By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2/)
Despite recent advances in Homs province, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Syrian military is spread extremely thinly as the Opposition forces open numerous active fronts across the country.
With Assad forced to save face to defend his Alawite heartland in Latakia, where the FSA are now reported to control 11 villages, the Syrian Army has had to send reinforcements, drawing strength away from Homs, Idlib, Hama and Damascus.
FSA Tear Down Assad Portraits at Ba’ath Party HQ Deir El-Zour
Taking advantage of this, the Opposition fighters have upped the fight in numerous locations, especially in Deir El-Zour where they now control 70% of the city, leaving the Government with just 5 districts and the very large airport area..
Over the weekend Opposition fighters took control of the Government’s Ba’ath Party headquarters in the Al-Houwayqa district of the city and the Governor’s Palace, destroying official portraits of the current and past presidents, HERE:
The Opposition also gained control of the Osman Bey Bridge which connects with the island part of the city in the middle of the Euphrates river, HERE: and engaged in heavy combat with the remaining regime troops, HERE:
Opposition fighters killed at least 7 Government soldiers and captured others in their offensive against the northern districts of the city, while Government jets pounded Opposition positions on the eastern side of Deir El-Zour.
Substantial reinforcements have also been sent from the eastern Syrian countryside to boost the Opposition attack on the city, as can be seen HERE:
IN LATAKIA OPPOSITION FIGHTERS JUST 5 KILOMETRES FROM ASSAD MAUSOLEUM AND PRESIDENT’S ANCESTRAL FAMILY HOME:
In Latakia there are conflicting reports of Opposition progress, the regime claiming that they have regained control of the villages of Obin, Khirbet al-Baz, Isterba, Blata and Iramo.
Hopefully Assad About to Waked Over
While the Opposition are undoubtedly under pressure as the regime floods the area with reinforcements, General Idris, the FSA’s Commander of its Supreme Military Council, was confident enough to visit Latakia yesterday, Sunday, talking to fighters in the Kafr Dalba area of the Jabal al-Akrad mountains(Arabic only) HERE:
Making it clear that this was a serious offensive, the General, dressed in civilian clothes, said, “We are here today to reassure everybody that the… (FSA) General Command is coordinating completely and continuously with the leaders of the coastal front. We will continue to work intensively”.
Showing that they mean business, the Opposition fighters are reported to have destroyed an army-convoy near village of Beit Alchukouha and to have seized an ammunition depot, HERE:
The Government has retaliated by arresting people in the Sunni town of al-Haffa and bombing Opposition held territory. 20 people were killed in a jet strike on the village of Salma, including 10 civilians, and 10 fighters. The rocket attack struck a large apartment block blowing-in the outside walls.
In its usual repetitive burble, the Assad regime claims that it has “restored security and stability to more areas in the northern countryside of Latakia” but the Opposition say their fighters are a mere 5 kilometres away from the Assad ancestral home at Khardaha.
In Latakia city, security forces were seen and heard to shoot in the air to clear the way for ambulances rushing to hospitals carrying wounded from the front, HERE:
Al Jazeera has an overall video report, HERE:
Young FSA Fighters Take A Break
In Idlib province, Opposition fighters attacked a Government military convoy near Ariha heading to the battlefield in Latakia’s coastal mountains, while in Deraa to the far south they blew up buildings belonging to the transport battalion, HERE: and advanced yet further into the regime held district of Manshiah in Deraa city.
Deraa province fighters also laid siege to an Assad regime border post on the frontier with Jordan, eventually capturing it along with the hotel next door.
INCREASING DIVISIONS BETWEEN OPPOSITION BRIGADES AND KURDS BUT FSA REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE IN HOMS:
In Raqqah city, residents were subjected to another vicious regime air strike on a residential area, killing at least 13 people, including 6 children. There have also been daily demonstrations against the extreme Islamist group Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIS), which largely controls the whole of the provincial capital.
ISIS are believed to be responsible for the detention of Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit Priest, who was arrested at the beginning of August while trying to negotiate a hostage exchange. Unconfirmed reports this morning, Monday, say that he has been executed.
In Homs the struggle against the overwhelming odds of the combined force of Assad’s Army backed up by Hezbollah, continues but the Tawheed Brigade have managed to send in reinforcements,HERE:
Since the destruction and recapture of the former Opposition held district of Khalidiyeh, according to this short Al Jazeera video report, Opposition fighters have rained more than 50 mortar shells on Government areas, HERE:
FSA Fighter Celebrates Eid With Children
In Damascus, Opposition forces are definitely fighting back, despite heavy regime bombardment on the Sunni districts of Barzeh, Qaboun and Erbeen.
In this video footage, Opposition fighters are seen on the offensive in the Qaboun neighbourhood last Friday, (though view with caution, dead bodies), HERE:
At Qalamoun, activists say an Opposition brigade successfully attacked another Syrian Army convoy, this time heading in direction of Homs with 7 low-loaders (carrying tanks), all of which were destroyed.
At Qatanah in the Damascus countryside, Opposition fighters revealed a vast store of anti-tank missile launchers which they captured after they overran the 7th Division headquarters, HERE:
Heavy clashes between the 2 sides are also reported in the district of Al Ghizlanieh, which is just west of the capital’s International Airport.
In Aleppo province, ongoing fighting is reported in and around the Quwaires Air Force base with the Opposition reported this morning, Monday, shooting at helicopters with anti-aircraft guns as they try to take off.
Despite controlling much of the north and east, new divisions have broken out between Opposition forces and the Kurds, who now seem to be in direct conflict with the Jihadists of ISIS.
ISIS, in unconfirmed reports, are said to be holding more than 200 Kurds hostage and even that the FSA recently handed over to ISIS 15 Kurds detained near Aleppo. This puts the 3 groups on a collision course, when in fact they should be united in their enmity towards Assad.
The Kurdish leader in Iraq, Massoud Barzani, has issued a warning that Kurdish fighters from all over the Middle East will come to the aid of the Syrian Kurds if they are threatened. Al Jazeera has a video report on the growing divisions, HERE:
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), their records indicate that up until the 8th August 106,423 people have now been killed since the conflict began in March 2011.
In addition to this economic and financial restraints are making life very uncomfortable for the living too, as the Economist reports, HERE:
But in the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan business is expanding as every day it becomes like a permanent city, HERE:
Lastly though, some people “just go with flow” as can be seen in this good-humoured exchange between a Sunni Opposition commander and an elderly Alawite man, whom they provide with food and shelter in a Latakia village, (English sub-titles), HERE: