Even as the Assad regime puts out PR that it is secure in an important airbase in southern Syria, newly-posted video testifies to the challenge that it faced earlier this month to hold onto the position.
On Sunday, State TV highlighted images of high-ranking officers visiting the al-Thala base, on the border of Daraa and Suweida Provinces, which is home to warplanes such as Su-24 fighters.
Ten days ago, the Southern Front rebel coalition threatened to take over al-Thala, following its capture of the nearby Brigade 52 army base. Fighters took nearby villages, and even moved into part of the complex. However, amid airstrikes and ground resistance that included tanks, the rebels pulled back.
Local sources subsequently said that the attack had been halted by foreign officers at a Jordan operations room, who had not been informed of the rebel offensive, because of sensitivities over entry into Suweida Province with its large Druze religious community. They said the Southern Front was negotiating with Druze leaders, to encourage the withdrawal of their militia who were fighting alongside Assad forces.
Footage of Syrian troops facing the attack:
Reports: Kurds & Rebel Allies Push Islamic State out of Brigade 93 Base in Raqqa Province
Claims are circulating that Kurdish militia and Free Syrian Army allies continued their advance against the Islamic State on Monday, capturing the Brigade 93 base in Raqqa Province in northern Syria.
In the past month, the Kurdish-FSA alliance has closed a 90-km gap between the Kurdish cantons on the Kobane and Cezire cantons along the Turkish border, taking the town of Tel Abyad last week.
The Brigade 93 base, claimed by the Islamic State last August from the regime, is only 55 km (33 miles) from the militants’ Syrian center in the city of Raqqa.
Tal Abyad / Gire Spi Map. Ayn Isa is surrounded as Brigade 93 is captured by the Euphrates Volcano advance. pic.twitter.com/PY2SZDAjnn
— Karybdis (@Karybdamoid) June 22, 2015
— Jack Shahine (@jackshahine) June 22, 2015
Opposition Coalition: Kurdish Militia Blocks Fact-Finding Committee from Tel Abyad
The externally-based opposition Syrian National Coalition claims the Kurdish YPG militia blocked a fact-finding committee from entering the town of Tel Abyad on Monday.
The committee was established to investigate claims of the forced displacement of Arab families by the Kurdish forces as they advanced on Tel Abyad. The town, near the Turkish border, had been held by the Islamic State since last year.
The claim came as about about 2,000 residents returned to the area from Turkey as a border gate was reopened.
The committee began work on Saturday, meeting dozens of displaced families from Tell Abyad and surrounding villages.
Activist: Regime Threats to Break Hunger Strike By 700 Detainees in Hama Prison
Jawad al-Hamawi, the director of the pro-opposition Hama Revolutionaries Union, says that officials are threatening to break the hunger strike of almost 700 detainees in Hama Prison.
The detainees stopped eating last week to protest sentences, including death penalties and life terms, recently handed down to 45 prisoners involved in revolutionary activity.
Al-Hamawi says threats have included the use of bullets, but the orders to fire were blocked by aid organizations and the Red Cross.
Russia Supplying New Advanced Communications-Jamming Equipment to Syria?
Oryx Blog considers whether Russia is supplying new communications-jamming R-330P platforms to the Assad regime:
The presence of just one of these vehicles could have a significant impact on the ground, making it impossible for the rebels to coordinate their attacks and communicate with each other over the radio, thus possibly thwarting any rebel offensive….
Even in the face of recent setbacks for the Assad regime, it is clear that not all cards have been played yet. While the R-330P platform is not a directly lethal weapon, the far-reaching consequences of utilising such a system is affirmed by rebel offensive successes in Eastern Ukraine, which reportedly made heavy use of electronic warfare (EW) systems and thus completely denied their opponents the ability to communicate and coordinate operations.
Video: Barrel-Bomb Explosion in Hama Province
Moment of barrel-bomb explosion in Lataminah in northern Hama Province on Monday:
Report: Fighting Between Kurds and Assad Militia in Qamishli in Northeast
The pro-Assad al-Masdar News reports, from “multiple sources”, fighting between the Kurdish militia YPG and Syrian militia in the city of Qamishli in northeast Syria.
The website says the YPG and the National Defense Forces fought in the industrial district overnight, with mortar attacks and sustained gunfire until sunrise. It also says there were street fights near the al-Bashir Mosque, with at least four Syrian militiamen wounded.
Tension rose last week after a brief exchange of artillery shells in western Qamishli, followed by the YPG’s takeover of a Ba’ath Party building.
Qamishli in the largely-Kurdish area of northeast Syria near the Turkish border, but the Syrian military has maintained its presence in the city during the four-year conflict.