Sīrija

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 22 Jūl 2013 03:09

Free Syrian army clashes with jihadists in wake of commander's assassination
Fighting in Aleppo widens cracks in splintering opposition as military gains are reversed
Martin Chulov, Beirut
The Observer, Sunday 14 July 2013
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/ju ... hes-aleppo
Months of uneasy calm between jihadists and the mainstream Syrian opposition spilled into fierce fighting in Aleppo on Saturday, days after a senior Free Syria army commander was assassinated by a jihadi group.
The fighting was in Bustan al-Qasr in the south-east of the divided city, near a main checkpoint between the regime-held west and the opposition-held east. The east has been under the nominal control of units associated with the FSA for much of the past year. However, jihadists who have also been trying to assert themselves and this week took over the checkpoint, stopping people and supplies from crossing.
The battle underscored the fast-splintering nature of the Syrian opposition, which made sweeping military gains across much of northern Syria last year, but has been unable to advance from its key strongholds in Aleppo and elsewhere since January.
Using a mix of charity and conciliation, the jihadists had initially won the trust of reluctant communities in Aleppo and the countryside between Syria's second city and the Turkish border. However, their more strident posture in recent weeks is now earning them enemies among their hosts.
The anger is centred towards foreign jihadists who, while still a minority among the myriad groups, are often aggressively operating outside the control structures of the Syrian extremists and the FSA. Foreign fighters are believed to have led the attack on the Aleppo checkpoint and killed the senior commander, Kamal Hamami, in the Jebel al-Krud country side north of Latakia on Thursday.
Jabhat al-Nusra, the main jihadist group, and the FSA had until recently worked alongside each other during major operations in the north. While relations between them have not yet broken down, the rise in prominence of fringe organisations is eroding discipline across opposition ranks.
The infighting comes as the regime, heavily backed by Hezbollah forces from Lebanon and a large contingent of Shia foreign fighters, many from Iraq, continue to slowly advance into rebel-held areas of Homs, Syria's third city 150 miles to the south of Aleppo, which has been under intensive air and ground attack for much of the past week.
Opposition groups posted a video online on Saturday, which purports to show Syrian air force jets attacking a crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, near the city. Some opposition strongholds in Homs, which is now a divided city, have been bombed more heavily than at any time since February last year, activists say. Syrian military formations to the south and east suggest a ground invasion may follow the bombardment. The battle comes one month after Hezbollah and Syrian forces took the town of Qusair, 30 kilometres to te south it what was seen as the first leg of a summer offensive.

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 24 Jūl 2013 17:19

Syrian rebels to start receiving US weapons amid anxiety from Congress
Paul Lewis in Washington
The Guardian, Tuesday 23 July 2013 17.35 BST
CIA could begin shipping arms in the coming weeks after clearance from House and Senate intelligence committees

The CIA could begin shipping arms to Syria in the coming weeks, after two US congressional panels cleared the way for the controversial transfer of weapons.
The White House announced in June that it would provide limited military support for vetted rebel groups, which have recently been struggling in their campaign against President Bashar al-Assad.
Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees have expressed concerns that arms could end up in the hands of Islamist militants fighting in the region – or not do enough to tip the balance in the civil war.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House committee, said on Tuesday that the panel had agreed to support the plan to arm the opposition fighters. However, the committee made clear it has only agreed reluctantly and retained serious anxieties about whether Barack Obama's new policy would work.
"The House intelligence committee has very strong concerns about the strength of the administration's plans in Syria and its chances for success," he said in a statement, after Reuters reported the decision. "After much discussion and review, we got a consensus that we could move forward with what the administration's plans and intentions are in Syria consistent with committee reservations."
Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat among the minority on the House committee who opposes sending arms, said: "It's too late to affect the outcome with a small amount of arms."
The Senate committee decided earlier this month that it would back the plan to back the rebels, on the condition they received updates on the covert programme. Both committees have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss Obama's desire to transfer light weapons and ammunition to rebel insurgent organisations, as well as to supply some training.
The timeline for the weapons transfer is unclear, but reports suggest the process could take place over the next several weeks. Syrian opposition groups have said publicly they hope they will begin receiving the deliveries in August.
US secretary of state John Kerry and other senior officials in the administration have been lobbying hard behind the scenes to persuade Congress to back the new policy.
Obama, who has been reluctant to engage too deeply in the Syrian conflict, changed its position on arming opponents of Assad's regime last month, after concluding Syrian forces had used chemical weapons against civilians. The White House described that development as Assad crossing a "red line".
For now, a limited policy of supplying small arms to rebel groups appears to be as far as the Obama administration will go.
The top US military officer warned senators on Monday that taking military action to stop the bloodshed in Syria was likely to escalate quickly and result in "unintended consequences". Alluding to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that once the US became embroiled militarily in the Syrian civil war, "deeper involvement is hard to avoid".
He said: "We have learned from the past 10 years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/ju ... s-congress

