The head of President Assad’s air defence forces, General Hussein Ishaq, has been killed in fighting in the key Damascus suburb of Mleha.
A “security official” confirmed on Sunday that Ishaq died in an insurgent attack on Syrian air defence headquarters near the suburb.
The death is not only a high-level blow to the organization of the Syrian military. It is a headline PR defeat for the regime’s proclamation that it will soon “liberate” areas near Damascus.
The Syrian military has been trying for months to re-capture Mleha, a gateway to the East Ghouta region. Assad’s forces briefly reached the center of the town earlier this month, but were soon repulsed and took heavy casualties in an ambush as they retreated.
Devastation in the town on the 48th consecutive day of bombardment:
(PHOTO: Insurgents repulsing regime forces near Mleha)
Up-Close Video: Regime Barrel Bomb Strikes Damascus Suburb of Darayya
A cameraman is close to a regime barrel-bombing of Darayya, southwest of Damascus:
The regime has been pounding Darayya and areas across Daraa Province, trying to check recent insurgent advances.
Video: Insurgents Advance in Northwest Aleppo, Take Base of Pro-Assad Iraqi Militia
Continuing their advance in northwest Aleppo, insurgents have taken the base of a pro-Assad Iraqi militia, Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas:
The base (see map) is not far from a “Military Research Center”.
Photos: Assad Always in Picture as Challenger Campaigns
Prominent activist “The 47th” notices that, as businessman Hassan al-Nouri campaigns for the June 3 Presidential election, Bashir al-Assad is never far away:
— The 47th (@THE_47th) May 19, 2014
Opposition’s Defense Minister Resigns
Asaad Mustafa, the Defense Minister for the opposition Syrian National Coalition, has resigned after six months in his post.
Mustafa came under pressure in March after the dismissal of General Salim Idriss as head of the Supreme Military Council. However, opposition sources gave different explanations for his resignation on Monday — one said he was protesting a lack of funds for insurgents from Coalition President Ahmed Jarba; another said Mustafa was upset that Jarba refused to appoint him as provisional Prime Minister.
Mustafa was Agriculture Minister under President Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, but defected in 2011.
Campaign Poster: “If Not for Assad, This Country Would Have Been Burnt”
Report: New ISIS Declaration of War Against Islamic Front
Journalist Hassan Hassan reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham has issued a new declaration of war against the insurgent bloc Islamic Front:
ISIS releases detailed fatwa about the Islamic Front, declaring it a murtad (apostate) and declare formal war on it http://t.co/qP82D9H3gU
— Hassan Hassan حسن (@hhassan140) May 18, 2014
The Front and other insurgents have been fighting ISIS across northern and eastern Syria since January. ISIS has been pushed out of many areas, but retains control of the city of Raqqa and has been pursuing an offensive in the east.
Speaker of Parliament “We Need Every Honest Vote” in Presidential Election
Is there a hint of pleading in this call by Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Jihad al-Laham for a high turnout in the June 3 Presidential election “Syria is in need of every honest vote for the ballot boxes as well as for every Syrian on the field, at factories, schools, universities and in all domains of life.”
Al-Laham said during a Parliamentary session on Sunday that those would did not vote “would be abandoning their national mission and relinquishing their duties at a time when the homeland and martyrs’ families are calling for them”.
President Assad is facing two nominal challengers in the ballot.
State media continues its barrage of stories of rallies supporting Assad’s forthcoming victory. This morning’s include declaration of gatherings in and near Damascus pledging votes to the President “who reflects our aspirations for victory and recovery”.
Video: Assad Forces Launch Counter-Offensive in Daraa Province
President Assad’s forces have been counter-attacking in Daraa Province in southern Syria, following weeks of insurgent advance between Quneitra and Daraa.
The Syrian military has been bombarding a series of towns, notably Nawa, north of Daraa.
Footage from Friday: