By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
This week, two of Syria’s Opposition groups launched new campaigns against the Assad regime in southern Quneitra province.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) aligned Southern Front has attacked regime positions not far from Quneitra city at Tel Al-Buzaq, Tell Kroum, Jaba and Tel Shaar.
Opposition Southern Front Launch New Anti-Assad Campaign from Their Command Centre in Quneitra
Quneitra city is largely empty after it was abandoned following the 7 Day War with Israel and the Opposition will be turning their attention to Ba’ath city, the new provincial capital, the town of Khan Arnba and the Liwa 90 Army base.
Capturing all of these would effectively remove the Assad regime from the province.
The Syrian Government claims it has beaten back the assault, “killing 200 terrorists”, but this does not square with reports on the ground or from Israel where the Iraeli Defence Force (IDF) are able to watch events from the Golan Heights.
Heavy battles can be seen in this video footage, HERE: and clashes at sunset near Tel Al-Buzaq, HERE:
To the north of Quneitra province near Mount Hermon, a second Opposition grouping of Islamic brigades and including the Al-Nusra Front, have surrounded the Druze village of Al-Hadar and captured a nearby hilltop.
After taking control of Tulul Al-Humur the Opposition also gained a stock of regime SA-7 Manpads ground-to-air missile units.
This area of Quneitra is seen as the first line of defence for Damascus city and if the Opposition overrun it, it will mean that it can supply the areas they still control in Western Ghouta, south of the Syrian capital.
In Aleppo city, Opposition fighters have this week captured all of western Al-Rashidin district and parts of the Al Jazira area which surrounds Assad’s Aleppo Military Research Centre. A report from the area, (Arabic only) is,HERE:
Latest reports suggest that the Opposition are also advancing in Aleppo’s western Khalidiya district, HERE: and once again attacking regime positions due north of Aleppo city in the village of Bashkoy.
The Opposition destroy an Assad 23mm gun in Bashkoy with a TOW missile, HERE: and capture some parts of the area, HERE:
On the borders of Deraa and Suweida provinces, Opposition fighters continue to attack Tha’lah airbase, HERE: and HERE:
And in Idlib province the Opposition took the village of Ziyadah Qibliyah earlier in the week from where they are in a good position to attack the regime positions around the Thermal Power Plant on the Ghab Plain, HERE:
There have also been clashes on the frontline at Tall Waset on the Ghab Plain, north-west of Kafranbel, HERE: and they made a good job of destroying a regime tank hiding under a shelter, HERE:
In the south-west of Idlib province, this footage shows interesting action with a night-camera, HERE:
FSA Fires Rockets At Assad Positions in Quneitra 17.06.15
In Latakia province, the Opposition made this fine hit on a regime outpost with a recoilless gun,HERE:
While in Damascus there are even more signs that the Assad regime is preparing for retreat from outlying provinces and for the defence of the capital. On Monday and Tuesday around 500 homes in Darraya near the Mezze airbase were demolished.
Activists said the homes were destroyed in the neighbourhoods of Khaleej, Corniche Al-Jadeed and Mashraq and the destruction included the demolition of 5 mosques.
50,000 people used to live in the quarter, where the Al-Sadeq al-Amin mosque and the Sharaf Specialized Surgical Hospital, as well as several nurseries and schools, were.
Residents have been evicted en-masse and sent outside Damascus or have fled abroad.
Darraya district, which is still controlled mainly by the Opposition though under siege for 2 years, is 8 miles to the south-west of the capital and very near a cluster of Army bases. You can read more in NOW Media.
NOW also reports on how the Druze minority in Syria now find themselves, as a Shia offshoot sect, between “ a rock and a hard place”. If they don’t follow Assad’s Shia Alawites who will defend them? If they do follow Assad he is most likely to just use them as “cannon-fodder”. You can read more, HERE:
The BBC reports on how many Afghan families are in distress not knowing what has happened to their loved-ones. Many travel to Iran looking for work but end up being paid to go to Syria and fight Assad’s war – and never return.
At the UN General Assembly yesterday, Thursday, more than 70 countries signed a letter to the UN Security Council demanding an end to Assad’s use of barrel-bombs and in Cairo on Wednesday Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is reported to have told a visiting delegation from Lebanon headed by their Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, to “brace themselves” and be ready “for the fall of Assad”.
(EDITOR: We all sincerely hope so – as soon as possible!)
KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 103: YPG/FSA PUSH ON FURTHER SOUTH TO SECURE ROJAVA, WHILE LINK-UP ALLOWS MAJOR SUPPLIES TO ARRIVE IN KOBANE CITY:
In an operation to make Cizire and Kobane even more secure from Islamic State (IS) incursion, the YPG launched an operation on Wednesday evening from 2 directons going southwards from Silûk to tighten its hold on the M4 highway and roads coming northwards from Ain Issa and Raqqah.
YPJ Fighter Overlooking Kobane City
Yesterday the YPG liberated the village of Qantariyê and further to the west Faraj and another unnamed village.
An IS military vehicle was destroyed in the operation and 5 x IS Jihadists were killed.
Also in the last 48 hours the Combined YPG/FSA force has liberated the villages of Sekhra, Khazuga, Til Tewîla, Ca’fer, Bîr Etîyê, Genterî, Tirwazîye, 15 more unnamed villages and an electricity sub-station on the M4 highway.
25 x IS fighters are recorded killed in these battles and 4 members of the YPG/YPJ.
12 kilometres to the south of Silûk near Nevala Hutê the YPG have also discovered a mass grave of IS executed victims.
IS launched an attack on YPG positions at Sikêniyê, south-east of Tel Berak on Thursday night but after a counter-attack 2 x IS Jihadists were killed and the rest driven back.
Not surprisingly, morale among IS fighters is reported to be low and while they are taking defensive measures, for example digging in along the canals north of Sharakak, it is clear they are not the fighting force they were once thought to be.
The Huffington Post interviewed former residents of Tel Abyad, now resident in Turkey, at least temporarily, about life under the Islamic State and their mixed responses are interesting and worth reading.
In this video an FSA commander of the Liwa AL-Tahrir brigade fighting with the Kurds in their joint YPG/FSA force responds to the accusations of “ethnic cleansing”, (English subtitles), here:
There is also an interview with a YPG commander, Bilal Rojava, on the same subject, HERE:
Al-Monitor has a long but interesting interview with a Turk who got drawn into fighting for the Islamic State but was recently injured and captured by the YPG. He goes into great detail about the whole IS operation, HERE:
Between last Monday and this morning, Friday, US Central Command (Centcom) reports 21 airstrikes in Syria, 14 of them near Tal Abyad, Hasakah or in Kobane Canton.
Armoured Vehicles Captured from IS Arrive in Kobane
Altogether in those locations the Coalition destroyed 4 x IS fighting positions, 6 vehicles and an excavator, 2 x IS tunnel systems, 2 x IS antenna arrays, 1 heavy machine gun, 1 x IS mortar position and an IS weapons manufacturing building.
The Coalition also hit 3 large IS tactical units and 7 others of varying sizes.
The unification of Kobane and Cizire Cantons led to more celebrations and a big parade in Kobane this week, with more YPG fighters meeting old friends from the opposite Canton, HERE:
The clearing of roads between Cizire and Kobane has also led to a convoy of trucks and tankers driving to Kobane city bringing fuel and food supplies, HERE: plus some heavy armoured vehicles and tanks captured from IS in Cizire Canton.
For more excellent photographs by Maryam Ashrafi of the YPJ like the one on this page, go HERE:
Rojava Situation Map for 18.06.15, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here:
Rojava Situation Map 18.06.15