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Re: Sīrija

Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 29 Jūl 2013 02:07

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants forged ahead with their assault on a key rebel district in the central city of Homs Sunday, activists said, as President Bashar Assad's forces try to crush resistance in the few remaining opposition-held neighborhoods in the city known as the "capital of the revolution."
The push on Homs is part of a broader government offensive on rebel-held areas that has seen regime troops retake some of the territory they have lost to opposition fighters in Syria's more than 2-year-old conflict. Assad's forces turned their sights on Homs, the country's third-largest city, after capturing the strategic town of Qusair near the Lebanon border last month.
Government troops have made headway in Homs in recent days, capturing a 13th century landmark mosque in the contested Khaldiyeh neighborhood that had been in rebel hands for more than a year. Homs holds immense symbolic and strategic importance to both sides, and the ferocity of the fighting for control of it has left much of the city in ruins.
The opposition accused the regime of pulverizing Khaldiyeh and said their victory was "hollow."
On Sunday, Syrian state TV had live coverage from Khaldiyeh, which is located on the northern edge of the Old City, broadcasting footage that showed gaping holes in apartment blocks, shattered buildings with collapsed floors and blackened facades. Soldiers and reporters walked through rubble-strewn streets. The military took TV crews working for pro-regime media outlets deep into the neighborhood, suggesting the army was confident it had secured the area.
An unidentified Syrian army commander standing before a destroyed building in Khaldiyeh told an embedded state TV reporter that the military expected to "liberate" the last part of the district within the next two days.
Syrian government forces captured the ancient Khalid Ibn al-Walid Mosque in Khaldiyeh on Saturday. Syrian TV aired a report with video from inside the mosque, showing heavy damage. The video showed debris littering the floor and a portion of the mosque appeared to have been burned.
Famous for its nine domes and two minarets, the mosque has been a symbol for rebels in the city, and the government takeover dealt a powerful symbolic blow to the rebellion. On Monday, government troops shelled the mosque, damaging the tomb of Ibn al-Walid, a revered figure in Islam. Video showed the tomb's roof knocked down.
The Observatory and other activists said government troops are backed by members of Lebanon's Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside regime forces in their assault on rebel-held territory in the central region.
Syria's main exiled opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, acknowledged that rebels had retreated from parts of Khaldiyeh, calling it a "tactical withdrawal."
"After the heavy bombardment of the Khaldiyeh area of Homs, using thousands of rockets, explosive barrels and large amounts of heavy weaponry ... Assad forces have managed to overtake a few yards of the land that they have pulverized," it said in a statement.
It said Assad was attempting the lift the sagging morale of his soldiers by exaggerating its victory in Homs, and vowed that rebels would soon retake the area.
In addition to its symbolic value, Homs is a geographic lynchpin in Syria. The main highway from Damascus to the north and the coast, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect, runs through Homs.
An official in the Homs governor's office said a car bomb exploded near a checkpoint on the Homs-Tartous highway, killing three people and wounding 5 others. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements.
In northeastern Syria, the death toll from nearly two weeks of clashes between al-Qaida-linked fighters and Kurdish militiamen rose to 120, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group. It said the dead include 79 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Jabhat al-Nusra, both al-Qaida-affiliated rebel groups. The Observatory monitors the Syrian war through a network of activists on the ground.
The latest round of fighting flared in Ras al-Ayn on July 6 in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh in the northeast near the Turkish border. Kurdish gunmen are fighting to expel the militants, whom they see as a threat.
Also on Sunday, the Coalition condemned the reported execution of scores of government soldiers by rebels in a northern Syrian village several days ago, and said "those involved in such crimes will be held accountable."
The group, made up of exiled opposition leaders, said in a statement that it was forming a commission of inquiry to investigate the incident in Khan al-Assal.
Syrian activists say rebels killed 150 government soldiers, some after they surrendered, on Monday and Tuesday in the village outside Aleppo, the country's largest city.
State media said that 123 "civilians and military personnel" were killed in a "massacre" and others were still missing.
The Coalition said initial reports showed "armed groups" not affiliated with the main rebel coalition were involved. It did not elaborate, but the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra says its fighters participated in the battle.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the crime "will not pass without punishment," vowing that the perpetrators will pay a "dear price."
In an interview with Syrian TV late Saturday, he said the "massacre" aimed to spread fear and panic among people at a time when the Syrian military was achieving significant progress on the ground.
In a separate statement, the Coalition urged Egypt to release dozens of Syrians it said were arrested last week allegedly for violating residency regulations.
It said Egyptian police arrested at least 72 Syrian men and nine boys at checkpoints on main roads in Cairo. Some had valid visas or residence permits but were arrested "on the pretext of not having residence permits," it said.
The Coalition said regulations concerning Syrians' entrance into Egypt were changed. Since July 8, Syrians have been required to obtain entry visas and security clearance before they are allowed to enter Egypt.
It urged the Egyptian government not to deport Syrians, saying Cairo has an "ethical and humanitarian duty to protect the Syrian people fleeing the tyranny" at home.

