Syrian Regime forms Iranian-led National Defense Army

The Assad regime is forming an Iranian-led militia of 10,000 Syrian Alawite and Shia fighters, injected with Iraqi and Iranian experts and fighters, under the name of “National Defence Army” which will be a companion to the Syrian Army.

This militia which is believed to be Syria’s version of al-Mahdi’s army in Iraq and the Quds Corps in Iran, will be conformed of loyalist militiamen and of criminals who were released from prisons by the Syrian authorities. The members of this militia will take monthly salary and will have uniforms in order to protect the regime-controlled neighbourhoods from any armed attacks by the rebels.

Regime forces carried out more than 21 air raids on civilian areas across the country, using cluster, phosphorus, therbombaric and explosive bombs, causing extensive material damage and leading to massacres in Raqa and in the suburbs of Damascus. The continued violence left at least 199 people dead today, with regime forces and militias killing at least 159 people, including nine women and nine children. Fighting also erupted on various fronts across the country, leaving at least 30 rebel fighters and 40 regime soldiers dead.

Regime warplanes carried out several airstrikes on the northern province of Raqa. They dropped barrel bombs on residential areas, killing at least 30 people in Mazra’at Yarmouk and ten more in the town of Tabaqa in addition to leaving dozens others wounded.

More than 53 people, including 11 children and five women, were killed in Damascus and its suburbs, 18 of whom died in the provincial town of Daraya which was bombarded by short-range ground-to-ground Grad-type missiles. Meanwhile, five more people were killed in an airstrike carried out by a fighter jet in the mainly Palestinian town of Sbeneh.

Regime forces also killed 23 people in Aleppo, the majority of whom died as a result of the indiscriminate artillery and mortar shelling in the neighbourhoods of Haydariya, Jeser Haj, Karm Meyasar, Dahrat Owda as well as in Aleppo’s suburb of Safeera. Meanwhile, at least nine rebel fighters were killed during clashes that erupted in the vicinity of Quwayres airbase.

Dozens more were killed and injured due to the heavy shelling and fighting that took place in Daraa, Homs, Idlib, Latakia and Deir Azzour.

Residents continue their search operations for more victims in the village of Haswiya just north of Homs city. The number of people killed during the onslaught that was carried out by loyalist militiamen backed by government troops on Tuesday, has risen to 150 including dozens of women and children. Some survivors said that more than 44 women were raped and 100 men and women were kidnapped. Homes were looted and burnt down.

A government MiG fighter is said to have attacked regime military sites in a mainly Alawite neighbourhood in the mixed sect town of Moadamiyat al-Sham near Damascus. No further details were released on the aftermath of this attack as the reason behind this attack also remains vague, some accounts claim that the pilot has defected while others claim he just missed his target. Al-Nusra Front announced a series of attacks on regime forces in Idlib and Aleppo today. They stormed the 599th air defence base in the Aleppo suburb of Tal Hasel near Aleppo International Airport. They also carried out two suicide bomb attacks on two military checkpoints in the city of Idlib and attacked the checkpoints in the areas of “Dream Land” and “Ghasan Aboud”, leaving at least 15 regime soldiers dead and many others wounded. The rebels gained new victories on various fronts across the country. They ambushed a military convoy on the Damascus-Qunaitera international road near the town of Khan Sheikhoun, destroying two military tanks and killing more than 15 soldiers. They also seized control of the town of Zbeida Gharbiya in the province of Qunaitara after a heavy battle that resulted in the death and detention of many regime soldiers. In Daraa, the rebels stormed an army base in the village of Bait Qarra and seized control of the western part of Bosra al-Sham. They also destroyed three military tanks during clashes that erupted in the towns of Baser Harir and Herak.