Tweets of note - FWIW
After a meeting with @SenJohnMcCain??! #Syria|n rebels threaten to quit fight against #ISIS if they do not receive arms in a week time. #USA
Retweeted by Rami
The transloading of #Syria'n chemicals onto the Cape Ray has been completed without incident at Port of Gioia Tauro. http://ow.ly/yI6qP
Retweeted by Hannah Allam
PT: In a 26-page PDF, Jabhat al-Nusra details all its activities across #Syria, compiled from provincial accounts: https://ia902500.us.archive.org/6/items/Sha3ban1435_SH.M.M/Sha3ban1435_SH.M.M.pdf …
#Syria URGENT: 11 moderate #Aleppo and #Raqqa rebel groups need weapons and supplies now or they'll stop fighting #IS
Ambassador Robert Ford tells #c4news he left state dept because Obama policy in Syria "simply was not achievable"
#Syrian rebels threatened to lay down their arms if the country’s exiled opposition does not help them battle #ISIS http://ara.tv/y3775
As July Begins, Aid Groups Say Water Shortages Have Reached Critical Levels http://nwsdp.ly/33q-t @UNICEF @JulietteTouma #Syria
Jaish al-Islam captures East Ghouta from IS
Jaish al-Islam captured the strategic village of Medaa in East Ghouta from the Islamic State on Tuesday, reported the monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, but a Jaish al-Islam fighter told Syria Direct Wednesday that the victory was a costly one.
“The IS was able to kill dozens of Jaish al-Islam and other groups’ fighters as a result of the ambushes they set,” Abu Sabhi told Syria Direct.
Those deaths came in addition to the 25 Jaish al-Islam fighters that IS captured on Monday.
Jaish al-Islam fighters in Medaa after capturing it from IS on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of
However, “ISIS could not hold onto Medaa because of heavy attacks and an intense campaign against the village for three days, which forced them to withdraw,” Abu Sabhi added.
Medaa is considered strategic because it is an entrance point into East Ghouta. Its capture is part of Jaish al-Islam’s plan to seize control of the area from the IS.
“We will not rest comfortably until we expel the last member of IS from East Ghouta,” Sheikh Abu Abdulrahman Ka’keh, a Jaish al-Islam leader, said Tuesday, as reported by pro-opposition news group All4Syria Wednesday.
“We will follow them into every neighborhood of East Ghouta.”
IS calls for Muslims to immigrate to caliphate
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State, called on Muslims on Tuesday—through an audio recording widely circulated on social media—to immigrate to the caliphate.
“Syria isn't for Syrians and Iraq isn't for Iraqis, but it's Muslim land for all Muslims so come, O Muslims, to your state,” al-Baghdadi said, directing his call specifically at “students, religious scholars, preachers—particularly the judges among them—those with military, administrative and service experience, doctors, and engineers.”
At least one resident of the Islamic State’s current target, Deir e-Zor city, rejected the extremist group’s call. “We, like others outside ISIS, don't care what ISIS announces, or al-Baghdadi,” Deir e-Zor-based citizen journalist Abu Bakr told Syria Direct Wednesday. “We can't pledge allegiance to someone we know nothing about.”
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq released a statement on Tuesday condemning the caliphate’s announcement. The association declared that the creation of an Islamic, or non-Islamic, state or emirate in current conditions “will be used as a pretext for dividing the country, and will bring people damage and harm.”
IS released more than 100 captives in the city of Al-Bab on the outskirts of Aleppo Tuesday to celebrate the announcement of the creation of the Islamic state.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights predicted that the Al-Qaeda splinter group would release “hundreds” more in an attempt to gain the sympathy of those living under the caliphate.
Russia seeks to stop “terror” oil sales
Russia issued a draft statement this week to the UN Security Council in order prevent the sale of crude oil by “terrorist groups” in Syria, according to a report Tuesday from the official Syrian news agency SANA.
Russia’s proposal “strongly condemns any engagement in direct or indirect trade of oil from Syrian terrorist groups,” adding that such transactions constitute support for terrorism.
The Russian statement specifically mentions the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat a-Nusra, reported The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the statement Monday.
Meanwhile, France accused IS on Monday of selling oil from captured areas to the Syrian regime.
IS has a presence in several oil-rich regions across Syria and Iraq, including the eastern province of Deir e-Zor in Syria and the oil fields around Mosul in Iraq that it captured last month.
The group allegedly exports crude oil from Mosul through Syria and Kurdistan, a source to ldindependent Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News on Wednesday.
The report did not specify who purchases the oil.
Jaish al-Islam: ISIS kidnaps, kills fighters
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) captured 25 Jaish al-Islam fighters Monday in East Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, even as a fighter with Jaish al-Islam told Syria Direct Tuesday that Jaish al-Islam had thought that fighting ISIS in the area “would not expose our fighters to much danger.”
The fighting between ISIS and Jaish al-Islam in East Ghouta is part of Jaish al-Islam’s larger plan to gain control over the area by targeting the town of Medaa, south of Douma, where ISIS is weaker.
“We began the battle with Jaish al-Islam [there] for two reasons,” Abu Subhi, a fighter with Jaish al-Islam in East Ghouta told Syria Direct. “One, because we wanted to put pressure on ISIS in the south of Douma away from its military positions and two, because we thought it did not expose our fighters to much danger.”
Meanwhile, ISIS reportedly executed an undisclosed number of those captured fighters along with a media spokesperson for Jaish al-Islam Monday, reported pro-opposition news outlet All4Syria Tuesday.
