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September 13-19, 2014

Media Monitoring for Syria
Posted on September 19, 2014

Compiled by Asad Ali Walji


Central Syria (Homs and Hama)
Renewed Fighting as Rebels Attempt to Advance
  • Hama – Jabhat al-Nusra was amassing forces planning to assault the Hama military airbase, but Syrian Army Forces preemptively attacked villages under Islamist control dealing a heavy blow to the group
    • This map shows the progression of the government assault over the last month, Islamists losing large amounts of territory and some rebel forces being isolated from the rest of the Islamist forces
  • Homs – previously the stronghold for rebel forces, since the abandonment of the city by rebel groups to Aleppo, Assadist forces have been trying to stamp out remnants
    • This new assault dealt a heavy blow to the remaining forces as well as scores of civilians
  • SANA (state-owned media) reported enthusiastically on how government forces had discovered weapons caches in Homs and killed many terrorists in the process
Damascus
Non-Aggression Pact between ISIS and Syrian Rebel Forces
  • Heavy airstrikes continue in the Jobaar neighbourhood of Damascus, as government forces have been trying to stamp rebel factions out of the city suburbs for the past few months
    • There have been intense clashes especially as of late
  • As the situation becomes increasingly dire for rebels in the district, there have been reports that IS and SRF have come to a truce in the area brokered by Jabhat al-Nusra
    • SRF commander, Jama Maarouf denied these reports in a tweet but it would not be the first time that the rebel group has made strategic alliances with rival factions depending on the context of the fighting taking place
  • Jabhat al-Nusra has also announced that it will initiate Operation Piercing Meteor, an assault bent on breaking the regime siege in Southern Damascus. This will be conducted in alliance with Islamist groups, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham
  • Besides reporting the deaths of many terrorists in the suburbs of Damascus, they reported the destruction of a tunnel system in the outskirts of the city “used by terrorists” for resupplying equipment
  • Fearing the advancement of Islamic Front factions and the spread of Islamists, the government has closed all roads (Qudsayya Now, local media) from Damascus suburb, Qudsayya
Ar-Raqqa – IS Prepares for Looming Arial Assault from United States
  • Anticipating continued heavy air strikes from the Syrian Air Force and looming fear of US airstrikes, IS has decided to take preemptive measures in the Islamist stronghold
    • IS has begun evacuating civilians out of the city, moving hospital patients to Turkish hospitals
    • Reuters reports that IS has begun taking tactical measures to keep on the move
    • IS has also spread out heavy weaponry (CBC.ca)
  • Fears of IS ability to defend themselves against air strikes have risen after the group shot down a Syrian Air Force jet over the stronghold province
  • SANA (state-owned media) reports on a meeting with an number of members of the parliament, People’s Assembly stating clearly that terrorism will be defeated in ArRaqqa
Deir-Ez-Zor
Government Airstrikes and Spec Ops Continue Disrupting IS and Civilians
  • The Syrian army successfully carried out a covert special operations mission, destroying a key bridge that was used by IS to deliver supplies to main forces in the city
  • “The bridge served as the only supply route to the city due to a blockade by the regime on the city’s remaining outskirts” (Institute for War Studies)
Idlib Province
Clashes between Jabhat al-Nusra and Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF)
  • Last week, Sham Legion leader, Al-Hamwi was killed by a suicide bombing, leaving a volatile situation in the area
    • Group forces pledge allegiance to new leader, Sheikh Abu Jaber (Opposition force media - Ahrar ash-Sham)
    • The weakening of the group’s leadership could foreshadow the group’s disintegration into smaller factions
  • Clashes between SRF and Jabhat al-Nusra erupted in the town of Hasfarjah (Institute for War Studies). On September 18th, the two factions came to a truce
Intense Clashes between Islamic State and Kurdish Forces across the Country
  • There has been a surge in violence between Islamists and Kurdish forces, with the Syrian Air Force getting involved sporadically
  • On September 16, Syria Deeply (opposition media) reports that Kurdish forces made progress in repelling the advances of IS in majority-Kurdish Hassakeh province
    • In their advance, accusations massacres of civilians by the YPG with the help of government forces while capturing Arab villages in the area
  • However, three days later Syria Deeply reported the opposite, that in the Northern city of Kobani, West of Hassakeh province, IS had successfully taken 21 villages and besieged the mainly Kurdish city itself
    • The Turkish border has become an extremely active territory of the conflict, with many refugees attempting to seek refuge in the neighbouring country (Washington Post)
    • To stop this advance by IS, YPG appealed to other armed forces for support, international or Kurdish PKK (The Guardian)
    • A video by the YPG controlled city, Ayn al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish) is also under attack from IS
Daa’ra, Quneitra
Islamist Factions Make Gains in the Area, Other Rebel Factions Pledge Support
  • Islamist forces are launching a fresh offensive in the Southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra
  • Jabhat al-Nusra is leading the offensive attempting to push towards Damascus
  • Other groups included in the Islamic Front coalition participated in the advance
    • Most interestingly, the SRF (Western-backed) helped the Islamists in the advance; this would not be the first time
  • In response to these advances, the Syrian air force conducted air raids in Daraa, using internationally denounced barrel bombs as a primary weapon, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Both in Daraa and Quneitra, there has been a surge in air bombings
  • The fighting situation has already spilled across the border to neighbouring Lebanon (Daily Star, Lebanon)
  • SANA reports on a countrywide offensive including in the south, “killing many terrorists” but not specifying the use of barrel bombs but specifying the deaths of Jabhat al-Nusra members.
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