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Monday
Mar182013

Syria Live Coverage: Opposition Gathers to Name A Prime Minister

Claimed footage of insurgents hitting a regime tank in Idlib Province

See also Syria Video Discussion: Two Years After the Start of the Uprising
Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Dozens Arrested in Cairo Protests
Sunday's Syria Live Coverage: Fighting Escalates Near Damascus


2122 GMT: Jabhat al-Nusra Victory? The Islamist insurgency Jabhat al-Nusra is claiming the capture of a large ammunition dump near Khan Touman in Aleppo Province.

2110 GMT: Damascus. An opposition Facebook page has claimed "a number of 120mm heavy caliber mortars...in a joint operation coordinated with battalions operating in Damascus".

Targets included the Presidential Palace, Damascus International Airport, and security buildings.

"The operation comes in conjunction with the second anniversary of the start of our revolution, which is a revolution of freedom and dignity against the despotic regime of the criminal Bashar al-Assad," the statement said.

Claimed footage of the shelling of Damascus international airport:

1829 GMT: Lebanon. The US State Department has confirmed that regime aircraft fired rockets into northern Lebanonin "a significant escalation" of conflict.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said:

We can confirm what you are seeing in the press, that regime jets and helicopters did fire rockets into northern Lebanon. This constitutes a significant escalation in the violations of Lebanese sovereignty that the Syrian regime has been guilty of. These kins of violations of sovereignty are absolutely unacceptable.

1822 GMT: Damascus. Activists have claimed insurgent attacks on points in Damascus today --- the Local Coordination Committees points to this video of supposed firing on the Conference Palace in the capital:

Claimed targeting of the Azar Tower:

1645 GMT: Lebanon. More on Syria's bombing, the first in the conflict, of areas on the Lebanese border....

"Syrian planes bombed the border between Lebanon and Syria but I cannot yet say if they hit Lebanese territory or only Syrian territory," a "high-ranking" Lebanese military official said.

However, a Lebanese security services official on the ground confirmed that the warplanes had fired four missiles against Syrian insurgent positions on the Lebanese side of the border, targeting the town of Arsal.

Lebanon's National News Agency reported: “Syrian warplanes bombed the outskirts of the towns of Khirbet Younin and Wadi al-Khayl in Arsal's barren mountains."

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said the warplane had targeted two barns used by insurgents in the Wadi al-Khayl area of Arsal.

Local resident Suheil Fliti told AFP that the missiles had fallen in an agricultural area and there were no injuries in the incident.

1445 GMT: Lebanon. Syrian air force jets have fired four rockets at a remote section of the border with Lebanon.

Some outlets are reporting the attack was by helicopters, rather than jets.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the air strike near the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal, whose residents have supported insurgents.

0915 GMT: Assad on the Conflict. According to visitors, President Assad admitted, “The battle is still long because we are fighting terrorism which all the forces in the world have failed to defeat,” while declaring, "But things have become much better at both the political and military levels.”

According to the Lebanese daily As Safir, quoting the visitors, Assad admitted that the Islamist Jahbat al-Nusra Front had “overpowered” the State on a number of occasions; however, he insisted, "Our situation remains much better than the situation of those fighting the state, whether inside or outside Syria, and their supporters.”

The President reportedly said, “We will engage in dialogue with those who want dialogue, [but not if] they are terrorists, but based on our own principles and we did not accept conditions imposed on us at the start of the crisis and we will not do so [now]."

He continued with a declaration of the weakness of opposing political forces based outside the country:

Every day, we witness more disintegration of the opposition....Let them agree first and then we will see what to do.

We already launched dialogue with the internal opposition and talks have led to positive results, and we said that Syria’s doors are open to everyone except terrorists, who we will keep fighting to the end.

0627 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees report 119 people were killed on Sunday, including 52 in Damascus and its suburbs and 18 in Aleppo Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records 52,880 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 158 from Monday. Of the dead, 42.527 were civilians, an increase of 100 from yesterday.

0620 GMT: Opposition. The opposition Syrian National Coalition opens a two-day meeting today in Istanbul, hoping to name a Prime Minister to run an interim government in insurgent-held areas.

Spokesman Khalid Saleh said there are 12 candidates for the post, most of technocrats and experts in  economy and business. He said at least two live in areas held by President Assad's forces.

Two previous attempts to name a Prime Minister were postponed because of divisions within the Coalition.

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