LATEST: Insurgents Promise Attacks in Damascus, Warn Civilians to Avoid Checkpoints and Military Facilities


Syria and Iraq Analysis: Deceptions of the “Fight Against the Islamic State”

Syria’s Assad regime has tried to curb unease over inflation, shortages, and crippled public services with a “monthly compensation” to both State and non-State workers.

The compensation of 4000 SYP (about $20), promised to State employees by President Assad last weekend, was extended to the private sector on Thursday. It has been exempted from any tax deductions.

The regime is trying to cope with shortages of oil, gas, and food this winter. Infrastructure has been damaged by the 46-month conflict, and the Islamic State has taken most of Syria’s oil and gas fields. The Syrian currency is under pressure, having officially lost more than 75% of its value since 2011, and subsidies have been cut on essential items.

The regime has appealed to Iran to extend a $3.7 billion line of credit, due to end soon, but the Islamic Republic is facing its own economic problems amid internal mismanagement and US-led sanctions. Damascus is also that Russia, essential to Assad’s economic as well as military survival, will provide more assistance.

See Syria Daily, Dec 22: Assad Hosts Iran’s Speaker of Parliament — But No Word on More Aid from Tehran

On Friday, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi did photo opportunities at bus and petrol stations, bakeries, gas cylinder distribution centers, bakeries, and firefighting centers in Damascus to reassure Syrians over the availability of fuel: “All the necessary materials of gas, diesel and gasoline will be available in the market in the next few days, and will be supplied in accordance with the demand.”


Insurgents Promise Attacks in Damascus, Warn Civilians to Avoid Checkpoints and Military Facilities

The insurgent faction Jaish al-Islam, heralding attacks in Damascus, has declared a curfew and warned civilians to avoid military installations and checkpoints from Sunday.

The message was also posted on the Twitter account of Zahran Alloush, the head of Jaish al-Islam and military commander of the Islamic Front.

A Jaish al-Islam fighter said insurgents will also continue shelling and firing of rockets on regime positions, such as the attacks in the Mezzeh area of Damascus that began on Wednesday.

Lebanese Soldiers Killed in Fighting on Syria Border with Islamists

A Lebanese security source said at least three soldiers were killed and seven wounded in fighting with Islamists on the Lebanon-Syria border on Friday.

The source said another soldier is missing, with at least nine Islamists killed. The Lebanese military used heavy artillery and helicopter gunships in the clashes in northeast Lebanon.

The Army said it recaptured the area of Talet al-Hamra, on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, after the Islamists briefly occupied it.

On Wednesday night, four attackers were killed when they tried to infiltrate the Wadi Hmeid checkpoint in nearby Arsal, and the Army said they attempted to drive a bomb-rigged car into Lebanon on Thursday.

There has been fighting between Lebanese forces and the Islamists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra since last August, when the assailants briefly held Arsal. Scores of fighters and civilians were killed, and more than 30 Lebanese security personnel — four of whom were later executed — were abducted.

At Least 50 Killed by Barrel Bomb on Damascus Suburb of Hamouriyah

Activists report that 53 civilians, many of them children, have been killed by the barrel-bombing of the suburb of Hamouriyah (see map), northeast of Damascus.

The names of 43 of the victims have been posted.

Warning — Graphic Images:

Video has also been posted of civilians, including children, killed by bombing of Dael in Daraa Province in southern Syria.

Names Posted of Scores of Victims of Regime Barrel-Bombing in Northeast

The Local Coordinating Committees has begun posting the names of 75 victims of regime barrel-bombing of a sheep market in Khansaa in Hasakah Province in northeast Syria.

Syrian warplanes hit the area, occupied by the Islamic State, on Tuesday.

See Syria Developing: More than 75 Dead, 100+ Wounded in Regime Barrel-Bombing in Northeast