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Entries in George Sabra (12)


Syria Today: Opposition Repeats --- No Participation in International "Peace" Conference

Government forces move through Qusayr, captured by the Syrian military last Wednesday

State TV: Documents Show Qatar Asked Insurgents to Defend Qusayr to Protect Israel

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Syria Today: Last Chance for Opposition "Unity" in Istanbul Talks

Opposition Representatives at This Week's Talks Oppositions Appeals for Help in Besieged Qusayr and Damascus Suburb

Insurgent commanders in the besieged town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, have appealed for help and warned of dire consequences if it does not arrive:

If all rebel fronts do not move to stop this crime being led by Hezbollah and Assad's traitorous army of dogs...we will soon be saying that there was once a city called Qusayr.

Malek Ammar, an opposition activist in Qusayr, said, "The town is surrounded and there's no way to bring in medical aid."

Ammar said about 100 of 700 wounded needed oxygen: "What we need [insurgent units] to do is come to the outskirts of the city and attack the checkpoints so we can get routes in and out of the city."

Qusayr has been under sustained shelling and attacks for almost two weeks. On Wednesday, the Syrian military captured the nearby airbase of Dabba, cutting off the town on all sides and bolstering their positions.

Elsewhere, insurgents blockaded in the eastern Ghouta, east of Damascus, appealed for help on Facebook, claiming Assad's forces were "preparing to commit more massacres".

The fighters said they held the opposition Syrian National Coalition, whose members have spent a week arguing in Istanbul over the orgnaisation of the leadership, responsible for their plight.

George Sabra, the acting head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, has confirmed that the group will not attend any international "peace" conference.

However, whereas the Coalition's formal declaration on Wednesday emphasised its demand that President Assad step down as part of any transitional government, Sabra's statement said the condition was the international community's intervention to end the Syrian military's siege of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border.

Then Sabra declared, "The National Coalition will not take part in any international conference or any such efforts so long as the militias of Iran and Hezbollah continue their invasion of Syria."

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Syria Today: More Noise About "Peace Talks" --- But Does It Matter?

Claimed footage of insurgents moving from Aleppo to the embattled town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border --- see The Battle of Qusayr update below

Almost 40% of Population In Need of Aid

Senior United Nations official Panos Moumtzis has said that the total number of people in need of assistance is now 8.3 million, about 38% of Syria's population.

Moumtsis, the regional coordinator for Syrian refugees, said about 6.8 million people were in need inside the country while 1.5 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Moumtzis said the humanitarian situation in Syria has been “rapidly spiralling downwards” since the start of the year: “UNHCR [UN High Commission for Refugees] is now very much worried about the coming summer months and in particular the increase in temperatures and the associated health problems linked to water and sanitation."

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Syria 1st-Hand: The Bombings That Broke "Peaceful" Salamiyeh

Aftermath of the car bomb that killed 42 in Salamiyeh, 22 January 2013

For two years Salamiyeh, the Ismaili-majority city 20 miles east of Hama, has skirted much of the violence unleashed on its neighbors despite hosting large anti-government protests. It’s created an environment of political tolerance that differs from Assad regime strongholds and territories held by rebels.

But a series of bombings there, and the looming entry of rebel forces, is poised to bring this quiet city of 75,000 into Syria’s civil war, and risks fraying Salamiyeh’s sectarian harmony that served as an example for the nation before and during the revolution.

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Syria Live Coverage: Fighting Near Damascus and Its Airport

2200 GMT: Al Safira. Earlier we reported about heavy fighting on the outskirts of the Al Safira military base, a massive base east of Aleppo that houses a massive suspected chemical weapons stockpile (update 1526). The LCC reports that the people of the town have paid a heavy price:

The number of martyrs in the towns of Tal Aaran and Tal Hasel has risen to 20 martyrs and 40 wounded people during the air strikes by regime forces using cluster and vacuum bombs.

However, it's not just civilians who have paid a heavy price. According to various opposition sources, 7 armored vehicles and a jet fighter have been destroyed by the rebels. This video reportedly shows some of the destroyed vehicles, part of a larger convoy:

This video is entitled "Mujahideen heroes are targeting Assad tanks."

