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Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting from Damascus to Idlib

Protest in Kafranbel on Friday: "Peoples always win over their tyrants. The Syrians are not an exception. Watch your steps."

See also Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Overnight Clashes In and Beyond Cairo
Friday's Syria Live Coverage: Watching the Attack in Damascus

2120 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees have updated today's death toll to 145, including ten children and eight women.

Of the casualties, 54 were in Damascus and its suburbs and 45 were in Aleppo Province.

1702 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees report 98 people have been killed today, including 44 in Aleppo Province and 31 in Damascus and its suburbs.

1232 GMT: Deaths in Aleppo. Footage has been posted of bodies abandoned on the streets of Syria's largest city.

1221 GMT: Turning Against Free Syrian Army in Aleppo. Stephen Sotloff of Syria Deeply writes:

Every night thousands of people gather outside Aleppo’s bakeries to buy their daily bag of bread. Syria’s civil war has transformed the formerly routine transaction into a six hour process.

Disruptions in flour and gas deliveries have created bottlenecks that managers cannot solve. Customers jockey for position, a scene reminiscent of a Texas cattle auction.

But when a fighter from the Free Syrian Army barges into the crowd, people around him scatter like bowling pins.

As he darts to the head of the line, men who have been waiting for more than four hours jeer. “What makes them so special?” asks Muhammad Sharqi, also in line. “They cause our suffering and now get to exploit it for their own ends?”

What’s clear is that as the grisly battle for Aleppo enters its sixth month, its residents are slowly losing faith in the FSA.

The stalemate on the front lines has turned some against the group. But for many, it is the FSA’s dismal track record with society that has them snickering at the sight of every rebel vehicle that blows through their neighborhood, seizing, residents say, the choicest culinary goods and harassing civilians who cross them.

Meanwhile, widespread shortages in basic necessities – including heating oil and gas, for which people are desperate as temperatures plummet – have fueled a thriving black market, where prices have skyrocketed.

1215 GMT: The Deserted Christian Town. Karen Leigh of Syria Deeply posts a photo essay from the largely-Christian town of Al-Ghassanieh in Latakia Province:

Many of its residents have fled the violence; others have stayed and just stay inside. The regime has stepped up the frequency of attacks, according to the mayor. In one case, rockets blared into one of the village churches. What struck me most about Al-Ghassanieh were its empty streets, the total absence of life. As we walked, our voices carried, the only ones you could hear.

1205 GMT: A Palestinian Protester's Story. Michael Weiss posts an interview with Bilal Zaiter, a Palestinian from Damascus who has endured two detentions and interrogations but is now in Beirut. An extract:

These people --- I mean the mukhabarat [State Security] --- are now scared people. They are weak creatures like we all were for decades. I cannot say they are monsters to legitimate killing them; this is what many of them do to the rebels. I cannot dehumanize them to make any crime against them seem ethical. In brief, they did to me far less harm than they did to many people whose stories I heard about.

They beat me but I am still alive. They blindfolded me, but I still can witness and write. They insulted my family, but my family still loves me and I love them. They insulted me, and they managed to make a part of me aggressive, and this is what I am working to recover from as soon as possible.

Zaiter says concisely of the situation near and in Damascus, "People’s morale is down. Those with arms are in a much stronger position now than the civil resistance. Indeed, civil resistance is muted."

1150 GMT: Tension in Damascus. Jean-Pierre Duthion. a French consultant living in the capital, reports on heightened security and fighting:

1050 GMT: Cleric Killed. State news agency SANA reports that Sheikh Abdullatif al-Jamili was killed on Friday in a mortar attack by "terrorists" on Salahuddin Mosque in the al-Ashrafiya neighbourhood in Aleppo.

State media said at least eight people were killed in another mortar attack.

1045 GMT: The Regime Line. Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi has said on State TV, "We believe in the ability of the Syrian national serious dialogue on the land of Syria without preconditions, without exclusion of anyone, with the will and intentions of the Syrians to make a success and reach the aspired-for outcomes."

However, State news agency SANA's summary makes no reference to a response by al-Zoubi to the declaration of Moaz al-Khatib, head of the opposition National Coalition, that he is willing to enter negotiations if the regime meets conditions such as the release of political prisoners.

Instead, al-Zoubi appeared to set his own conditions, saying that "regional countries' commitment to stopping the smuggling of weapons and gunmen to Syria would help ensure the success of the political programme to resolve the crisis".

0555 GMT: Fighting. Our story of the week --- the insurgent attacks near and in Damascus --- continued on Friday, but it was joined by reports of conflicts across the country.

In the capital, opposition fighters clashed with regime forces in Jobar, while the regime kept trying to maintain pressure on the insurgents --- or at least check them from their attacks --- with bombardment of opposition-held suburbs.

In Idlib Province in the north, the insurgency opened up a series of fronts to take regime bases before a push on Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughour. Rana Abouzeid of Time summarised, "If the rebels succeed, they will have created the first liberated province in Syria, an area completely free of regime forces and a de facto safe zone — without direct international help."

Fighting continued near the regime base in Safira, where insurgents reportedly took heavy losses this week. The Assad military shelled sections of Aleppo, while Kurdish forces allied with the insurgency attacked regime positions elsewhere in the city.

The Local Coordination Committees claimed 121 people  were killed on Saturday, including 42 in Damascus and its suburbs and 32 in Aleppo Province.

The opposition organisation also reported 245 protests across the country yesterday.


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