Thursday, October 17, 2013

Regime gains around Damascus, rebels fight (each other) in Aleppo

The last few days have not been the best.

10/10 Fierce fighting broke out at another front close to Damascus, pitting government troops backed by the Lebanese Hezbollah and pro-regime fighters against rebels in Bueida and Dyebiye. The State news agency, SANA, said that the army was able to seize control of Dyebiye and Husseiniyah, another nearby district.  Troops had also seized nearby villages of Sheikh Amro and Bassatine. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights  - AFP

11/10 Syrian army troops and Shia fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad captured two southern suburbs of Damascus on Friday, killing at least 70 people, opposition activists said. The fighters, including some from the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah and Iraqi Shias backed by Syrian army tanks, searched al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya, a Palestinian refugee camp, for pockets of resistance after overrunning them, the sources said. The capture of the two districts, located between the two main highways leading to Jordan, strengthens Assad's hold on major supply lines and puts pressure on rebel brigades under siege for months in areas adjacent to the centre of Damascus. [Reuters] -

13/10 Thousands flee Damascus suburbs of Moadhamiya and Daraya. Activists, though, claimed that this was a publicity stunt by the regime and many more thousands remained trapped within the town of Muadhamiya  (C4News, ). BBC : "On Saturday, the Syrian government began the evacuation of around 1,500 civilians, mainly women and children, from a rebel-held Damascus suburb besieged by the army for months. Many of those coming out of Muadhamiya, south-west of Damascus, were said to be exhausted and traumatised." (Red Cross workers kidnapped ...)

A rebel fighter in Deir al-Zour. Violence has continued across Syria, with seven aid workers abducted Saturday in Idlib Province. In Rare Cease-Fire, Hundreds Evacuate Rebel-Held Syrian Town By ANNE BARNARD. Hundreds of civilians were allowed to leave Moadhamiyeh, outside Damascus, but aid workers said they were still unable to enter the besieged town, where six people have reportedly died of malnutrition.
: Muslim clerics have issued a ruling - or fatwa - permitting people to eat cats, dogs and donkeys (BBC WS, The Newsroom, 16/10, 00:14). Starving Syrians 'can eat dogs'The fatwa, issued in a video, said people could eat these to prevent starvation  in the besieged, rebel-held Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya.
In a message to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha - normally a time for celebration and feasting - the religious leaders authorised those left in the Ghouta agricultural belt around Damascus to eat animals usually considered unfit for human consumption in Islam. The clerics said it was a cry for help to the whole world, adding that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the living would have to eat the dead.
It is not the first such fatwa issued in the Syrian conflict. Similar religious edicts were announced in Homs and Aleppo when the fighting in those cities was at its fiercest. [..] The general director of  [MSF], Christopher Stokes, has described it as an "absurd" situation when chemical weapons inspectors are able to drive freely through areas in desperate need while aid convoys are blocked. 
16/10 Syria army hails recapture of rebel town near Damascus:
Syrian troops recaptured the strategic town of Bweida, south of Damascus, from rebel forces on Wednesday, state media and a monitoring group reported. [..] "The army's advance is part of an attempt to crush the rebels' positions in the countryside south of Damascus, in order to isolate those operating within the southern belt of the capital," [SOHR director] Abdel Rahman said.There was also fighting on Wednesday nearer to the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, and in the Hojeira district of south Damascus.
13/10 the state news agency said two car bombs exploded on Sunday evening near the state TV building in Damascus.The TV headquarters in the capital's Umayyad Square was reportedly damaged in the attack (Red Cross workers kidnapped ...)

Fighting has raged in Aleppo - the air raid on Thursday killed 16 people, including a woman and two children in the eastern village of Safira, which is controlled by armed groups including the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)... the regime "bombarded Safira for two days in order to relieve pressure of the supply route to Aleppo". The route is used not only to ferry weapons and reinforcements to troops at the front, but also to deliver food and medical supplies to civilians in regime-controlled areas. Another six people, including a woman and child, were killed in air raids on Menbej, a village east of Aleppo controlled by ISIL and other armed groups. SOHR  - AFP
11/10 A French Muslim, fighting with rebels in , has carried out a suicide bombing against an an army position in Aleppo province ... The man killed 10 soldiers in the bombing during a Wednesday attack on the village of Al-Hamam, southeast of the northern city of Aleppo [SOHR]  told AFP. The attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda-linked groups - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al-Nusra Front. ... the bomber - nicknamed Abu al-Qaaqaa after one of the companions of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed ..

13/10 Scores die as rebel factions fight in Aleppo:
Clashes between rival rebel factions left at least 44 fighters dead in battles to control neighbourhoods in the city of Aleppo, according to an activist group. The three days of fighting was between al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and a rival group formerly known as Ghurabaa al-Sham. ... (SOHR) said on Saturday 14 of the dead belonged to ISIS, which was able to control three neighbourhoods in Aleppo.
In the Deraa, eight people, including two children were killed in air raids on Nawa village between the army and rebels. The General Commission of the Syrian Revolution said that there were many people wounded and in serious condition, indicating that the toll would rise. SOHR  - AFP
10/10 New suspect indicted in Hariri death The UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri indicts a fifth suspect.

Hezbollah 'execution' video sparks online outrage: Al-Arabiya television said it may have been filmed during the battle for Qusayr, a strategic Syrian town near the Lebanese border that Syrian troops recaptured from rebels with the help of Hezbollah earlier this year.


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