Opposition forces led by Jaish al-Islam fought off regime efforts to capture the rebel-held town of Tal a-Sawan Monday, temporarily halting the Syrian Army’s advance towards the heart of East Ghouta, a local media activist told Syria Direct Tuesday.
“The regime failed to infiltrate Tal a-Sawan,” said the pro-opposition activist, who asked not to be named, “and the Free Syrian Army destroyed a number of its units.”
The attack on Tal a-Sawan comes on the heels of the regime’s capture of the nearby industrial city of Adra, also in the Damascus suburbs, last week. Tal a-Sawan is located directly between Douma and Adra.
A spokesperson for the pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher appeared to confirm the rebel victory Monday.
“The regime lost a large number of troops in Tal a-Sawan,” the spokesperson said over social media.
The official state news agency SANA claimed victory in Tal a-Sawan on Tuesday, saying “the army controls Tal a-Sawan and the fields in the surrounding area.”
Coalition strikes IS across Syria
Coalition warplanes continued to strike the oil-rich eastern province of Deir e-Zor Tuesday, hitting the Islamic State controlled town of Shamiyeh in the western countryside of the province several times, resulting in an unknown number of casualties, reported the Deir e-Zor Local Coordination Committee.
An estimated 13 fighters from the Islamic State were killed in coalition airstrikes Monday on an IS-controlled building in Aleppo province, according to the pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
IS scoops up villages near Iraq border
The Islamic State wrested control of four villages near the Iraqi border town of Al-Yarubiyeh in northern Syria from Kurdish fighters Monday in an attempt to besiege the crossing and secure another passage into Iraq, reported the monitoring group Syria Observatory for Human Rights.
“IS now controls 11 villages surrounding Al-Yarubiyeh,” Ahmed al-Ghanam, a pro-opposition media activist based in Al-Hasakah, told Syria Direct Tuesday, “and have killed at least 76 Kurdish fighters using tanks and armored vehicles.”
Located in northeast Al-Hasakah province, the Kurdish-controlled Al-Yarubiyeh border crossing is situated on the most direct route between Syria and the Iraqi city of Mosul, which IS seized in June.
Coalition airstrikes also targeted the vicinity of Al-Yarubiyeh on Monday, resulting in an unknown number of causalities, reported the pro-opposition National Syrian Media Center.
As of publishing, IS is battling Kurdish forces as they attempt to advance and capture the town.
The fighting escalated Sunday when IS detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint leading to the border crossing, which was quickly followed by a full-fledged assault, reported the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya News Channel.
IS is edging closer to a Syrian-Iraqi border town. Photo courtesy of @Chara_fc.
Nusra accuses Lebanon of cooperation with Assad
Lebanese security forces handed over 10 wanted Syrian refugees to the regime in a secretive deal after Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Muallem visited Beirut on an undisclosed date, Jabhat a-Nusra said in an announcement widely circulated on social media Monday.
“This matter will have repercussions for the Lebanese security services,” warned Nusra, adding that the deal comes amidst “increasing pressure [from the Lebanese government] on Syrian refugees in order to force us to execute your sons [Lebanese soldiers captured by Nusra in August] and hence justify a Lebanese military campaign” against them.
The Lebanese General Directorate of Security said they did not hand over the wanted Syrians. The security agency “categorically denies these allegations, totally devoid of truth,” which are part of a “campaign that is targeting the Lebanese state, and its security and military institutions,” in remarks published Tuesday by the official National News Agency.