Syrian Revolution News Round- up / Day 612 – After unity of political opposition, FSA unites battalions under divisions

Commander-in-Chief of the Higher Military Council of the rebel Free Syrian Army General Mustaf al-Shaikh announced the formation of five new army divisions to bring all the rebel battalions and brigades throughout the country under new leadership. The divisions formed are: The Southern Division which includes the provinces of Damascus, Daraa, Qunaitera and Suwaida, the Middle Division includes the provinces of Homs and Hama, the Northern Division includes the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, the Eastern Division includes the provinces of Deir Azzour, Hasaka and Raqa and finally the Western Division which includes the provinces of Latakia and Tartus.

This came as the rebels continued to gain victories in the eastern and north-eastern provinces of Deir Azzour, Hasaka and Raqa where they took over the military security branch, the Agriculture Bank and three military checkpoints in the Deir Azzour suburb of Boukamal where they also shot down a fighter jet and announced the liberation of the entire town. They also pushed regime forces out of the Hasaka suburb of Ras al-Ain after storming the remaining checkpoint in it. Moreover, they took over the municipality building of the Raqa suburb of Dibsi Afnan becoming the second town to fall to the rebels in the province of Raqa.

Heavy fighting continued in Damascus as rebel fighters continued to repel the regime’s ground assault on their strongholds in the capital and its suburbs, inflicting heavy losses on them and killing many. The rebels launched attacks on regime military sites and security buildings in Aleppo, Qunaitera, Idlib, Hama and Daraa killing more than 32 soldiers and militiamen and destroying a number of military tanks in addition to acquiring others.

Regime forces continued their attacks on opposition areas through the country. Warplanes and helicopter gunships as well as other heavy weaponry continued to indiscriminately shell residential areas as the ground forces carried out looting, arson arbitrary arrests and summary executions.Regime forces shelled more than 206 different areas across the country, mainly in Homs, Damascus, Idlib and Deir Azzour. Some 21 areas were bombarded with fighter jets while 146 others were shelled with heavy artillery. Regime forces killed at least 121 people including 15 children and five women as well as 30 rebel fighters.In Damascus and its suburbs, more than 52 were killed, including a family of seven members that were summarily executed in the provincial towns of Bowayda. Dozens others were killed during heavy clashes and shelling in the neighbourhoods of Tadamon, Jobar, Yarmouk refugee camp and Qadam as well as in the provincial towns of Harasta, Bait Sawa, Saqba and Douma. Many people were also left wounded and dozens of homes were destroyed.

More than 21 people were killed in Aleppo and its suburbs including ten rebel fighters who died during clashes while many others were killed due to the indiscriminate shelling in the provincial towns of al-Bab and Souran. At least 16 people were killed in Homs including eight that were shot dead as regime forces shelled and stormed the neighbourhood of Waer. Meanwhile, ten more people died in Idlib five of which were killed in an airstrike on the town of Ma’arrat Noman. Regime forces also killed four people in Raqa, three in each of Hama and Deir Azzour, two in Latakia and one in each of Hasaka and in Qunaitera.

Activists said that regime forces consisting of more than 3000 troops and 38 military tanks are gathering in Hama in preparation for a major offensive on the Idlib suburb of Ma’arrat Noman in a bid to retake the town that fell to the rebels some weeks ago. Meanwhile, activists voiced alarm at the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Damascus suburbs of Daraya and Moadamiya which have been subjected to daily shelling and suffocating siege hence, causing severe shortage in medical and food supplies.