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Entries in Elisabeth Hoff (2)


Syria Live Coverage: US "Non-Lethal" Assistance --- and More --- for the Insurgency 

2027 GMT: Closer to a Diplomatic Solution? Long-time readers will know that we've never been confident that a political settlement to this crisis was possible. However, it does appear that such a solution has never stood a better chance than it does today. As one reader suggested to me on Twitter, the SANA response to John Kerry's saber-rattling was "not very strong, leaving a breathing space" in which negotiations could take place. In fact, the same reader reminds us that Moaz al Khatbib's first demand has been met today, an extension of foreign passports, potentially signifying that the regime is clearing the way to have some dialogue with the opposition:

State news agency SANA said the Ministry of Interior extended the validity of Syrian passports to 10 years from six and that all expired passports for Syrian nationals abroad would be renewed for two years.

Syrian expatriates are unable to travel on expired passports and many Syrians abroad complain they have faced problems in renewing or getting residency visas for out-of-date documents.

Moaz al-Khatib, head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said he would speak to Assad's representatives if expired passports were extended for two years. He also demanded 160,000 prisoners be released prior to talks.

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Syria Live Coverage: A "Humanitarian Tragedy"

2120 GMT: Jet Shot Down in Damascus? All day we've been tracking reports of a jet shot down in Damascus. The only problem is that it's unclear a jet ever crashed. However, a reader, Amir, finds this video. Much of it is a collection of videos from today that we have seen. The clip we had not seen is at about the 2:30 mark, when an explosion on the horizon, followed my a smoke cloud, reportedly shows the moment the jet crashed.

We're still not 100% sure what happened, though there are plenty of rumors that the pilot, a Russian, has been captured. We'd treat this as straight rumor until a video is released.

2105 GMT: Battle for Ashrafiyeh District of Aleppo. The rebels have set their sights on another district in norther-central in Aleppo, the Ashrafiyeh District. A microblogger finds several videos, including the one below which appear to show rebels firing mortars at Assad positions from the nearby railway (map):

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