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Re: Sīrija

Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 28 Aug 2013 14:48

28/08/2013
Syria warns of ‘surprise’ military capabilities
Assad allies waiting in wings

Moualem said on Tuesday he was confident that Russia, a key ally of the Bashar al-Assad regime, would not abandon Damascus. "I can assure you that Russia has not abandoned Syria. Our relations continue in all fields, and we thank Russia for its support," he said.
The intensity of the pro-Assad response will depend greatly on the type of action taken against his regime, analysts say.
Iran and Russia are Assad's principal international allies, while Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah has fought alongside Syrian army forces against rebels in the country.
"Everything depends on the nature, the extent and the goals of a Western strike and, for the moment, I expect nothing more than a warning strike," Joseph Bahout, a Syria expert and professor at Sciences Po in Paris, told AP.
"In this scenario, neither Hezbollah nor Iran will go too far. We can expect 'lateral and indirect' moves like aggression towards UNIFIL [the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon] or anonymous rockets against Israel but, in the end, it will not be anything new."
But if Western powers attempt to overthrow the regime, Bahout says “an extreme response, particularly from Iran,” cannot be ruled out.
A top Iranian military chief warned on Sunday that the US will face "harsh consequences" if it intervenes in Syria over the chemical attack claims.
"For the moment, Iran is launching warnings, but if the Americans decide to intervene, they will fall into their [Iran's] trap," said Amir Mohebian, an analyst and journalist based in Iran.
"Iran will sit back and watch as the Americans and their allies sink into a quagmire."
Moscow meanwhile has warned that a military intervention in Syria could have "catastrophic consequences" for the region, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country would not get involved in a military conflict.
Russian news agency Interfax said on Tuesday that Damascus government had enough air defence systems to rebuff attacks.

