Syria Today: Debates Over Foreign Fighters

Cartoon Depicting Hezbollah Firing On Syrian Opposition

PHOTO: Opposition poster denouncing Hezbollah involvement in Syria

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The main Syrian opposition bloc, the National Coordination Committee for the Forces of Democratic Change (NCB) called on Monday for all foreign fighters to leave Syria.

Bloc leader Hassan Abdul Azim said that “all non-Syrian parties taking part in the fighting on Syrian territory, no matter what party they are fighting beside”, should leave.

The call comes amid unconfirmed reports that Lebanese group Hezbollah has sent its forces to Aleppo. Hezbollah’s Lebanese-based TV station, al-Manar, which broadcasts pro-Hezbollah material, reported that the operation was named “the Storm of the North”.

Meanwhile, al-Hayat reports on Tuesday that Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has asked Iran to exercise its influence to withdraw Hezbollah from Syria.

The report claims Sleiman made a request to Tehran, via the Iranian ambassador in Beirut, and complained that Hezbollah’s participation in the fighting was “completely unacceptable according to all concepts and norms”. Citing “official sources”, the report said Sleiman asked the Iranian ambassador to convey to the leadership that Lebanese interference in Syrian was not justified and that the government did not agree to it.

Also on Tuesday, Lebanon’s al-Joumhouria reported that pro-Assad Baathist MP Assem Qanso has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has praised Hezbollah’s participation in the fighting, calling it “valuable”.

Qanso has previously claimed that al-Qaeda has infiltrated organizations in Lebanon, and said that if Assad falls, Syria will become a “breeding ground” for Islamic extremism.

UNHCR Talks To Germany About Refugee Resettlement

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said on Tuesday that United Nations refugee agency is in talks with Germany about resettling vulnerable Syrian refugees and is calling on other nations to help by matching the number that Germany agrees to absorb.

The Agency said that Germany had made an offer to take in 5,000 refugees back in March.

“UNHCR is calling on other states to complement the German offer with a further 5,000 places for humanitarian admissions, enabling a total of up to 10,000 highly vulnerable Syrians to find safety elsewhere,” the agency said in a statement.

According to Reuters, UNHCR is also talking to other European governments about resettling some of the 1.6 million Syrians who have fled the country. Edwards said the UN expects that number to swell to 3.45 million by the end of the year.

The 1.6 million known Syrian refugees have fled to the neighboring countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

UNHCR Reaches Out To Syrian Refugees In Egypt

UNHCR also said Tuesday that it is reaching out to the thousands of Syrian refugees in Egypt who are unaware of the benefits of registration.

Over 77,000 Syrian refugees — half of whom are women and children — are now in Egypt, which does not operate refugee camps. Until these people have registered as refugees, they must fend for themselves, the Agency said.

UNHCR highlighted the case of Fadl, an unemployed former chef with two teenage sons living with mental disability. The family are living in Sixth of October City near Cairo, where Fadl has not been able to find work and worries about paying the rent on his apartment.

The Agency quotes Fadl, 42, as saying he chose to flee to Egypt for several reasons:

We came to Egypt, not only because it was possible for us to come in legally, but also because we heard it was much cheaper than other places…I have a lot of extra expenses well beyond a normal family [because of his children].”

UNHCR said Fadl had not attempted to register as a refugee because he did not know how.

Mohamed Dayri, UNHCR’s representative in Egypt, said: “It is only recently that Syrians are starting to come forward to register. Many of them did not do so before out of fear or ignorance.”

Syrian State media: 14 dead, 31 wounded in two suicide bombings

Syrian State news agency SANA has said that 14 people were killed and a further 31 injured in two suicide bombings in Marjeh Square in Damascus.

SANA cited a “police source” as saying that the suicide bombers detonated their bombs near a police station.

The Syrian State news agency cited a Lebanese political analyst, Amin Hatit, as saying that terrorists had carried out the bombings as an “expression of despair and confusion” after “armed terrorist groups backed by the United States and some Arab and Western countries” had been defeated by the Syrian army.

SANA has posted a series of photographs — some graphic — of the square after the bombing, showing material damage and blood-strewn areas.

Damage in Marjeh Square, Damascus (SANA)

Russian Deputy FM: “If Geneva fails, Syria will be completely destroyed.”

In a joint interview with Lebanese daily Annahar and Kuwait’s al-Anba, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said Syria would be “completely destroyed” if next month’s international conference in Geneva fails to find a resolution to the conflict.

Bogdanov said it was “not true” that Russia is supporting the Shia camp against the Sunni camp, adding that “millions of our citizens are Muslims…we are against any sectarian war”.

Moscow’s position in Syria was that of “clear non-interference” of any party.

State TV Video: Aftermath Of Double Bombing In Damascus

Reports Of Double Bombing In Damascus

Syrian State TV is reporting news of two explosions in Marjeh Square in Damascus.

AFP report that al-Ikhbariya TV showed images of “badly damaged pavements and bloodied pavements”.

