,” said the press release.

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