LATEST: Video — Residents Recover Bodies After Regime Shelling of Raqqa
Insurgents took the major prize of Menagh Airbase this week, and are now looking to clear pro-regime forces from other positions in Aleppo Province to clear the way for a possible move on Aleppo city. Footage on Friday showed insurgents firing rockets on two key pro-Assad Shia villages, Nubl and Al Zahraa, while some factions began to speak of a move on Kwieiris airbase.
Meanwhile, a notable feature of Friday protests across Syria was a celebration of a week-long offensive in northern Lattakia Province, in which insurgents have captured regime-held villages and military posts. The Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra claimed the storming of shabiha [pro-regime militia] positions, and capture of villages including Barudah and Durin taking large quantities of weapons, from “the nests of the regime” to “weaken its power”.
Screenshot of Wikimapia map showing location of captured villages of Isterba, Durin and Baruda in the coastal mountains of Lattakia:
The Free Syrian Army issued its own statement declaring that its aim was not to target civilians but to protect them from regime forces, attack security checkpoints, observation posts, military barracks, and pro-regime militia.
Video: Friday protest in Tel Rifaat, Aleppo Province, celebrates the Lattakia offensive:
Free Syrian Army forces entering the village of Khairat
The FSA said that its hospitals would admit all wounded people, regardless of whether they are civilians or soldiers.
It backed up the declaration with a video of an FSA commander in conversation with an Alawite elder.
The opposition Syrian National Coalition got in on the act with praise of the FSA for the pledge to protect civilians and families.
So a question about and beyond the offensive: is the fact that FSA and Islamist factions are both involved in the push in the coastal region an indication of continuing co-operation and co-ordination, following the success of the Menagh Airbase operation? Or is there competition between the factions? Or both?
Heavy shelling of Raqqa, the largest city controlled by insurgents, has been reported on Saturday — residents remove bodies from under rubble after one attack:
Earlier on Saturday we reported that insurgents had claimed the capture of the Baath Party HQ in Deir Ez Zor. This footage shows insurgents inside the HQ:
Insurgents celebrate the seizure of the Al-Hawiqa district this morning:
Footage from Saturday of an airstrike by a regime MiG jet in Durin, one of the villages in Lattakia captured by insurgents during this week’s offensive:
Houses in Aleppo’s Khalidiyeh district burning on Saturday as a result of regime shelling.
Insurgents in continued fighting with regime forces in Jobar:
Insurgents of Liwa al-Islam Brigade deploy tank and Shilka anti-aircraft systems amid fighting in Adra, near the capital:
Footage from Friday shows bodies of victims being recovered from underneath rubble in Salma, Lattakia province. Activists say that a Syrian Airforce Sukhoi -22 jet carried out an airstrike on the village and that as many as 20 people have been killed.
Footage of the destruction caused by the strike:
Smoke rising up from Salma after the strike:
Initial footage of the strike:
There are also several very graphic videos showing victims of the strike.
A video posted by activists on Friday claims to show insurgents in the village of Isterba in Lattakia province finding alcohol in the village mosque, which had been used as a base by Assad militias.
Criticizing pro-Assad forces and militias for performing non-Islamic acts such as drinking alcohol is a common theme of insurgent and activist footage of captured towns and villages.
There are activist reports and video on Saturday claiming very fierce clashes in Deir Az Zor’s al-Hawiqah neighborhood, with explosions from regime shelling rocking the area. This footage shows insurgents clashing with regime forces at close quarters in the neighborhood:
Activists are also reporting that the FSA has managed to capture the offices of the ruling Baath Party in Deir Az Zor.
Saturday’s clashes follow heavy fighting on Friday, including in the Al Jebaylah neighborhood where insurgents used what appear to be home-made rockets to target regime positions:
Deir Ezzor :: FSA blowes party and Insurances branches and mayor's house in Hweqa neighborhood that regime forces stationed in it #Syria
— أخبار الثورة السورية (@NewsSyRev) August 10, 2013
Footage from Friday shows the Free Syrian Army setting out in a convoy to carry out its much-publicized coastal operation:
The Local Coordination Committees claim 88 people were killed on Friday, including 24 in Damascus and its suburbs and 20 in Daraa Province.
The Violations Documentation Center puts the number of dead at 69,051 since the start of the conflict, a rise of 84 since Friday. Of these, 52,266 are civilians, an increase of 51 from yesterday.