Egyptian outlet El-Wasat are reporting that one policeman and four civilians were killed in the first explosion, and the second caused damage only to vehicles.

Insurgents Fire Igla-1E Shoulder Mounted SAM At Regime Helicopter

Footage posted by the Armored Brigade Aleppo showing insurgents firing an Igla-1E (SA-16) man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile at a Syrian army Mi-8/17 Hip helicopter near Aleppo. The second video, posted earlier, shows the missile hitting the helicopter, but it is not clear if the helicopter is downed.

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Joanna Paraszczuk
Joanna Paraszczuk is EA WorldView's Managing Editor. An Israeli journalist, she covered Iran and the Arab World for The Jerusalem Post. Previously, she lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine. Joanna speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian and reads Persian and Arabic.


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    AFP via NOW – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may succeed in crushing the two-year-old uprising against his rule with the support of Iran and Hezbollah fighters from neighboring Lebanon, Israel’s intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz said on Monday.

    “It might be the case that, at the end of the day, Assad .. might get the upper hand,” he told a meeting of the Foreign Press Association. “I think that this is possible.

    “In such time of conflict, if the opposition is not making any progress, and the regime manages to survive and to get very strong support from other countries, namely Iran and Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, in the end it might just survive,” he said.

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    AFP via NOW – Photographs of the bloodied face of a 14-year-old boy executed in front of his parents by jihadist rebels in northern Syria have thrown into stark relief the sometimes extreme justice meted out in rebel-held areas.

    “As the conflict develops, it is logical that we will see more problems of criminality emerge,” said Aron Lund, who has written extensively on the Syrian insurgency. “The core problem in Syria, aside from the war, is the lack of law and order. Religious extremism is a response to the lack of law and order, as radicals see a chance to step in like a sheriff in the Wild West,” Lund told AFP.

    “On the regime side, power is concentrated in Assad’s hands. But on the rebel side, it is more complicated because many insurgent groups are competing against each other for territory, and have many different ideas about how Syria should be ruled,” he added.

  3. Syria’s War of Tunnels
    An exclusive report from Qusair by Ali Hashem
    The “War of Tunnels” is probably the most suitable name for the war fought in Syria’s strategic region of Qusair, on the border with Lebanon. In each city, town and village, dozens of hideouts and underground routes have been found by the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters.

    “These tunnels were used to connect alleys with each other, exit routes and hideouts, snipers’ shooting posts and weapons storage,” Major Abdo, a Syrian army officer, told Al-Monitor. The tunnels were under almost every house and building. I entered one in one house, and at the end of it I found myself in the living room of an adjacent house. According to Abdo, “These tunnels took them a lot of time to plan, dig and connect.”
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  4. Syria’s Strategic Balance at a Tipping Point
    Yezid Sayigh, Carnegie ME Center
    The Syrian conflict has entered a critical phase with the fall of the town of Qusair to regime troops backed by Hezbollah fighters in the early hours of June 5. Both sides have made gains and suffered losses over the past six months, so this should be no different. But the discrepancy between the regime’s underlying strengths and the armed opposition’s enduring weaknesses is starting to tell.

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  5. It’s kind of nice to see the Syria Today coverage without having to scroll through three pages of BS. I hope some of them will stay gone so that we can have higher quality debates. Any chance this site will switch to disqus?

      • I miss Disqus and although I understand why they want to have a makeover on the comments section it feels so clunky compared to Disqus. No longer can I sort comments chronologically or see in an instant that a comment was made and where.

        Well, let’s hope Disqus will be back since the comments and updates there was what was really important to me.

        Otherwise I like the new design of the site, easier and faster to find what you are interested in now.

    • I don’t know. It’s still fresh to decide. Disqus had it’s advantages. For example, I’m not sure you know I’m responding to your comment, coz you will not get an email notification.

  6. [Edited by moderator to focus on links to information]

    IMPORTANT VIDEO: The video opens with a close up inside a regime helicopter showing Syrian soldiers dropping Iranian-designed IED’s on Sunni neighborhoods of Syria. Later you see an animation of how the IED’s have been designed to work. Finally you see their consequences for civilians.

    IDLIB: According to Markito0171 the rebels killed more than 20 regime troops on the ourskirts of Idlib an eliminated four or five checkpoints. Doing so always opens the way to strategic regime positions. Power in the city has been cut off after a substation was hit. The Iskan military base is now afire with many explosions as you can see in the picture and video below:

    ANKARA: A key suspect in twin car bombings that killed 52 people in a Turkish city near the Syrian border last month has been arrested while trying to flee to country, local officials said Tuesday.

    Local media have reported that the suspect, identified as N.E., made dozens of trips between Turkey and Syria in recent weeks.


    WORTH READING: Sunni-Shiite rift on Syria risks regional chaos: analysts


    ARTICLE: Hezbollah takes Syria risk at Iran’s behest, experts say

    VIDEO: Latest Mass Defection from Assad’s Forces

    This time it’s Brigade 61. Here’s the video:

    DEIR EZ ZOR: thermobaric bomb dropped on Deir Ezzor

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