HTS gains control of FSA locations in Aleppo and al-Zenki Movement withdraws from Aleppo for Afrin
Local and field news:
On Saturday, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) gained control of the village of Deir Samaan and its fortress, west of Aleppo, after clashes with Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions.
Local activists reported that the HTS's control of the village came after clashes between the HTS and the Turkish-backed National Army of the FSA, using medium weapons. After the clashes, the National Army withdrew for the town of Jindayris and the village of al-Ghazzawiyah in the Afrin area.
On Saturday, members of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, affiliated with the National Liberation Front (NLF), withdrew to the Afrin area near Aleppo after they lost their areas in western Aleppo to the HTS.
Private sources reported that dozens of al-Zenki members accompanying hundreds of their family members arrived in the villages of Fafirtin and al-Basoutah in the Afrin area, 43 kilometers northwest of Aleppo, after they left the villages of Qabatan al-Jabal, al-Mansourah, Kafr Dail, and Hur, which were the last villages controlled by Nour al-din al-Zenki Movement.
The Syrian Interim Government announced that the Free Aleppo University would be closed for five more days due to the clashes between the HTS and the FSA.
The Syrian Interim Government’s Ministry of High Education said in a statement that the Free Aleppo University will suspend its work from Jan. 5 to Jan. 10, 2019 due to the area’s declined security conditions to maintain the safety of the university students and educational staff.
Clashes between the HTS, the FSA, and the Syrian government forces killed and injured members of the latter and their allied militias in western Aleppo, as they were trying to advance in the area.
Captain Amin, a military commander from the Jaysh Halab, said that groups of Syrian government forces and their allied militias attempted to advance from the northeastern area of the scientific research directorate. The factions of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, al-Sham Legion, the al-Hurriah Brigade, and reinforcement from the HTS blocked the Syrian government forces' advance.
On Saturday, the local council of the city of Ariha, southern Idlib, announced the resignation of all council members in order to form a new council, which will guarantee the unity of members and end the disputes between them and the civilians.
Mohammad Ahmado, deputy head of the Ariha local council, said that the resignation came four months before the end of the current period due to the dispute between council members and popular council committees.
In Central Syria, an explosion injured 10 civilians in the al-Qusur neighborhood in the Syrian government forces-controlled city of Hama.
Local sources reported on Saturday that a landmine planted on the side of a road exploded while civilians were passing by, injuring 10 and resulting in critical injuries for two of them; the injured were transported to the city hospitals.
In Eastern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Saturday the killing of 71 Islamic State (IS) members in the Dier al-Zor governorate.
The SDF said in a statement that the IS members were killed in two separate IS attacks on the city of Hajin, after the SDF gained control of a tunnel in the city.
Fleeing the clashes between the SDF and the IS, 120 families arrived from eastern Deir al-Zor to makeshift camps in the Hos area, 70 kilometers east of al-Raqqa.
A member of an organization’s census office said that the organization gave food and tents to several of the displaced families in the Hos and al-Karamah areas, while other families preferred to settle in the villages of Khas Ojayl, Khas Habal, Hamad, and Assaf in eastern al-Raqqa.
Also on Saturday, the Syrian government forces arrested dozens of men from the village of Albu Omar, 16 kilometers east of Deir al-Zor.
Local sources reported that the Military Security of the Syrian government intelligence forces detained 28 men, including eight over 50 years old.
International and political news:
On Saturday, John R. Bolton, the National Security advisor for the United States warned the Syrian government against the use of chemical weapons on civilians after the withdrawal of US forces from Syria.