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Pressure Builds On Assad

Aftermath of the shelling of the Al-Shifa hospital in Aleppo in Syria on Wednesday --- at least 15 people were killed and 20 wounded (see 1009 GMT)

See also Gaza Live Coverage: A Ceasefire is Declared --- Now What?
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Damascus Shakes as Assad Regime Wobbles

1735 GMT: Egypt. Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei is not happy about President Morsi's orders:

1650 GMT: Egypt. President Morsi has issued a series of wide-ranging orders on the political and legal fronts.

Morsi has commanded the retrials of all executives and politicians of the Mubarak regime accused of "committing crimes against the Revolution". He has extended the deadline by two months for drafting of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly, plagued by divisions. He has ruled that the Assembly and the Shura Council cannot be dissolved by a court, and he has replaced the Prosector General.

Morsi also declared that his decrees cannot be reversed by a court.

Journalist Ahmed Aboul Enein summarises critically:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: New Opposition Coalition Formed "In Principle"

2015 GMT: Syria. The new opposition umbrella Syrian National Coaliation has chosen Damascus cleric Moaz al-Khatib as its head.

Al-Khatib, the former Sunni Muslim imam of the Umayyad Mosque, left the country for Cairo in July after several periods of detention.

Leading dissident Riad Seif said a "12-point agreement" had been sealed. Proposals include an assembly of 55-60 members, with representation for ethnic Kurds, Christians, Alawites, and women, and from the SNC. The new body will also have a military council that will include the Free Syrian Army.

The Syrian National Council, the previous umbrella leadership, was reportedly given a deadline of 10:00 (0700 GMT) to join the Coalition or risk being left out.

Bassem Said Ishak of the SNC said the Kurds required 48 hours to get the approval of their leadership.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: What Happened to the Syrian National Initiative for a New Opposition?

Former MP Jawad Fairouz, one of 31 people whose citizenship was revoked by the Bahraini regime (see 0635 and 1125 GMT), speaks with the BBC

See also Syria Feature: Latest on Fighting Among Free Syrian Army, Kurdish Militias, and Regime Forces
Yemen Feature: How A Country Was Lost in Obama's "War Laboratory"
Syria Audio Special: Regime's Leadership Defiant as Opposition's Disintegrates --- James Miller and Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Opposition Still Seeking Leadership

1530 GMT: Turkey. Six leading Kurdish politicians have joined hundreds of jailed militants and activists in a hunger strike, now in its 60th day.

About 700 Kurdish prisoners in dozens of facilities are calling for the leader of the PKK insurgency, Abdullah Ocalan, who is imprisoned on an island south of Istanbul, to have access to lawyers after 15 months of no contact.

Osman Baydemir, mayor of Diyarbakir in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey, said in a statement on Saturday that he had stopped eating. Five Kurdish members of the Turkish Parliament --- Sirri Sureyya Onder, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Gultan Kisanak, Aysel Tugluk, Adil Kurt, Sabahat Tuncer --- were also on hunger strike, he said.

The hunger strikers are consuming sugared water and vitamins that will prolong their lives and the protest.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Unavoidable Change on the Ground

See also Saturday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 10,000s March Outside Manama

2128 GMT: Yemen. At least eight people have been killed by a US drone strike on two vehicles in Radaa in the centre of the country.

"Five were killed and eight injured and we are still investigating who these men are and in what way they were linked to al Qaeda," one official said.

Three women were also killed in the strike, a local tribal chief claimed. He said that the strike had targeted Abdulraouf al-Dahab, a local al-Qaeda leader, but that it failed to kill him.

Some tribesmen and military officials said that no fighters had been killed in the air strike, in which 14 civilians, including three women and three children, died. The officials said Sunday's airstrikes were based on faulty intelligence that the passengers were al-Qaeda members.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Battle of Rastan

1932 GMT: Syria. Another bloody day in Syria - the LCCS reports that 63 people have been killed today nationwide:

33 martyrs in Idlib, 8 martyrs in Homs, 7 martyrs in Deir Ezzor, 5 martyrs in Hama, 4 martyrs in Damascus Suburbs "Qalamoun - Qudsaya - Douma - Al-Tal", 4 Martyrs in Banyas, one martyr in Hasakeh and one martyr in Daraa "Daeel".

1924 GMT: Syria. Residents of Deir Ez Zor reported on Twitter that regime armored vehicles moved into the city in force today. Several of them were harassing residents, and security forces were making widespread arrests. The driver of the BMP vehicle in this video decided that it was in the best interest of national security to run over parked cars.

The strategy didn't work - as you'll find out if you watch to the end of the video:

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