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Entries in Michel Kilo (8)


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: An Opposition in Disarray?

Opposition Spokesman Louay al-Safi (Akin Celiktas/Reuters)Iranian Lines of Credit to Damascus

The Syrian Central Bank has said that Iran has opened two lines of credit totaling $4 billion to Damascus and plans on opening up a third.

"Iran continues to support Syria, by opening one line of credit worth a billion dollars to finance the import of different items and another line of credit worth three billion dollars to finance the purchase of petrol and associated products," Central Bank Governor Adib Mayale said.

Mayale said Iran was considering an additional loan of $3 billion to bolster the Syrian economy amid war and international sanctions.

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Syria Feature: The Conflict --- and Truce --- Between Insurgents and Kurds in Ras al-Ain

Fighters in Ras al-Ain (Photo: Reuters)

Kurdish and Arab militias waged a bitter battle for three months in the northern city of Ras Al Ayn, in Hassakeh province. Now, they’ve reached a truce that has managed to last into a third week, marking an early success for a nascent group of peacekeepers led by famed Christian dissident Michel Kilo....

The months of fighting in Ras Al Ain killed nearly 300 people. It took a diverse group of men and women, Kurds and Arabs, Alawites, Sunnis, Christians, tribal leaders and urbanites to broker Feb. 17’s tenuous peace.

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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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Syria (and Beyond) Coverage: UN --- Death Toll Passes 60,000

People run from a regime airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Douma --- activists report that there were 20 deaths

See also Libya Satire: A Beginner's Guide to Democacy...and Slapstick
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Aleppo Airport Is Briefly Closed

2044 GMT: Syria. An airstrike on the Jobar section of Homs today:

1726 GMT: Syria. Insurgents drive a captured regime in the Jabal al-Zawiya area:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: UN Envoy Annan Returns to Damascus

1818 GMT: Syria. Earlier we saw many reports of shells falling on the small town of Busrah al Harir, in Daraa province (map). Now, the LCC shares this video reportedly showing shells falling on the town:

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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Clampdown

1910 GMT: Ali Tarhouni, the Minister of Finance of the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council, says he is meeting with Obama Administration officials to establish a line of credit.

Tarhouni was a University of Washington lecturer until March, when he returned to opposition- held Libya.

1832 GMT: The Bahraini regime has expelled the Reuters correspondent, Frederik Richter, who had been based in the capital Manama since 2008.

Officials said Reuters had lacked balance in its reporting but could name another correspondent for accreditation by the Ministry of Information.

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Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Settling In for the Long Game

0132 GMT: We end tonight's liveblog with this report from Al Jazeera: 

 0036 GMT: There are reports of gunfire in Cairo. We cannot confirm where exactly it is coming from or who's shooting. 

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