By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2)
Fighting between the Kurdish YPG militia and Islamists from the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and the State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), has escalated and is ongoing.
Having driven them out of the border town of Ras Al-Ain in Hasaka province and away from the crossing point into Turkey, the YPG have pushed on to remove the Islamists from their base in the village of Qasrouk with losses on both sides and the destruction of 2 ANF vehicles.
Islamists Clash With Kurds in Ras Al-Ain
Further clashes between the 2 sides are now being reported in the villages of Tal A’lo, Karhouk and Agha and in the Al-Sweidiya and Rmeilan oil fields in the region.
Traditionally a Kurdish area, there have been suggestions that the Islamists have been selling oil through middlemen to the Assad regime and buying weapons with the profits, breeding resentment among local people.
Islamists in turn are often condemning of the Kurds more liberal interpretation of Islam, including the formation of female fighting units.
There is also an unconfirmed report that an Islamist brigade has kidnapped 19 Kurdish university students on the Tal Tamer – Al-Hasaka road and taken them to an unknown location.
The ANF and ISIS are addtionally being reported to be shelling Kurdish militia positions in Ras Al-ain, some rocket propelled grenades hitting a border post on the Turkish side. Turkey will be even less happy with the YPG in charge as it sees them allied to the Kurdish separatist movement in its own country and denominates them as “terrorists”.
So far the fighting between the 2 groups around Ras Al-Ain has cost the lives of at least 19 Islamists and 10 Kurds.
OPPOSITION FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO ADVANCE IN ALEPPO, RETAKING PARTS OF THE OLD CITY:
In Aleppo, the Opposition fighters continue to advance with reports that they have retaken the Karaj Al Sfahiyeh and Khan Al-Bersham districts of the Old City, sneaking into Government buildings and attacking the Syrian Army stationed there with rocket propelled grenades.
You can see members of the Tawheed Brigade creeping into the grounds of a Government building which still flies the Assad state flag, HERE:
In western Aleppo, the Free Syrian Army is shelling Khan Al-Asal, while the Syrian Air Force bombs Opposition positions in nearby Rashidin. There is also heavy fighting in the north-west of the city at Qadisiyah. This video shows an Opposition fighter using a formidable weapon to target Assad positions in Seif al Dawla from a high vantage point, HERE:
FSA Prepare a Mortar Shell in Idlib
Assad’s Air Force is also using heavy machine guns to try and kill fighters besieging the Aleppo International Airport, Quwaires airbase and the city of Al-Bab, injuring a number of them.
In turn the Opposition used a captured tank to shell the Mennegh airbase yesterday to the north of Aleppo, HERE:
An unconfirmed report this morning, Friday, says that 42 Opposition fighters have been killed by regime forces east of Castilo in Aleppo province. Further details awaited.
In Homs, Government shelling on Opposition held areas both in and around the countryside near the city continues, but fighters are managing to hold their ground, eliminating 12 member of Assad’s militia in fighting on the edge of Khalidiya district.
In Idlib province 5 people, including an elderly man and woman, were killed when 4 Government missiles landed on the centre of the city of Saraqeb, injuring a further 10 children and 7 women. Residents are still looking for survivors trapped under the rubble of the destroyed buildings, HERE:
One more unconfirmed report says that Opposition forces have destroyed yet another Government convoy as it tried to break through towards Aleppo on the Ariha – Latakia road. So far the Opposition have held their blockade of the main highway to Aleppo, preventing Assad from re-supplying his forces trapped in Syria’s largest city.
4 Government rockets are also reported to have exploded in the industrial area of Deir Ez -Zour and large parts of the city have now been reduced to rubble as can be seen, HERE:
Zatari Refugee Camp – 120,000 Plus
Reports from Damascus this morning say that Opposition brigades have targeted with 120 mm mortar shells, the State Security Branch 285 in Kafarsouseh and the radio and television building in the downtown Umayyad district of the capital, reputedly get direct hits on both.
They have also targeted the Scientific Research Centre in eastern Damascus with Katyusha rockets, HERE:
The regime assault on Jobar and Qaboun continues with missiles causing major destuction in both areas. This video shows an attack on Tuesday, HERE:
There is also a report that 5 Government soldiers were killed this morning when they stormed a booby-trapped house in Qaboun. Yet the worst incident was when 6 men from Barzeh seeking to move cattle through a checkpoint on the edge of Qaboun were at first given the all clear to advance and then gunned down by Government troops.
This video (EDITOR: Warning, very distressing) shows dead men and animals on the ground with live cattle wandering among them and forlorn calves sitting next to their dead mothers, HERE:
AS US AND UK “PIROUETTE” INDECISIVELY ON SYRIA, REFUGEES DEMAND OF US KERRY “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”:
On the international front, it is depressingly clear that the United States and the United Kingdom, recently a staunch supporter of arming the rebels, are prevaricating and backing away from doing any such thing, both Governments under pressure from elected politicians.
Malik al-Kurdi, the deputy commander of the FSA, said in an interview, that the West had sent “clear messages” that arms would only be forthcoming if the FSA agreed to fight Islamist extremists.
A Woman Hangs Out Washing in Camp in Iraq
“The message has been clear that only if the FSA fights the radical groups then they will get weapons. But that’s impossible because it will only create more conflict within the armed groups,” Kurdi said in a telephone interview with the Lebanese Daily Star talking from Istanbul.
His boss, Brigadier General Salim Idriss, the FSA commander in chief, is due in the USA for a visit next week.
Senator John McCain, a strong supporter of US military action in Syria, described General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as “pirouetting” in his on/off attitude to a military solution to the conflict while questioning him in Congressional hearings on Thursday.
Similarly, Britain’s outgoing army chief, General David Richards, said that a no-fly zone was not possible without activity at ground level to take out the regime’s defences and a lack of international consensus was preventing that.
John Kerry Flies Over Zatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
Meanwhile, President Obama’s Secretary of State for Defence, John Kerry, visited the sprawling Zatari refugee camp, housing almost120,000 residents, half of them children, in Jordan yesterday.
Angry residents told him that the US should set up no-fly-zones and safe havens for the millions of displaced Syrians.
“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?” one Syrian woman told Kerry. “The US, as a superpower, can change the equation in Syria in 30 minutes after you return to Washington.”
Al Jazeera has a video report on some of the Syrians in the camp, especially teenagers and children, who are suffering depression and anger, HERE:
The World Bank yesterday approved a loan of $150 million to Jordan to help it cope with the supply of health care facilities and materials and basic commodities to the refugees.
Leila Zerrougui, the United Nations’ special representative for children and armed conflict, said in Beirut on Thursday after a 3 day visit to Syria, “Syria will have to face a generation of children who lost their childhood, have a lot of hate and are illiterate.
She related the story of Abdullah, a 9 year old who was orphaned by the war and was bundled into a van with strangers by his uncle whom he saw shot as they drove away. Ending up in Beirut he was put to work by a criminal gang selling flowers and gum and regularly beaten up if he did not bring in enough money.
Abdullah is now safe in a church-run shelter, the House of Hope, but there are tens of thousands like him without proper care, education or protection. Bashar Assad you have a lot to answer for. You can read more from Associated Press, HERE:
Children Stuck in Bab Al-Salam Camp, Syria