Syria Direct: News Update 4-23-15

Rebels target “Branch of Death” intelligence officer in Damascus car bombing

FSA-affiliated rebels claimed responsibility for blowing up a military intelligence officer’s car at a checkpoint near Damascus’ Presidential Palace in revenge for those tortured and executed by military intelligence, the Abdal a-Sham brigade said in a statement circulated on Wednesday.
 
“The car of an officer in Branch 215  was observed for several days, and Abdal a-Sham’s sleeper cells placed a bomb on the car. After the car reached a place where there were no civilians the bomb was detonated,” Abu al-Bardawi, a spokesperson for Abdal a-Sham, told Syria Direct.
 
“[Wednesday's] operation comes on the heels of the identification of Dummar neighborhood residents among the Caesar photos and the arrest of nearly 550 people from the same neighborhood by the branch,” he continued, referring to photos of dead Syrian detainees leaked by a government defector codenamed Caesar.
 
Abu al-Bardawi said that he could not confirm the number of injured or dead because security forces cordoned off the area after the attack.
 
The Military Intelligence’s 215 Branch, which is tasked with carrying out raids in Damascus, is dubbed “the Branch of Death” by the opposition and has been accused by Human Rights Watch of torture. 

Airstrikes, shelling on Douma and Harasta

Regime warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes in the East Ghouta cities of Douma and Harasta Wednesday, killing and wounding dozens of civilians in what some pro-opposition channels have termed a “massacre.”
 
More than 45 were wounded in the attacks in rebel-controlled Douma city, most of them women and the elderly, Abu al-Hassan al-Andalusi, an employee with the Unified Medical Office in Douma who is responsible for counting the wounded and dead, told Syria Direct Thursday.
 
Six died in the attacks, reported the Douma LCC, which included artillery shelling as well as airstrikes.
 
In neighboring Harasta, ten were killed and more than thirty wounded in the airstrikes, reported the Medical Office in Harasta. 

Regime reportedly targets hospital in east Aleppo countryside

Regime warplanes reportedly targeted a hospital in the Islamic State-controlled city of Deir Hafir in the eastern Aleppo countryside Wednesday, killing 23 civilians and wounding dozens, according to pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center.
 
The area was free of IS soldiers, activists were quoted by pro-opposition Siraj Press as saying.
 
Opposition media outlets reported that the regime utilized vacuum missiles in the attack, a claim which could not be verified.
 
In related news, 15 children were wounded by airstrikes on the city of Tel Ahmar located near Deir Hafir in the eastern Aleppo countryside, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.
 
“Units with the army destroyed the dens of takfiri terrorist organizations in the villages” of Tel Ahmar and Deir Hafir, among other villages in the eastern Aleppo countryside, reported Syria official news agency SANA News on Thursday.

Regime targets hospital in the eastern Aleppo countryside. Photo courtesy of Halab Today TV