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Sunday
Jan202013

Syria Live Coverage: "Darayya is Being Pounded to Dust"

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton on Syrians decimating forests to survive the winter

See also Algeria (and Beyond) Coverage: Gas Plant Siege Ends with 23 Hostages, 32 Attackers Killed
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: UN Human Rights Chief Calls for War Crimes Investigation


2029 GMT: A Town After the Bombardment. Al Jazeera English's Basma Atassi reports:

The centre of Salqin in northern Syria looked deceptively normal, just a day after the town came under lethal government air strikes.

Shops were open for business. Residents strolled through the main square. Children could be seen playing in the narrow streets.

Yet a closer look at the streets of Salqin revealed the brutal scars of war. Away from the square, sidewalks were stained with blood and littered with broken glass.

Residents said six people were killed when government forces attacked the rebel-held town bordering Turkey on Friday. Dozens of people were injured, locals said, including many children.

Three siblings --- Basel, 12, Doriyeh, 10, and Raghad, 8 --- were injured by shrapnel as a rocket detonated near their home while they played.

2023 GMT: Turkish PM Sees Victory Ahead. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared, "A conquest is very near for the Syrian people, I see it on the horizon. The oppressors should not continue occupying their seats.”

The Prime Minister addressed people in the town of Nizip in Gaziantep Province, which border Syria's Aleppo Province, before visiting refugees: “You are taking care of the refugees, you have a connection with them. You have opened your arms [to the Syrian people] as a dictator is chasing his own people out. You have done what really befits our nation.”

Erdogan continued, “They [the Syrian regime] are examples of an understanding that can name their own people ‘terrorists.' On the contrary, the Syrian people are resisting violence, struggling against a dictator that deprives them of their rights in order to regain their rights. Syrians are just struggling to live with dignity and to live in peace."

1938 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim 100 people have been killed today, including 73 in Damascus and its suburbs, 27 in Idlib Province, and 25 in Homs Province.

1538 GMT: Bombing. Claimed footage of the continued bombing of the Jobar section of Damascus:

Graphic footage has been posted of those injured in the attacks.

1530 GMT: The Opposition Talks. The opposition National Coaliation, in its second day of talks in Istanbul, has tried to name a Prime Minister-in-exile.

An official said, however, that differences have emerged between Coalition membersp, including over who should lead the new executive: "A proposal was made to name Riad Hijab but it has run into much criticism."

Hijab briefly served as Prime Minister under President Bashar al-Assad before he defected last August. He is now based in Jordan.

1140 GMT: Destruction in Homs. The al-Khalidiya section of Homs:

1040 GMT: Clashes in Kurdish Areas. The Ras al-Ain branch of the Kurdish National Council has called on the Syrian opposition to intervene over an ongoing "jihadist" assault on the northern city, located on the Turkish border.

"Since Wednesday morning, some armed groups have launched an offensive against innocent and unarmed civilians in Ras al-Ain using various types of heavy weapons and sowing fear and panic among children and women," a statement said on Saturday. "We condemn these cowardly attacks and call on the National Coalition, the Syrian National Council and the Free (Syrian) Army to pressure these militants to stop this criminal war, which is detrimental to the principles and objectives of the Syrian revolution."

The Ras-al-Ain council said hardline rebels were indiscriminately shelling the town with tanks and called on Turkish authorities to "stop interfering and supporting armed groups to implement their own agenda". It added, "We ask our fellow Syrians inside and outside the country to stand beside their brethren in Ras al-Ain."

0920 GMT: Car Bombs. An activist asserts that the Islamist insurgency Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for four car bombings in Idlib Province which killed civilians.

0720 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim that 136 people were killed on Saturday, including 47 in Damascus and its suburbs and 30 in Aleppo Province.

0705 GMT: Devastation of a Suburb. There was politics on both the regime and opposition sides on Saturday, but we begin with the snapshot of war from Bill Neely of Britain's ITV.

Neely reached the outskirts of the Damascus suburb of Darayya, and in one incisive article, he portrayed weeks of destruction while dismantling the propaganda that the regime was now in "control" of the town.

Daraya is being pounded to dust. It is itself a victim of a war that is swallowing its people.

A week ago the Syrian government said its forces had captured most of Daraya from rebels who've been holding most of the suburb for the last year or so. "It will be safe within a few days,” one official said.

One week on, it's clear they are not capturing it and it is not safe.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem put out the offer that, if insurgents put down their arms, they could join the discussion of a political transition: "The national dialogue is transparent and guaranteed and if the participants wanted to build a new Syria, they would be welcome."

At the same time, al-Moallem guaranteed that his apparent would go nowhere by insisting that President Assad would not step aside for that transition: "No one should dare discuss the position of the President ... this is unacceptable."

In Istanbul, the opposition National Coalition met to discuss their own plans to form a transitional government.

Leading opposition campaigner Kamal al-Labwani said, "The coalition is a legislature and we need an executive. There have been lots of mistakes and the people we are supposed to represent inside feel marginalised."

There were no immediate outcomes from the gathering.

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