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Re: Sīrija

Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 29 Aug 2013 15:12

Eksperti: Uzbrukums Sīrijai būs simbolisks un ierobežots
Parīze, 29.aug., LETA--AFP. Iespējamie militārie triecieni Sīrijā, par ko pēdējās dienās aktīvi tiek debatēts Vašingtonā un dažās rietumvalstu galvaspilsētās, tiks vērsti pret armijas un izlūkdienesta objektiem, kā arī pret vietām, kam ir simboliska saistība ar Damaskas režīmu, tomēr šie triecieni neizmainīs spēku līdzsvaru valstī, uzskata eksperti.
Iespējamo triecienu mērķis būs sodīt Sīrijas prezidenta Bašara al Asada režīmu un paust viņam skaidru vēstījumu, nevis satriekt viņa militāro spēku un sniegt nemierniekiem izšķirošu atbalstu, norāda eksperti.
"Konkrēto mērķu vidū būs ceturtās un Republikas gvardes tanku divīziju Damaskas apvidus štābi, kazarmas un aizmugures dienestu objekti. Šīs divas vienības ir nopietni iesaistītas civilistu apvidu bombardēšanā," uzskata Vašingtonas Tuvo Austrumu institūta pārstāvis Džefrijs Vaits.
"Sabiedroto spēkiem vajadzētu arī uzbrukt augstākā līmeņa armijas un izlūkdienestu galvenajiem birojiem, pavēlniecības un kontroles struktūrām, kas ir saistītas ar militārajām operācijām galvaspilsētas apkaimē," skaidroja eksperts.
Analītiķi paredz, ka no ASV un to sabiedroto zemūdenēm, kuģiem un lidmašīnām, kas neatradīsies Sīrijas teritoriālajos ūdeņos un gaisa telpā, uz Sīriju tiks izšautas spārnotās raķetes.
Triecieni būs "vairāk simboliski, nevis militāri", paredz Francijas ģenerālis, bijušais militārās akadēmijas "Ecole de Guerre" direktors Vensāns Deports.
"Tas ir jautājums par Rietumu reputācijas atjaunošanu, izdarot kaut ko. Nedrīkst pieļaut, ka deklarētā "sarkanā līnija" tiek pārkāpta tādā mērā un nekas netiek darīts, pretējā gadījumā ASV reputācija tiks sagrauta, īpaši jau attiecībā uz Irānu," norāda Deports.
"Tomēr nedrīkst arī pārspīlēt, jo, ja prezidents Asads mirst vai arī režīms sabrūk, tas varētu novest pie šaušalīgas asinspirts, nacionāla mēroga haosa. Tā būtu vēl viena stratēģiska kļūda, kādu jau mēs pieredzējām Lībijā," atgādināja Francijas ģenerālis.
Triecieni tiks veikti īsā laika posmā un tie būs vērsti pret simboliskiem objektiem - valdības ēkām, armijas komandcentriem, gaisa spēku bāzēm un pat pret prezidenta pili, ja vien skaidri būs zināms, ka tajā neatrodas pats prezidents.
Uzbrukums Sīrijai, ja tāds tiks īstenots, būs ierobežots laika un telpas ziņā, liecina medijiem nopludinātā stratēģiskā informācija dažās Rietumu galvaspilsētās.
Tie nebūs tik jaudīgi, lai vājinātu Sīrijas militāro potenciālu un grozītu spēku līdzsvaru par labu nemierniekiem.
ASV prezidents Baraks Obama vēl nav pieņēmis lēmumu, vai uzbrukt Sīrijai, taču uzsvēris, ka jebkura Savienoto Valstu reakcija būs brīdinājums, ka ķīmiskos ieročus labāk nelietot. Vašingtonas atteikšanās no mēģinājumiem iegūt ANO Drošības padomes mandātu liecina, ka trieciens, visticamāk, ir neizbēgams.
Ideju par uzbrukumu Sīrijai līdz šim atbalstījušas Lielbritānija, Francijas un Turcija. Tiesa gan, Lielbritānijas premjerministrs Devids Kemerons, sastopot parlamentāriešu pretestību idejai par uzbrukumu Sīrijai, bijis spiests trešdien paziņot, ka viņš nedos rīkojumu uzsākt militārās operācijas, kamēr nebūs publicēts ANO inspektoru ziņojums.
Daudzas rietumvalstis - arī Austrija, Beļģija, Itālija un Polija - paziņojušas, ka neatbalsta uzbrukumu Sīrijai, norādot, ka tam ir nepieciešams ANO Drošības padomes pilnvarojums, ir jāsagaida ANO inspektoru ziņojums par iespējamo uzbrukumu vietā iegūtajām liecībām. Beļģija arī norādīja, ka nav pietiekamu pierādījumu, ka Asads būtu pielietojis ķīmiskos ieročus pret savu tautu.
Kategoriski uzbrukuma ideju noraida tuvākās Damaskas sabiedrotās - Krievija un Irāna.
Arī lielākās jaunattīstības valstis - Indija un Brazīlija - norādījušas, ka ir jāsagaida ANO inspektoru ziņojums.
LETA jau ziņojusi, ka pēdējo dienu laikā arvien skaļāk izskan ASV un dažu to sabiedroto draudi uzsākt militāru uzbrukumu Sīrijai. Rietumvalstu retorika kļuvusi asāka pēc 21.augusta notikumiem Damaskas pievārtē, kur atbilstoši nemiernieku versijai valdības karaspēka uzbrukumā pielietoti ķīmiskie ieroči.
Sīrijas valdība šīs apsūdzības kategoriski noraida un ķīmisko ieroču izmantošanā apsūdz nemierniekus, kas šādi cenšas diskreditēt valdību.
Intervijā, kas pirmdien publicēta Krievijas laikrakstā "Izvestija", Asads sacīja, ka rietumvalstis neuzbruks Sīrijai, jo tās saprot, kas šajā valstī patiesībā notiek, ka to plosa terorisms. Viens no šķēršļiem kara sākšanai ir tas, "ka visi saprot - tas, kas notiek Sīrijā, tā nav nedz tautas revolūcija, nedz prasības pēc reformām. Tas ir terorisms," skaidroja prezidents. "Šajā situācijā Rietumu līderi nevar pateikt saviem pilsoņiem: "Mēs ejam uz Sīriju, lai atbalstītu terorismu."
Publicēta: 29.08.2013 12:50
LETA, AFP

