Syria Direct: News Update 4-7-15

Opposition brigades renew push to Damascus

A coalition of rebel brigades won control of a town and several nearby military checkpoints from the regime in northern Daraa province on Monday, as rebels continue to battle Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in their push towards Damascus, a spokesperson for one of the rebel groups told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Rebel fighters, including Jabhat a-Nusra, managed to “completely liberate” Kafr a-Shams on Monday, said the spokesperson for the rebel brigade Alwiyat al-Furqan.

Kafr a-Shams, situated between Daraa, Quneitra and Outer Damascus, is a key town in an area rebels consider a gateway into Damascus.

The local pro-opposition Kafr Shams Media Center confirmed the rebel takeover of Kafr a-Shams and government checkpoints, adding that the regime dropped at least 15 barrel bombs and launched five airstrikes on the town Monday.

By taking Kafr a-Shams, rebels plan to move on the nearby city of a-Sanameen, which Iranian and Hezbollah forces have turned into a regime stronghold.

Meanwhile, more than 150 Iranian and Hezbollah snipers reportedly arrived in the area as reinforcements on Monday, reported the pro-opposition Shahid Media Foundation.

0407KafrShamsRebels capture regime checkpoints in northern Daraa. Photo courtesy of Morasil Al-Janoob.

Rebels release 200-300 Kurds in prisoner exchange

The rebel Sharia Court in a-Dana city in Idlib released between 200 to 300 Kurdish young men on Tuesday who were arrested by rebels earlier that day while traveling by bus from Afrin to Aleppo and Damascus, reported pro-opposition Siraj Press.

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) negotiated with the court, with al-Jabha a-Shamiya moderating, to secure the release of the Kurdish young men. In return, the YPG released three rebel fighters it had detained on Monday, reported Siraj Press.

While Kurdish sources reported that Jaish al-Islam fighters arrested the young men, other sources reported that the responsible party was Jabhat a-Nusra, according to pro-opposition All4Syria.

Rebels allowed women and children off the bus before taking the men to a-Dana.

Rebel infighting in Arbin  

Feilaq a-Rahman attacked Ahrar a-Sham al-Islamiya positions in Damascus’ East Ghouta suburbs Monday before other rebel brigades intervened and stopped the fighting, reported pro-opposition All4Syria. 

As of publishing, neither side has issued an announcement on the reason behind the clashes in Arbin city, in which no one appeared to be killed.

The cause may be related to escalating tensions between Ahrar a-Sham al-Islamiya ally Jabhat a-Nusra, and Feilaq a-Rahman ally Jaish al-Islam around Damascus, unnamed sources were quoted by pro-regime al-Hadath News as saying.

Jaish al-Islam issued an announcement Sunday strongly condemning Nusra’s recent cooperation with the Islamic State in Yarmouk Camp.

Several opposition news agencies reported that Jaish al-Islam fighters assisted Feilaq a-Rhaman in their attack on Ahrar a-Sham al-Islamiya.

While Feilaq a-Rahman is part of the Joint Command, formed in August 2014 to unite rebel brigades in East Ghouta and streamline military and judiciary efforts, Ahrar a-Sham al-Islamiya is not.

IS launches rockets in east Hama

The Islamic State launched rockets into the regime-held city of Salamiya in east Hama province in a renewal of its attacks on the regime’s Hama-Aleppo supply line on Monday, reported the local pro-opposition Hama News Center.

The mixed Sunni, Alawite, and Ismaili city is a hub on the regime’s only open supply line between Hama and Aleppo.

The same road also splits and links Hama to IS-controlled A-Raqqa province, approximately 100 km to Salamiya’s northeast.

The attacks killed eight and injured at least 30 others, reported the pro-regime Salamiya City News Network.

In recent months, the Islamic State has been harassing regime positions along the same supply route with hit-and-run attacks.

For more from Syria Direct, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.