Syria Military Round-Up, Oct 16: Attacks In and Near Damascus

LATEST: Reports Of Clashes Between ISIS and FSA’s Northern Storm Around Azaz

SUMMARY: The Assad regime continued its bombardment of Damascus suburbs on Tuesday, while insurgents hit back by firing mortars into the capital.

There were also reports of a mosque in the al-Tadmon neighbourhood, south of Damascus, at the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The Syrian military pressed its campaign to claim territory and open routes south and southwest of the capital, with bombardment of Daraya and Moadamiyyat Ash Sham.

An airstrike on Daraya on Tuesday:

Meanwhile, concern grew over more than 1000 civilians evacuated by Syrian authorities from Moadamiyyat Ash Sham last weekend. Activists said they had no news of where the people, including many women and children are being held, and reported that at least 10 boys had been taken away for interrogation and had been abused.

State news agency SANA said 10 civilians were wounded by a bomb in the al-Mazzeh section of Damascus, while 12 were injured in mortar attacks in al-Midan and al-Kanawat.

Four citizens were injured by mortar shells fired by terrorists on the citizens’ houses in the residential al-Kanawat neighborhood in Damascus. Mortars were also fired on al-Abbasyeen.


Harakat Ahrar Ash Sham Claim To Use Tank To Blow Up Regime Tank

Ahrar Ash Sham propaganda video claims to show the faction using a tank to destroy a regime tank near Al Mastouma in Idlib Province (click for map).

In Aleppo, Local Groups Organize Dancing — With Giant Blue Bunny — For Eid

A rather non-traditional but captivating sight in this Aleppo mosque on Wednesday — as children dance at an Eid celebration and are joined by a large, blue sandal-wearing bunny.

Fire Breaks Out In Raqqa’s Firdous District After Regime Shelling

A large fire has broken out in a residential building in Raqqa’s Al Firdous district, the result of heavy regime shelling. Civilians are trying to put out the fire.

Reports Of Regime Forces Using Women, Children As Human Shields To Invade Moadamiyyat Ash Sham

Citizen journalists are reporting that regime forces are using women and children as human shields as they try to invade the West Ghouta town of Moadamiyyat Ash Sham from the west. We are waiting for more information about the claims. There is footage of fighters from the Free Syrian Army escorting civilians, including older people, out of an area on the outskirts of the town.

This 12 second video of Free Syrian Army insurgents escorting women and children away from the area was posted on Wednesday morning:

Claimed footage of FSA fighters escorting civilians captured by regime forces:

Unconfirmed Reports Of Turkish Tanks Shelling ISIS Positions Near Azaz

Update 2: More reports emerging of tensions along Turkey-Syria border as Turkish forces fired on ISIS on Tuesday:

Update: Turkish news source Millyet reports on the tank shelling. No other Turkish sources are reporting the incident as far as we have seen.

Earlier on Wednesday, we noted unconfirmed reports that Turkey has shelled ISIS positions in Azaz from across the border on Tuesday.

Kurt Pelda offers more information:

Pelda’s report matches local reports which said that ISIS fired artillery onto a checkpoint on a hill above Azaz, and then took over the checkpoint.

ISIS Video Shows Jihadis From Kazakhstan — And Their Families — In Syria

An ISIS propaganda video, widely circulated on Russian-language pro-jihad sites, shows a group of ISIS fighters from Kazakhstan in Syria. Unusually, the men are with their families and the video footage shows a large group of women and children present in what appears to be a large villa with a swimming pool that has been converted to a base and residence. The location is not clear but it the villa appears to be a residence in Aleppo Province captured by ISIS earlier this year after fall of Menagh Airbase. The children are shown reciting the Quran, as are some of the men.

One man, named as Abu Khaled Al Kazakhi, explains in Russian that he has responded to a hadith which calls on Muslims to wage jihad. “This should be enough for any believer,” he says, adding: “I cried after the fighting — why — because I thirst for death more than I thirst for life. We have come here to wage jihad… Enshallah, we thirst for death on this path and that Allah will bring our martyrdom and allow us into paradise.”

Reports Of Clashes Between ISIS and FSA’s Northern Storm Around Azaz

There are reports of more clashes on Tuesday between Islamist faction the Islamic State of Iraq and Ash Sham and the Free Syrian Army’s Northern Storm Brigade and the Tawheed Brigade around Azaz and Mount Prusaya (جبل برصايا) in the Kurdistan region along the Syria-Turkey border.

According to the Facebook page of youth opposition activists in Azaz, ISIS captured a checkpoint on Mount Prusaya from Northern Storm:

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Some local outlets cite an announcement by the commander of the Tawheed Brigade which stated that Tawheed fighters were killed and wounded after ISIS launched artillery strikes on the checkpoint. Several displaced persons living in a nearby camp were also injured, according to reports.

The statement by Tawheed condemns ISIS’s actions around Azaz, and notes that Tawheed is not a party to the conflict between ISIS and Northern Storm but a mediator, whose role was to try to broker a ceasefire.

Footage from Tuesday shows smoke from some of the shelling:

Casualties

The Local Coordination Committees claim 71 people were killed on Tuesday, including 26 in Damascus and its suburbs, 13 in Aleppo Province, 12 in Daraa Province, and 11 in Deir Ez Zor Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records that 75,966 people have been killed since March 2011, a rise of 87 from Tuesday. Of the dead, 56,639 are civilians, an increase of 41 since yesterday.

Joanna Paraszczuk is EA WorldView's Managing Editor. An Israeli journalist, she covered Iran and the Arab World for The Jerusalem Post. Previously, she lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine. Joanna speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian and reads Persian and Arabic.

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