New Fu’ah and Kafraya ceasefire; executions at Abu al- Duhur

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Last weekend, elements of Jaysh al- Fatah vowed to renew their offensive against the government-held pocket of Fu’ah and Kafraya. Towns within the pocket have been bombarded by surrounding opposition forces. The rebels dedicate their operations to their allies encircled by SAA and Hezbollah in Zabadani.

An unclear number of civilians and militia defenders remain inside, supplied by airdrops. Two separate ceasefires broke down last month over walk-out terms. Since then, the besieging forces continued applying pressure to the pocket. The fall of Abu al- Duhur airbase last week dominated opposition channels, but troops kept massing around Fu’ah and Kafraya. Jabhat al- Nusra, Jund al- Aqsa and other Islamist factions attacked the towns early in the week.

To the west, scattered fighting and shelling continued in the Latakia Mountains. Jabal al- Turkmen was reported bombed after clashes.

On the coast, Russian equipment deployed to Basel al- Assad airport. Satellite images appeared to show of T-90 tanks, artillery guns, armored personnel carriers and base housing, according to The New York Times.

Pro-government Al-Masadar News wrote that 650 Russian marines arrived on the coast. The professional soldiers would advise the National Defense Forces in Latakia, Tartus and Homs, the article said. It also confirmed the existence of Russian T-90 tanks garrisoned in government strongholds. Russian satellite inteligence was also credited in increasing the effectiveness of governmnet forces. The site also published Bashar al- Assad’s interview with Russian media. He’s quoted as saying the best way the west can to help refugees is to “stop supporting terrorists.”

Russian officials rebuked the escalation claims of Pentagon spokesman Geoff Davis. Former Russian Ministry of Defense chief Leonid Ivashov called Davis’s statements “fictional Western propaganda.” He also added, “Building military installations and signing agreements on military-technical cooperation with sovereign states is our legitimate right and no one has the right interfere in that.”

Another former defense ministry official was cited by Sputnik as saying an airbase project makes “no sense.” He added that Russian personnel might perhaps be renovating an existing airstrip for humanitarian purposes. These developments have not escaped the rebel attention.

On Thursday, opposition forces outside the Fu’ah pocket took action.

Attacking al- Suwaghiyah and Deir al- Zaghab, the mostly Islamist factions closed in. Two cars bombs cleared the way for tanks and storm troops to advance across the open terrain. Government warplanes harassed rebel positions, whose artillery shelled heavily to cover the advancing fighters.

‘Elephant’ rockets fired into Fu’ah pocket. 

Two car bombs open up areas for attack. 

Ahrar al- Sham tanks and infantry rush defensive lines.

Uzbeck group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad attacks with Jaysh al- Fatah.

 

Another VBIED detonated upon the defenders. 

Abu Bara reports from Fu’ah frontlines. 

While the fighting was ongoing, images surfaced that appeared to show government prisoners from Abu al- Duhur airbase. Opposition forces overran the base last week, taking much of the garrison hostage.

Saturday night, another ceasefire was announced for Fu’ah, Kafraya and Zabadani.

Opposition forces continued the fight across the mountain front in Latakia. Intriguing planes made an appearance above on Sunday.

First Coastal Division fires on government forces at Nabi Yunis.

Jets in formation. 

For background about Jaysh al- Fatah, check out last week’s writeup. (Links from September 8 – 14)

Start at the beginning with my fall of Idlib post. (Links from 2011 – Summer 2015)

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