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Re: Sīrija

Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 06 Sep 2013 12:40

Syria sends reinforcements to Christian village
Sep. 6 5:55 AM EDT

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say the Syrian government has dispatched reinforcements to a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus where rebels have clashed with regime troops this week.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the government forces sent to Maaloula include tanks and armored personnel carriers. Rami Abdul-Rahman says that they have taken up positions outside the village, which is still under the control of local pro-regime militias.
Al-Qaida-linked rebel factions attacked Maaloula on Wednesday, and briefly entered the mountainside sanctuary before withdrawing late Thursday.
Abdul-Rahman says the two sides were skirmishing around the village on Friday.
The attack on Maaloula spotlighted fears among Syria's religious minorities about the growing role of extremists in the rebel ranks fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad's regime.

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 11 Sep 2013 14:29

Syria agrees to give up its chemical weapons
11/09 02:46 CET
http://www.euronews.com/2013/09/11/syri ... l-weapons/
Syria has accepted a Russian proposal to give up chemical weapons and even to join an international convention on the prohibition of such armaments.
It was a major announcement by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem, whose government until now has refused to acknowledge they had any.
“We are ready to reveal the location of our chemical weapons, halt the production of them and also show these facilities to representatives of Russia, other states and to the United Nations. Our adherence to the Russian initiative has the purpose of halting the possession of all chemical weapons.”
But the White House wants a United Nations resolution to back the proposals, with the option of military force to make sure Syria complies – something which Russia’s president has said is unacceptable.
“This all just makes sense if the United States rejects the use of force, because it’s difficult to force any country – Syria or any other country in the world – to disarm unilaterally when there is military action being prepared against it,” said President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile Syria’s President Bashar al Assad continues to deny his forces were responsible for the alleged chemical attack last month and has warned of serious repercussions if the US launches any military strikes.

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 12 Sep 2013 15:37

Free Syrian Army rejects Russian plan for chemical arms
The rebel Free Syrian Army categorically rejected Thursday a Russian proposal for placing Syria's chemical arms under international control, and called for regime officials to be brought to justice.
The Syrian National Coalition opposition group also questioned the initiative, saying it is a "political manoeuvre aimed at buying time" for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"The Free Syrian Army announces its categorical rejection of the Russian initiative that foresees placing chemical weapons under international control," FSA military commander General Selim Idriss said in a video posted on YouTube.
Idriss told world powers they should not "be satisfied only by removing the chemical weapon, which is the tool of a crime, but judge the author of the crime before the International Criminal Court, who has clearly acknowledged possessing it and agreed to get rid of it."
Questioning the motives for the initiative by Russia, a close ally of Assad, the Coalition's overnight statement also said it would be unacceptable unless it "called to account the crimes against the Syrian people."
And any measures should be adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for possible military measures.
It said that if the "response to Syria of the international community is not efficient and effective, Iran, North Korea and the militia of Hezbollah (Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement and an Assad ally) will consider it a green light to manufacture and use chemical weapons."
Idriss also called on countries backing the 30-month uprising against Assad to increase the supply of arms to the rebels so that they can "continue to liberate the country".
And he exhorted his fighters to "intensify operations in all regions of the country".
The United States claims that the regime carried out chemical weapons strikes on a number of Damascus suburbs on August 21, killing more than 1,400 people and threatened to carry out punitive strikes.
Assad's government denies that, saying it was rebels that did so.
Russia on Monday announced a proposal under which Syria would turn over its chemical weapons, and US President Barack Obama postponed any military action to consider the Russian initiative.
The four-point plan, details of which were disclosed on Wednesday, would see Syria becoming a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, according to a report in Moscow.
Syria would then have to declare the location of chemical weapons arsenals and, then allow OPCW inspectors to examine them and finally decide, in cooperation with the inspectors, how to destroy them.
UN inspectors have already visited the sites of the alleged attacks in Damascus, and France has said their report will probably be issued on Monday.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio Thursday "it will say that there was a chemical massacre" and that "there will certainly be indications" of the origin of the attack.
(AFP)

