Syrian army recaptures key sites in Homs

In what appears to be a harsh blow to the Syrian armed opposition, five of its leaders have been killed, four in Aleppo alone.

al-monitor A damaged mosque building is seen at Mahin town, in Homs province, after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad took control of it from rebel fighters last week, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency, SANA, Nov. 18, 2013.  Photo by REUTERS/SANA.

Topics covered

syrian regime, syrian rebels, syrian opposition, syrian civil war, fsa, aleppo

Nov 18, 2013

These are perhaps the fiercest confrontations since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. The ongoing battle for Aleppo has become more important than ever for both the regime and the armed opposition. This is evidenced by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announcing a general mobilization and the participation of senior FSA leaders in the clashes. In the past two days, five leaders of various FSA brigades and battalions have been killed, four in Aleppo alone.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Yusuf al-Abbas, also known as Abu al-Tayyeb, a leader in the Tawhid Brigade, was killed in a raid targeting a military base at Aleppo’s northern entrance, which opposition gunmen have controlled for almost a year. That report was confirmed by the official Syrian news agency SANA, which announced “the elimination of Tawhid leaders on a road in al-Muslmiyya in the Aleppo countryside.”

A video uploaded to the Internet showed Tayyeb’s alleged corpse after it was transported to his hometown of Marih in the Aleppo countryside. Tayyeb had been driving his car in Marih inside the base when a raid killed him and wounded Tawhid’s most prominent military commander, Abdul Qader Saleh, in addition to another officer, Abdel Aziz Salama. Two more officers were killed in battles in the eastern part of the province. Tawhid then arrested 30 people on charges of collaborating with the regime.

On the other hand, the opposition’s Aleppo Network News said that the airstrike targeted military bases north of the city. That happened in conjunction with the bombing (using with locally-made rockets) of brigades and battalions located around al-Nairab military airport and the Aleppo international airport.

Yesterday [Nov. 15], there was also news about clashes near Brigade 80, which the Syrian army captured. The Observatory said that the gunmen were able to “gain control of the three factories near the airport and Brigade [80].” The opposition’s Sham News Network reported shelling on al-Rashidayn neighborhood, the area of Tal al-Sheikh Yusuf and the neighborhoods of Qustul Harami, as well as violent clashes in the neighborhoods of Salah al-Din, the radio station, Boustan al-Qasr, Mount al-Shuwaihna and the transportation building in al-Naqarin.

According to SANA, the town of Tall Hasel in the southern countryside is now under the Syrian army’s control. SANA also reported hits against high tension lines in the city as well as against the repair shops to deprive the economic capital, Aleppo, of electricity.

In Damascus, mortars and explosions rocked the old city yesterday, where three people were killed and 22 were wounded after some shelling and two bombs exploded on Mardam Bek Street and in the neighborhood of al-Kallasah near the Umayyad Mosque in the Hamidiyya market, while the tense situation continued in the Kassa and Bab Touma areas.

The towns of Beit Hasm and Bila are witnessing clashes between the remaining FSA gunmen and the Syrian army, which is trying to advance toward these sites, after it restored its control over the towns of al-Sbayneh and Hujaira. This came at a time when Qalamoun was being bombarded while the Syrian army took control of sites near the towns of Qara and Jabal Mouhin, overlooking the ammunition depots in Homs, according to what a security source told Agence France-Presse.

The source pointed out that this region controls and overlooks the ammunition depots. That allows the Syrian army to monitor any movement around the ​​warehouses and to control them.

A statement by the general command of the Syrian armed forces said, “After a successful operation and careful tactical maneuvers, Syrian army units succeeded yesterday morning in tightening their control over the towns of al-Hadath, Houarin, Mouhin and the nearby warehouses in southeast Homs.”

The statement added that the strikes were directed against armed groups that “had aggressed against the civilian population and some military sites in the region. [The Syrian army strikes] led to the elimination of a large number of terrorists and mercenaries, and to the destruction of hundreds of vehicles equipped with various weapons.”

On Nov. 6, gunmen took control of parts of the large warehouses storing Syrian army weapons near the town of Mouhin in Homs, after battles that lasted for more than two weeks, dubbed “The doors of God do not close.” Participating in those battles were gunmen from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra and the Green Battalion.

At the same time, the FSA leadership in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp said in a video statement that they accepted the initiative to keep the camp neutral and empty it from armed movements by all parties, allow displaced persons to return and hand over its management to civilian committees from the Palestinian Liberation Organization. This means that calm has finally returned to that area, which was subject to enormous bombardment and destruction.

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