Kanaan Mohamed, a spokesman for the interim defense ministry of the Syrian National Council—the most prominent umbrella group of opposition movements—told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that the ministry would announce the formation of an “operations room” to organize the battle against ISIS, which has recently seized the northern entrance to the provincial capital, as well as some of the suburbs.
The militant group has been battling its principle jihadist rival, the Al-Nusra Front, as well as more moderate Islamist factions and groups linked to the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat: “A secret meeting chaired by interim defense minister As’ad Mustafa took place on Monday, and the decision was made to form the operations room and support the military council in Deir Ezzor.”
Mohamed also accused the Syrian government of aiding by ISIS by bombing areas held by other rebel groups and ignoring ISIS-held territory.
Meanwhile, activists say opposition fighters attacked an ISIS checkpoint at its stronghold in Raqqa on Monday. One activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that FSA fighters blew up a checkpoint on the road between Raqqa and Tel Abyad, one of the largest ISIS checkpoints in the area, in order to “relieve the pressure on the opposition fighters in Deir Ezzor, who are currently fighting ISIS at a number of positions.”
Elsewhere, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, Rami Abdul Rahman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that water supplies had been restored to the suburbs of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city and the scene of intense combat between rebels and government forces.
Rebels reportedly attempted to cut the water supply to government-held parts of the city eight days ago, but in the process also cut off water to large swathes of the city, including rebel territory.
Rahman said: “Neutral parties in the city, who did not support the opposition or the regime, succeeded in restoring water to these areas.”
The Observatory quoted reports that Aleppo residents were forced to queue near water sources at mosques and other places to get their water, and were forced at times to drink untreated water, causing illness in some residents.
Abdul Rahman said the groups that disrupted the water supplies had promised not to do so again, and that “we are against and condemn the disruption of water and electricity supplies to civilians, and we refuse to accept the disruption of water supplies to 2 million civilians on the pretext of putting pressure on the regime.”
He denounced the move as “a crime against humanity and no different to the Syrian regime’s crimes against civilians and the bombardment by barrel bombs.”