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 25 Sep 2013 12:28

Rebels slam opposition
By BASSEM MROUE
— Sep. 25 5:55 AM EDT
BEIRUT (AP) — Several Syrian rebel groups, including a powerful al-Qaida-linked faction, said Wednesday they reject the authority of the Western-backed opposition coalition, as U.N. inspectors returned to the country to continue their probe into chemical weapons attacks.
In a joint statement, 13 rebel groups led by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front slammed the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition, saying it no longer represents their interests.
The statement reflects the lack of unity between the political opposition, based in exile, and the disparate rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad's regime. Syria's civil war has killed over 100,000 people so far.
The statement also called on all those trying to topple Assad's government to unite under a "clear Islamic framework" — an apparent reference to the al-Qaida faction's aspirations to create an Islamic state in Syria.

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Nelasītas ziņa tas_pats_lv » 13 Nov 2013 17:10

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/n ... cus-suburb
Syrian troops capture rebel-held suburb south of Damascus
Town of Hejeira is latest suburb of capital to fall into government hands, and Assad forces making inroads near Aleppo
Syrian troops captured a contested suburb of Damascus on Wednesday as the government forged ahead with a military offensive that has already taken four other opposition strongholds south of the capital, state media said.
For more than a year, much of the belt of neighbourhoods and towns just south of Damascus has been a rebel bastion and a key arms conduit for the opposition. But government forces – bolstered by fighters from Lebanon's Shia militant group Hezbollah and Shia militants from Iraq – have made significant headway in the area in recent weeks.
The advances could give the government a stronger position in proposed peace talks that the US and Russia have been trying to convene since May.
On Wednesday the town of Hejeira became the latest rebel-held suburb to fall into government hands. The state news agency Sana said the army had seized control of the town but was still battling rebels on its outskirts.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces were in control of most of Hejeira but there were still small pockets of resistance.
Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV, which had a reporter embedded with Syrian government forces in the offensive, broadcast what it said were live images from the streets of Hejeira, showing shattered storefronts, sandbags piled at street corners and the gutted concrete hulks of apartment buildings.
The opposition's hold on Hejeira became untenable after the military captured the adjacent town of Sabina in recent days.
While the government has driven the rebels from several of their footholds around the capital, the opposition is still within striking distance of the centre of Damascus, and fires barrages of mortar rounds into the city daily.
On Wednesday mortar shells slammed into the Bab Touma and Zablatani neighbourhoods of Damascus, killing at least two people and wounding 20 others. The Observatory put the death toll at three.
In addition to its advances on the periphery of Damascus, the government has made inroads in recent weeks outside the northern city of Aleppo. Government forces have wrested back a military base near the city's international airport as well as two towns along the road south-east of the airfield.
The Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said government helicopters were dropping barrel bombs on rebel positions in Tel Hasel, the sole town along the road still in opposition hands.
Aleppo has been a major battlefield in the Syrian conflict since last summer when rebels launched an offensive on the city. More than a year later it is now carved up into rebel- and government-held areas, and fighting has left much of the city in ruins.
The rebels are clearly concerned about the government's latest push: a group of six prominent rebel brigades has called for all fighters in the city to come together to repel the military offensive, activists say.
The armed opposition in Aleppo and the surrounding countryside has been crippled by recent infighting, which has undermined the rebels in their efforts to oust the president, Bashar al-Assad.
The government offensive falls against the backdrop of diplomatic efforts to convene a peace conference in Geneva to find a political solution to the conflict.
The main western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said this week it was ready to attend the proposed peace talks but only if certain conditions were met. It wants the government to allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged areas and to release political prisoners, demands the Assad government is unlikely to meet.
The prospects for the conference are further muddied by a dispute over a potential transitional government. The opposition, which has little support inside Syria, wants any future transitional government to exclude Assad and his close allies, a demand the Syrian government has rejected.

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