LATEST: Regime Forces Move into Sheikh Najjar Industrial Area Near Aleppo


Video Analysis: Why Islamic State’s “Caliphate” Is a Marketing Ploy

UPDATE 1630 GMT: The Deir Ez Zor Coordination Committees say that Islamic State fighters have entered the towns of Mayadin and Ishara in eastern Syria after insurgents withdrew from the area.

The Islamic State also claims that it has captured the Omar oilfield, one of Syria’s largest.

Insurgent factions in northern and eastern Syria, fighting both the Assad regime and the Islamic State, have issued an ultimatum to their military and political leaders.

The groups, locked in battle with the Islamic State since January, said they were running short of weapons and ammunition.

Therefore, the factions declared:

We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions…give the National Coalition, the interim government, the Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid.

Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters.

In a video circulating on-line, a group of tribal elders declared, “The clans of the city of Ishara, and the villages around it…and all of the factions in these areas…announce before God that they will cease fighting with the Islamic State”:

Insurgents in northwestern Syria have pushed the Islamic State out of most areas. However, the Iraqi-led group holds Raqqa, the largest city outside regime control, in north-central Syria, and it has pressed the insurgency with the capture of towns and villages in the east.

The Islamic State is now threatening to move into Deir Ez Zor city, where insurgents are also trying to fend off President Assad’s forces.

The Syrian National Coalition has been appealing to the US to step up military assistance, with its head Ahmed Jarba meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia last week.

So far, the appeal has had only token success, with President Obama saying that he would ask Congress to authorize $500 million in aid.

Regime Forces Move into Sheikh Najjar Industrial Area Near Aleppo

Both pro-regime and pro-opposition outlets say Syrian forces moved into the Sheikh Najjar industrial area near Aleppo on Thursday.

A citizen journalist said:

The area was exposed to more than 20 air raids this morning, which coincided with the regime gaining control of wide parts of the industrial city, especially industrial area 3.

They are now moving to gain control of the entire industrial city.

The regime has tried for months to seize the industrial area, home to several factories. Its capture would also further the Syrian military’s goal of cutting off insurgents in the eastern half of Aleppo city.

Is Obama Administration Considering Alliance with Assad?

The Daily Beast declares, “There’s a battle raging inside the Obama administration about whether the United States ought to push away from its goal of toppling Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and into a de facto alliance with the Damascus regime to fight ISIS (the Islamic State) and other Sunni extremists in the region.”

The evidence for the claim is thin, except for this dramatic quote from a “senior Obama administration official who works on Iraq policy”:

Anyone calling for regime change in Syria is frankly blind to the past decade; and the collapse of eastern Syria, and growth of Jihadistan, leading to 30 to 50 suicide attacks a month in Iraq.

Residents: Islamic State Cuts Electricity in Raqqa During Ramadan

Residents in Raqqa in northern Syria say the Islamic State, which controls the city, is cutting daytime electricity during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Islamic State is reportedly imposing the ban to follow the example of the Prophet Mohammad, who lived 1,400 years ago.

Residents say entertainment like internet and television are important to cope with 13-hour fasts in the heat of summer, and air conditioning is vital for groups like the elderly.

One resident said, “ISIS fighters informed us about this fatwa via mosques.”

Asked the reason for the fatwa, Islamic State members said, “You are not better than the Prophet and his companions, who were living without electricity or any entertainment to alleviate heat and make them forget their thirst.”

Ramadan began on Sunday and lasts until July 28.

Rumors That Islamic Front’s Alloush Severely Wounded, After Insurgents Evict Islamic State from Town in East Ghouta

Rumors are circulating of further clashes after insurgents evicted a group of Islamic State fighters from Midaa, a town in the East Ghouta area near Damascus.

Al Manar, linked to Hezbollah, claims the Islamic Front’s military commander Zahran Alloush was severely injured in shelling by the Islamic State.

Last week Al Manar declared that scores of Alloush supporters were killed and wounded in a suicide bombing by the Iraqi-led group.

Alloush told a press conference last week, after the Islamic State’s declaration of a Caliphate across Iraq and Syria, “They are dirty bastards, with an evil ideology.”

An insurgent said the victory in Midaa was costly: “The IS was able to kill dozens of Jaish al-Islam and other groups’ fighters as a result of the ambushes they set.”

Human Rights Watch: Women Detained & Abused by Regime Forces, Islamic State, and Insurgents

Human Rights Watch, profiling 17 Syrian women who are now refugees in Turkey, highlights detention and abuse by regime forces.

The 47-page report, “We Are Still Here: Women on the Front Line of Syria’s Conflict”, also claims violations by the Islamic State and by insurgent factions such as Liwa al-Islam.

Activists and humanitarian aid providers said they had been threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and tortured. All six former detainees who are profiled have experienced physical abuse or torture in detention; one woman was sexually assaulted multiple times.