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Regime forces conducted 15 air raids on Yabroud and entered eastern parts of the strategic city; some of the rebels have fled south to Rankos, but others, including the Al Nusrah Front, have remained in the city. Abu Azzam al-Kuwaiti, the Al Nusrah deputy for Qalamoun, was killed yesterday on the outskirts of Yabroud; he had negotiated a prisoner swap involving the kidnapped Syrian nuns. In Raqqah, a rebel battalion killed at least 14 Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham fighters in an ambush. ISIS clashed with Kurdish YPG forces in Aleppo. The Islamic Front and the Jund al Sham battled regime forces in Homs.




Syrian forces enter last rebel bastion near Lebanese border




Iran official: Hezbollah Syria move 'logical'




The Syrian army backed by Hezbollah advanced closer to Yabroud, taking the hill of Aqaba, 2 km from the city, battling the Al Nusrah Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, and the Islamic Front. The ISIS has withdrawn from Idlib and Latakia, and has retreated to eastern Reef Aleppo and Raqqah; the retreats were carried out under the protection of the Al Nusrah Front. An activist observer group said that about 4,000 people have been killed in clashes between the ISIS on the one side and the Islamic Front and "fighting battalions" on the other since early January. The ISIS released video featuring two Libyan suicide bombers who detonated in Deir Izzour.




Saudis hardened by wars in Syria, Iraq join al Qaeda in Yemen




Al Nusrah Front, Free Syrian Army launch joint operation

Al Qaeda's branch in Syria teamed up with the the Liwa al Ummah to overrun Syrian Army positions in the city of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province.


Regime and Hezbollah fighters continued to try to wrest the strategic town of Yabroud from rebel forces, including the Al Nusrah Front, the Islamic Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. Al Nusrah and the Islamic Front fought against regime forces in Hama; in Aleppo, where they are besieging the central prison; and in Deir Izzour. The ISIS fired rockets at the regime's 17th division in Raqqah, and clashed with the Islamic Front and the Jabhat Al-Arkrad in Aleppo. The head of the Syrian Orthodox Church said some of the comments of the recently freed nuns were made under duress. Al Nusrah issued statements claiming 11 operations in Homs, including a suicide bombing, in January and February; and a joint attack with the Liwa' al-Ummah in Khan Sheikhun in Idlib.




Rebels in Homs fight for a shattered dream




The Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic Front clashed with regime forces in Deir Izzour, in Idlib, and in Aleppo. The Islamic Front battled regime forces in various towns in Reef Dimashq, including around Yabroud. Syria plans to close its embassies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait because those countries have refused to accredit the Syrian envoys. President Assad visited the Damascus suburb of Adra, in his first public appearance outside the capital since August. A new Syrian law requires visitors to have a visa to enter the country.




Seeing a Threat at Home in a Fight Abroad




A prominent jihadist forum said it supports the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham and urged the Al Nusrah Front to resolve differences with the group. Information Minister al Zoubi said 25 persons, not 150, were released in exchange for the nuns freed yesterday; other sources said 141 women and a "small" number of men were freed. In Aleppo, ISIS executed 12 rebels and at least 10 other people, and clashed with the Jabhat Al Akrad brigade and the Islamic Front near Ein Al-Arab city. In Hasakah, three ISIS suicide bombers, one of whom was female, detonated in a hotel in Qamishli, and ISIS and the Al Nusrah Front exchanged prisoners. In Reef Dimashq, Al Nusrah, ISIS, and the Islamic Front continued to battle regime forces around Yabroud. Al Nusrah released video of its Abu Ghadiya training camp and sniper attacks in Homs and Deraa. State media said terrorists from the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Dagestan were killed in various operations, and that a leader of the al Mujahideen Battalion was killed in Deraa.




LWJ's prior warnings about 9/11 recruiter's release




9/11 recruiter reportedly freed in Syria

Mohammed Zammar, who recruited al Qaeda's Hamburg cell, has reportedly been freed inside Syria. His freedom was negotiated by Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked group.


Siege of Syrian arms depot in Tal Al Jabiyeh exposes chemical weapons fears




Secret HQ in Amman helps and directs Syrian rebels in south




Syria war: new push against Assad being planned, reports suggest




Al Qaeda hijacks spirit of Syria revolt three years on




Israel Watches Warily as Hezbollah Gains Battle Skills in Syria




Among the roughly 150 regime detainees released in the swap for 13 kidnapped Syrian nuns are some rebel fighters; the Lebanese negotiator said the Al Nusrah Front had first demanded the release of 1,000 prisoners. Mohammed Haydar Zammar, the al Qaeda recruiter who helped assemble the "Hamburg cell" that carried out the 9/11 attacks, is reportedly living in Aleppo after being freed last fall in a prisoner swap between Ahrar al Sham and the regime. In Aleppo, Al Nusrah and the Islamic Front clashed with regime forces in Shekh Najjar, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham fought against the Jabhat Al Akrad brigade and the Islamic Front near Menbej city. In Raqqah, an explosion at a hotel used as an ISIS base killed and wounded a number of ISIS fighters. The Islamic Front battled regime forces in Hama and in Deraa. ISIS, Al Nusrah, and the Islamic Front continued to clash with regime, NDF, and Hezbollah forces in Reef Dimashq.




War of narratives in prisoner exchange of Syrian nuns