By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)
In the last 48 hours heavy fighting has been reported around the Division 17 Syrian Army base north of Raqqah city in north-east Syria.
Opposition Fighter Burns Assad Regime Flag in Aleppo
Although Raqqah city has been under Opposition control for some time, the Army base to the north of it has stubbornly resisted siege. On Wednesday Opposition forces launched another attack and are now moving forward inside the base, HERE:
So far the Opposition fighters have captured the munitions store below the watertower and are currently attacking the officers housing complex, using their own tanks and field guns, HERE:
The battle has not been without cost. Assad’s Air Force bombed Opposition positions inside the base yesterday and a total of 24 Opposition fighters are so far reported killed.
However, attempts to reinforce the remaining Government troops with supplies failed as the parachutes drifted into the hands of the Opposition. At the time of writing the remaining Government forces are holding out but a conclusion to this battle is expected soon.
In Deraa city at the opposite end of the country to the south, fierce battles are continuing in the eastern part of the regional capital where Opposition fighters are advancing in the Tariq al-Sadd district towards the Central Prison.
A Government convoy sent to reinforce positions at the prison and coming from an air base to the south-east of the city, was intercepted and 3 BMP armoured vehicles, 2 armed pick-ups and 20 troops destroyed.
In Hama province, where Opposition areas have been subjected to constant air attacks, a barrel-bomb dropped by helicopter on KfarZita town did not explode. Local people bravely dismantled it, HERE:
DEATH OF RESPECTED OPPOSITION COMMANDER LEADS AT LAST TO DECLARATION OF UNITY FOR FIGHTING GROUPS AROUND ALEPPO:
In Aleppo, fighting also continues around the Base 80 area just north of the International Airport and activists report that 15 members of Assad’s National Defense Force (NDF) were killed in clashes.
Opposition fighters also repulsed a major regime assault on their positions at the Ummayad Mosque, continuing the destruction of much of its ancient infrastructure, HERE:
The recent death of the esteemed and well respected leader of the Liwa Al-Tawhid Brigade, Abdul Qader Saleh, may not have been in vain. This morning, Friday, news has emerged from Aleppo of the merging of 6 of the Opposition’s most important and more moderate factions.
Dubbed as the “Islamic Front”, Abu Firas, spokesman for Liwa Al-tawhid, said that besides his own brigade, the others were Ahrar al-Sham, the Army of Islam, Suqour al-Sham, Liwa al-Haq and the Ansar al-Sham battalions. All the groups are moderate Islamist.
Hopefully, this will bring a turn around in the fortunes of the Opposition, as much of Assad’s recent gains have been put down to opposition disunity.
The Jihadists however continues their selfish destruction, alongside one report that they have cut down a 150 year old tree because locals “were worshipping it instead of Allah”.
And yesterday, Thursday, the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), is reported to have pushed a moderate Opposition Islamic group, Suqur al-Islam, out of a key Idlib province border town on the frontier with Turkey.
The town, Atma, was vital in the importation to Syria of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, weapons, ammunition and aid for the displaced.
However Mustafa Waddah, the head of Suqur al-Islam, is said to have confiscated 7 truck loads of weapons for himself, sent across the border by General Idriss for wider distribution. Some accuse the FSA and ISIL of colluding in the take over.
GREED LEADS TO THE CREATION OF WARLORD “MONSTERS” ON BOTH SIDES IN SYRIA, WHILE ASSAD WORRIES ABOUT “INVADING ARMY FROM JORDAN”:
This brings to the fore, the other major problem in Syria of Opposition brigade leaders turning into Mafia style warlords, milking the local area to enrich themselves and their followers.
This long but interesting report describes how various Opposition groups are now positioning themselves to control oil-fields and wheat supplies and ripping apart the old state run structures, imposing their own authority, HERE:
There are just as many “monsters” forming on the other, pro-Assad side it seems. This report describes how a former civil servant is now a local commander of a Baath Brigade, sporting bling and expensive smartphones and riding in an upmarket SUV.
Opposition Groups Fighting Each Other for Control of Oil
The author of the article, Edward Dark, concludes “that civil wars were definitely the worst type of war. They spawn monsters and make beasts out of ordinary men”. And asks questions that apply to these “commanders” on both sides: “How will these people ever go back to civilian life when this is all over? How can they help rebuild a shattered nation?”
You can read more, HERE:
Lastly, indications that the Assad regime is under strain, fearing increased Opposition numbers while desperate for new recruits.
According to the Al-Joumhouriya newspaper, President Assad told a group of visiting Lebanese March 8th politicians that “a [rebel] army of 20,000 soldiers is being prepared in Jordan under international and regional supervision.”
Apparently, Assad went on to say, “This army might attack Daraa and try to advance in order to make up for the [Oposition’s] losses in Damascus’ outskirts and to re-encircle the capital.”
True or not he is perhaps reacting to reports of increased support for the Opposition from Saudi Arabia after the failure of the US to strike against Assad’s military.
Additionally, reports from inside Syria say that tHe High COmmand of the Defense Ministry and the National Army has opened its doors to volunteers who hold a basic certificate in education or higher to become “commandos” in the special forces. Contracts are for 2 years and subject to renewal if requested.
Hearing the news, the FSA issued a statement warning that any person who join the regime forces be it in the Commandos or special forces or Shabiha (armed militia) would
automatically become a direct target for Opposition fighting battalions.
A picture from Syria to raise the spirits a little – “Brothers in Grime” ….
“Brothers in Grime”