Monday, March 11, 2013

Syria: the price of inaction (part 2)

From The Economist's Briefing, The country formerly known as Syria:
 Western intelligence sources say that jihadists are now arriving in Syria by the busload. Jabhat al-Nusra, the most devout Syrian battalion, which shares al-Qaeda’s worldview, is getting stronger. In December an armed group trashed a Shia prayer house in Zarzour, a town in Idleb. Though many Syrians reject the jihadists the war is becoming religious.
Arab League and Russia meeting, Weds (20/2). 500 women recruited to regime armed forces. 'Hands off Syria' spokeswoman in Sydney. Silence amounts to paticipation. Transitional government to run liberated areas by 2 Mar. (Inside Syria, al Jazeera, 23/2)

28/2 Kerry in Rome, recognizes opposition coalition as legitimate voice of Syrian people, will provide food & medical aid. SNC spokesman: US aid could include communications equipment, vehicles, bullet-proof vests, but non-lethal. On the "busloads of jihadists", it's the West's fault, but anyway the proportion is small (al Jazeera). U.S. Pledges $60 Million to Syrian Opposition - Secretary of State John Kerry says the US will provide "non-lethal" support to Syrian rebels for the first time, as well as extra aid to the opposition (US extends aid to Syrian rebels). Rebels claim to have taken ancient mosque in Aleppo (BBC WS). Hague does not rule out arming opposition in future - risks of action, or inaction. Opposition spokesman: end to scud missiles, some sort of zone to prevent them ... (C4News).

2/3 Syrian FM in Tehran. Heavy fighting around Damascus, Daraya - video, shelling of Douma,  Raqqa, Aleppo, Yarmouk- video of looting. Almost 1 million refugees and 4 million internally displaced. Kerry in Cairo - Arab League (al Jazeera).
(Inside Syria, al Jazeera, 2/3)
3/3 Assad, Sunday Times interview. Hague, on BBC, says Britain may arm rebels in future. Rebels moving closer to centre of Damascus, capture most of Police Academy in Aleppo, shoot down 2nd helicopter. Khatib in northern Syria. (C4News)

4/3 Prices of basic goods have shot up. Casey Kauffman report from Aleppo - warehouse recently taken over by rebels (al Jazeera).
22:00 Rebels take control of Raqqa, pull down a statue of Hafez Assad with a rope (BBCWS) Syrian soldiers 'killed in Iraq'.

5/3 al-Raqqa - video, attack led by al-Nusra front and Islamic Front, city is between Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, 160 km E of Aleppo, will be run by religious committee.  One military base under government control, but surrounded. Airport still under government control. Kerry in Doha. Israel warns about Syrian shells falling in Israel (al Jazeera). Syrian planes 'bomb rebels in Raqqa' -

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