ISIS recaptures border town from FSA
ISIS captured large swaths of the Syrian border town of al-Bokamel on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, while other opposition sources claim that the Islamic State took the town in its entirety.
The announcement comes after a weekend of heavy fighting between rebels, led by Jabhat a-Nusra, and ISIS for control of al-Bokamel that began on Saturday. The town falls along the Syrian-Iraqi border that ISIS captured last week, a victory that has allowed the group to shuttlegoods and fighters between the two countries.
Islamic State fighters after recapturing al-Bokamel. Photo courtesy of
Several sources, including pro-Islamic opposition a-Dorar network, reported that heavy fighting broke out again in Bokamel Tuesday morning as the battle for full control of the town continued.
Also on Tuesday, ISIS captured the town of al-Kasar, site of a Jabhat a-Nusra base located to the north of a-Shuail in Deir e-Zor province, while advancing towards the latter.
Sunni militants attacks Samarra
Sunni militants reportedly attacked the al-Askari mosque in Samarra late Monday night, targeting one of the most sacred Shiite shrines in Iraq and threatening to escalate the sectarian conflict in the country, reported Egyptian news al-Mokhtasr Tuesday.
A major bombing at the same shrine in 2006 was the primary cause for a sectarian war between Iraqi Sunni and Shiite that quickly followed, killing thousands and sending the entire country in disarray.
Four mortar shells struck the shrine and its gate, killing and injuring an undisclosed number of people, according to a report on Tuesday from local Iraqi pro-regime news agency Nisirayah.
The city of Samarra, located 125 kilometers north of Baghdad, has been a primary concern of both Iraqi and US officials.
“Everyone understands that Samarra is an important line,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week in his visit to Baghdad.
ISIS fighters breached the city in early June but retreated after Iraqi forces came to reinforce security around the city and the shrine.
Tentative ceasefire in Waer
Rebels and regime forces have reportedly agreed to a 20-day ceasefire in the embattled neighborhood of Waer in Homs city, with a pro-opposition activist telling Syria Direct on Monday that “negotiations with the regime continue.”
“All of the rumors floating around about the failure of the negotiations are not true,” said Hassan Abu Zein, a pro-opposition activist in Homs.
Waer, located in the northern part of Homs, is the last opposition-controlled neighborhood in the city.
“We confirm that the negotiations are ongoing, and that there are some differences and some points that we are still working out,” Abu Zein said, “in order to find a solution and give new life to the citizens here.”
The agreement will take place in three stages, reported pro-opposition news source All4Syria on Sunday, and reportedly includes a ceasefire and a list of weapons and defectors in the neighborhood that will be used to determine the release of prisoners on both sides.
“The new agreement begins with a ceasefire for 20 days, then continues for three months,”reported pro-regime news outlet Syria News last Friday.
In early May, rebels in 13 neighborhoods of Old Homs surrendered their positions after two years of being surrounded by the regime, leaving Homs almost exclusively in government control.
Aid enters Waer following a temporary ceasefire. Photo courtesy of @AljadeedNews.
FSA expels ISIS from border town
Fighting for a Syrian-Iraqi border town in east Deir e-Zor province broke out Sunday night after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) reportedly drove the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) out of al-Bokamel over the weekend, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday.
The fighters were reportedly led by Jabhat a-Nusra, who launched a major campaign against ISIS in al-Bokamal on Saturday, according to pro-opposition news source Syria News.
The town of al-Bokamal is located on the Syrian side of the Syria-Iraq border that ISIS reportedly took control of last week. The border, which ISIS had been attempting to seize for several months, allows the passage of fighters and supplies across the two countries.
The eastern, oil-rich province of Deir e-Zor has been a battleground between ISIS, the Free Syrian Army and the regime for several months.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) formally announced the declaration of a Caliphate (Islamic state) over an audio recording released on the Internet on Sunday.
The Islamic State will require the allegiance of all Muslims - not just those in Syria and Iraq where ISIS is currently based - said Abu Muhammad, the spokesperson for ISIS, in the declaration. Current ISIS leader Abu-Bakr Baghdadi will assume the title of Caliph (Islamic leader) and rule the new state, according to the statement.
Iraqi army claims Tikrit city entrances
The Iraqi army has reportedly gained control over the western and southern entrances to the Iraqi rebel-held city of Tikrit, an unnamed officer told AFP Monday, adding that “we have taken over the main road leading into the city.”
The statement comes as CNN reported on Monday that the Islamic State of Iraq and A-Sham (ISIS) remains in Tikrit with fighting ongoing for former President Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
In similar news of the Iraqi army's progress, the official spokesman for the Iraqi Armed Forces, Qassem Ata, said in a news conference Monday that the army had seized the University of Tikirit, which Iraqi forces have utilized as a base for launching operations. Another security source reported that military reinforcements, including artillery and tanks, have reached the Spiecher base located to the north of Tikrit, and that “armed forces have taken all the roads leading to Tikrit.”
ISIS-allied rebels claimed on Facebook that they had taken control of the base on Sunday night and captured a large number of soldiers. Rebels also circulated video on Saturday purporting to show combatants driving by the presidential palace in Tikrit, located close to government buildings, in a bid to show they still controlled the city.
The battle for Tikrit, which fell on June 11 to ISIS effectively began last week when Iraqi forces, supported by heavy air cover, assaulted the ISIS-held city from four directions and closed points of entry and exit. Iraqi military sources noted that the roughly 300 American advisors sent to Iraq had participated in the battle, a claim which US officials denied.