PHOTO: Fighters from the Fateh Halab operations room inside the captured Military Research Center in west Aleppo


UPDATE 1530 GMT: Rebel outlets say that regime forces tried to recapture the Military Research Center in west Aleppo but failed on Saturday.

The Fateh Halab and Ansar as-Sharia operations rooms said they are still in full control of the complex, as clashes continue in the Manasher Manyan area and on the outskirts of the New Aleppo district.

Meanwhile, Free Syrian Army units are targeting other regime positions in al-Zahra and in al-Khalidiya with tanks, heavy guns, and rocket launchers

Rebel outlets also claim that a special unit targeted a Hezbollah convoy with three explosive devices, as the Lebanese fighters left the Military Academy in the al-Hamadaniya neighborhood at midnight. The rebels say 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed and scores wounded, as three out of five vehicles were destroyed.

A rebel tour of the Military Research Center:

ORIGINAL ENTRY: On their second day of their renewed offensive in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, rebels made a notable advance with the capture of the Military Research Center in the al-Zahra district.

The Center is a large complex at the entrance to the regime-controlled New Aleppo area in the west of the city. The rebel occupation opens up the prospect of a significant drive in the quest to reunite Aleppo, divided since July 2012.

However, the Center was also briefly taken by rebels in summer 2014. A marker of the success of this offensive will be the opposition’s ability to hold onto the complex despite the regime’s likely response of airstrikes.

Meanwhile, pro-opposition activists are claiming that the rebels have had wider success in their campaign, inflicting heavy casualties on defenders. Unconfirmed reports say Aleppo hospitals are over capacity as they try to treat wounded Assad troops.

Syrian State media finally acknowledged the offensive on Friday afternoon, but claimed that attacks had been repelled. Video showed graphic images of a few bodies to assert that many rebels had been killed.

State news agency SANA declared that, “acting upon the directives of President Bashar al-Assad”, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi visited a military unit on the frontline and then saw injured troops in a military hospital.

Halqi said, “The victories achieved on Thursday night by Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo laid the groundwork for further victories and show the significant fighting spirit of the soldiers who sent the attacking terrorists fleeing.”

On Friday, as rebels began their attacks, al-Halqi was pictured in an Aleppo market, with no reference to any fighting.

The offensive is being waged by two operations centers, Fateh Halab and the recently-formed Ansar as-Sharia, in a coordinated effort. The leading rebel faction Ahrar as-Sham is in both centers. The Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra, which was deliberately excluded from Fateh Haleb because of its links to Al Qa’eda, is in Ansar as-Sharia.

Rebels inside the Military Research Center:

The battlefield in the al-Zahra district:

Fighting in northwest Aleppo:

Rebels in Khalidiya (see map):

Map of the area, focused on the Military Research Center:

Islamic State Releases Video of Executions of Regime Soldiers in Palmyra in May

The Islamic State has released video of the execution of regime soldiers soon after it captured the historic city of Palmyra in May.

The video, almost 10 minutes long, was distributed by the Islamic State’s media site Isdarat. It shows 25 bloodied Syrians kneeling, their hands bound behind their backs, on the stage of the Roman theatre. A large black Islamic State banner hangs from the second-century ruins.

On May 27, six days after the Islamic State took the city in central Syria, reports circulated that the soldiers had been publicly executed. There has been no explanation why the video did not appear until now.


Report: Dozens of Jabhat al-Nusra Fighters Killed by Suicide Bomb in Ariha in Idlib Province

Reports are circulating that 40 Jabhat al-Nusra fighters were killed by an Islamic State suicide bomb in Ariha, south of Idlib city in northwest Syria.

Other claims say fighters of the Ahrar as-Sham faction and civilians are among the dead in the attack on or near a mosque during the iftar meal breaking the Ramadan fast.

Ariha was captured by rebels during their offensive through Idlib Province this spring.