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Syria Today: Assad Declares Victory and a Fight Against Israel

See also Syria Analysis: A 5-Point Guide to Assad Interview --- Is He Right To Declare Victory?
Syria Audio Analysis: The Real Importance of the "Russian Missiles to Syria" Story
Syria Video & Transcript: President Assad's Interview with Al-Manar TV
Iran Today: IRGC Commander Says Syrian Government, Nation "Modeled Itself On Iran"
Thursday's Syria Today: Last Chance for Opposition "Unity" in Istanbul Talks

President Assad took centre stage last night with a half-hour interview broadcast by Al-Manar TV, the outlet of Lebanon's Hezbollah organisation.

What mattered in Assad's presentation was not substance --- there was little of that --- but tone. Specifically, he linked an assertion of "victory" to a wider, diversionary cause: "resistance" against Israel.

We explain why --- and what it means for the Syrian conflict --- in a separate analysis. We also have the video and transcript of the full interview.

Lebanese Parliament Delays Elections to November 2014

Lebanon's Parliament has voted to extend its mandate and delay elections scheduled for June after failing to adopt a new electoral law.

The motion for a 17-month extension was passed unanimously by the 98 members of the 128-seat house who attended on Friday. It said the delay was due to "the security situation in several Lebanese regions that gives rise to political escalation and division which often take on confessional forms".

Fuad Siniora, the opposition head in parliament, said: "We were forced to vote on this bad project to avoid a vacuum and after unrest in several regions and the serious negative development" of Hezbollah's involvement in the Syria conflict.

Amid the months-long delay over a new electoral law, Prime Minister Tamman Salam, who was named on 6 April, has been unable to form a new Government because of divisions over Syria.

British Man Among 3 Western Nationals Killed by Regime Forces

Syrian TV has broadcast, from a passport, the identity of the British man among the three Western nationals killed by regime forces on Wednesday. According to the passport, he is Ali Almanasfi, 22 years old and born in London.

The Foreign Office has confirmed the death of a British national, although it did not give any details.

An insurgent commander told Mona Mahmood of The Guardian of the attack that killed Almanasfi, American Nicole Mansfield, and a third foreigner near the city of Idlib:

We'd been engaged in several shoot-outs with shabiha forces [pro-regime militia] in the area. We launched an attack against a Government checkpoint and managed to kill several shabiha.

Another group of rebels came from the Al-Akrad mountains in Lattakia to join us. They made a mistake. They wanted to avoid the centre of Idlib [controlled by government forces] and instead took a back route through the suburbs. But they didn't know there was a Syrian army checkpoint; they didn't get the information. The army shot up their car and the British guy was killed.

Fighting In Qusayr

Activists in the embattled town of al-Qusayr in Homs have said that the Syrian army has launched airstrikes on the town.

This video, by insurgent group Liwa al-Haq, purports to show insurgents targeting a regime tank in Qusayr.

Fighters Arrive in Qusayr to Support Opposition

Opposition sources have said that hundreds of rebel reinforcements have reached the strategic town of Al-Qusayr to help hold it against government forces.

The opposition National Coalition's interim leader George Sabra told reporters in Istanbul that "Around 1,000 fighters from across Syria" have arrived to bolster the rebels, while Liwa al-Tawhid, a Qatari-backed armed group close to the Muslim Brotherhood, said on its Facebook page that its fighters had reached the besieged town.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has also stated that “hundreds” of rebels have broken through army lines near the village of Shamsinn, northeast of Al-Qusayr, after losing 11 fighters.

FSA Fighter To CNN: "We Can't Hold Out In Qusayr"

CNN Arabic reports comments from a Free Syrian Army fighter, named as Abu Hussein, who told the news outlet that the insurgents would not be able to hold out for long against Assad's forces and Hezbollah, particularly since they lack equipment, medical gear and drinking water.

Abu Hussein was quoted as saying: "I do not think we can win this battle… we cannot fight before a large number of armored vehicles and intensive missile strikes are hitting us from all sides, especially from Hezbollah positions."

”Western Nationals Killed”: Update

Details are emerging about Nicole Lynn Mansfield, an American woman killed by Syrian government forces in Idlib Province on Wednesday as reported by Syrian State media.

Members of Mansfield’s family, who have been spoken to by the FBI, told reporters that she converted to Islam several years ago after marrying an unnamed Arab immigrant, whom she later divorced after he received a green card allowing permanent residence in the United States.

The Syrian media report showed Mansfield’s driving license, with her address in Flint, Michigan, alongside rifles, clips of ammunition, grenades and the flag of al-Nusra.

"Western Nationals Killed by Syrian Forces"

Syrian State media is claiming that three Western nationals, including an American woman and a British man, were killed by regime forces in Idlib Province on Wednesday.


The Local Coordination Committees claim 118 people were killed on Thursday, including 45 in Damascus and its suburbs, 23 in Aleppo Province, and 21 in Homs Province.

The Violations Documentation Center reports that 62,113 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 2011, an increase of 115 from Thursday. Of the deaths, 48,165 were civilians, a rise of 46 from yesterday.

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