Syria Direct: News Update 1-19-15

Regime forces captured an unspecified number of Kurdish [YPG] checkpoints in the divided city of Al-Hasakah on Sunday
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PYG, regime turn on each other in Al-Hasakah

Regime forces captured an unspecified number of Kurdish [YPG] checkpoints in the divided city of Al-Hasakah on Sunday, in the first fighting in the provincial capital since September 2014, reported pro-opposition Smart News Agency.

“Kurdish forces tried to take the entrance of the city, with eight civilians killed in fighting that erupted on Friday and continued until Sunday,” a citizen journalist in Al-Hasakah, who goes by the name Siraj Al-Hasakawi, told Syria Direct on Monday.

The city is jointly ruled by the YPG and regime, who appear to have had a tacit agreement to avoid confronting each other. It was not immediately clear what sparked the fighting, but the regime captured a base in addition to a number of strategic points in the Aziziya neighborhood in northeast Al-Hasakah.

The YPG has a strong presence in Al-Hasakah province, providing services in areas under their control.

Al-HasakaAzyzyia Kurds and regime battle for Al-Hasakah over the weekend. Photo courtesy of @mustefaebdi

Hezbollah confirms 6 dead in possible Israeli attack

Hezbollah confirmed on Sunday the deaths of six prominent members due to an Israeli helicopter strike on the Al-Amal Farm area of Quneitra earlier that day in an announcement read on Al-Manar [text of the announcement here].

Among the dead was Jihad Imad Mughnieh, the son of Imad Mughnieh, a Hezbollah leader killed in a car bomb attack in Damascus in 2008 which the Lebanese militia maintains was carried out by Israel.

As of publication, the Israeli military had not officially claimed responsibility for the attack.

An unnamed Syrian military source classified the raid as “within the framework of Israel’s support for terrorists,” reported Syrian official news agency SANA.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Thareef condemned the Israeli attack in a press release Monday, saying that Israel “feels nervous about stability and security in the region, just as the nuclear talks are making Israel nervous,” reported Al-Manar.

Government raises salaries amidst increased living costs

The Syrian government announced an increase in the monthly salaries of government employees by 4,000 Syrian pounds [$22] per month as living prices across the country continue to rise, according to official state news SANA.

The raise, described as a “living compensation,” is part of a presidential decree issued by Bashar Assad affecting civilian, military and retired employees, and will be implemented in February.

The move, announced on Sunday, comes in the wake of the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection’s decision to increase the price of heating oil, cooking gas and bread, which went into effect on the same day, said SANA.  

The price of bread rose to 35 Syrian pounds [$0.19] from 25 [$0.14] for two kilograms, while the price of cooking gas increased to 1500 [$8.20] from 1100 [$6.02] for a gas canister.

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