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Syria, July 25: 10 Killed in Car Bomb Near Damascus

Syria, July 25: 10 Killed in Car Bomb Near Damascus
July 25
09:53 2013

LATEST: Wheat Harvest Lowest in 30 Years

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A twist on Wednesday in the story of Homs, amid the regime’s oft-proclaimed but apparently never-ending offensive against insurgent-held positions….

For six weeks, both Syrian State media and some observers have been declaring a push by the Syrian military to re-take all of the country’s third city; however, despite daily shelling, President Assad’s ground forces have only reclaimed the fringes of neighborhoods like Khalidiya.

That pattern continued yesterday, with Syrian news agency SANA declaring, “Army units continued making progress in Bab Houd neighborhood in Homs city, eliminating a number of terrorists and establishing control over buildings which terrorists had been using to store weapons and attack locals” — almost the same exact language it used two weeks ago.

Instead, the new development on Wednesday was a statement by the Red Cross criticizing the regime for not allowing it to get to civilians in Homs. Magne Barth, head of the ICRC delegation in Syria, said:

We have been trying, for close to 20 days now, to bring medical supplies and other aid to the old city of Homs. Despite lengthy negotiations with both sides, and three trips back and forth between Damascus and Homs, we have still not received the go-ahead from the Syrian authorities.

The Red Cross had said last Friday that it was negotiating a humanitarian pause in hostilities, but this was never declared.

Shelling of the Khalidiya area last weekend:


Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Wheat Harvest Lowest in 30 Years

Syria’s wheat harvest is projected to drop to its worst level in nearly 30 years.

Estimates from more than a dozen grain officials and local traders suggest the harvest could be as low as 1.5 million tons, less than half the average before the conflict started in March 2011.

Until recently the Government projected output of 3.6 million tons. They now blame Western sanctions for the fall in output, but Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi insists that the crop will be around 2.5 million tons.

Polish Photojournalist Kidnapped

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Polish photojournalist Marcin Suder, kidnapped by a dozen masked gunmen on Wednesday morning in Saraqeb, in the northwestern province of Idlib.

A freelancer who works for the Corbis agency, the Polish photo-agency Studio Melon and other outlets, Suder was abducted during a raid on a media centre in Saraqeb. The identity of his kidnappers is still unknown, and no group has claimed responsibility.

10 Killed, 66 Injured in Car Bomb Near Damascus

Ten people have been killed and 66 injured in a car bomb in Jaramana, southeast of Damascus, according to State media.

Opposition activists say the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham has claimed the bombing.

The bombing caused large-scale material damage to nearby shops, buildings, and infrastructure, State media and activists reported.

Activists posted photos from the scene of the attack, including these:

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UN Chemical Weapons Envoys Head Home

The two UN envoys who traveled to Syria to try to persuade President Bashar al-Assad’s government to allow inspectors to inspect alleged chemical weapons attacks ended a 24-hour visit Thursday, AFP report.

AFP quote a UN media and communications analyst Khaled Al Masri as saying that Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom and Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament, “have left Damascus after an official two-day visit, during which the experts met with Syrian officials” including Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York that he would get a report from the envoys “soon”.

AFP also quote a source close to the Syrian government as saying that regime authorities insist that the UN focus on investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal.

Photos: Citizen Photojournalists Document How Syrians Generate Electricity In Blackout

As power outages plunge swathes of Syria into darkness — another result of the ongoing fighting — a series of photographs posted by a citizen photojournalist on Thursday show one way that ordinary Syrians in insurgent-controlled areas are solving the problem for themselves.

The photos, posted on the Facebook page of a group of citizen photojournalists called the Lens of Young Jisri (a reference to the town of Jisr Al-Shughur in Idlib Province), purport to show how Syrians are generating electricity by using a car alternator to create a wind generator:

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Video: Children In Aleppo’s Ansari Neighborhood Demonstrate Against Assad

Footage posted on Thursday shows a group of young children in Aleppo’s insurgent-held Ansari neighborhood protesting against Bashar al-Assad.

Video: Destruction in Jouret Shayyah in Homs After Regime Strike

Turkish Teenager Wounded by Stray Bullet from Syria Dies

A 16-year old Turkish citizen has died over a week after being hit in the head by a stray bullet fired from the Syrian side of the border.

Ahmet Gündüz was wounded whilst sitting indoors watching TV last Tuesday. He was taken to Şanlıurfa’s Balıklıgöl State Hospital and then rushed by helicopter to Hacettepe Medical Faculty Hospital where he was treated in intensive care.

Gündüz’s death is the latest incident involving stray bullets and mortar shells targeting or accidentally hitting Turkey’s southern towns on the border with Syria. Mahsun Ertuğrul, 17, was killed on 16 July after being hit in the chest by a bullet in the Ceylanpınar district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.

In October 2012, a mortar shell struck the southeastern town of Akçakale, killing one woman and 4 children and injuring at least 13 others.

Number of Refugees Approaches Two Million

The latest figures released by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees states that 1,846,486 refugees have been caused to flee Syria because of the ongoing conflict.

The largest concentration of refugees is in Lebanon (639,982). The majority of the remaining registered refugees have been taken in by Jordan (505,347), Turkey (428,198), Iraq (159,792), and Egypt (99,167). 14,000 refugees are elsewhere in North Africa.

15 Killed by Rocket Attack on Rebel-Held Refugee Camp

At least 15 Palestinians, including 5 women and 5 children, were killed yesterday by a rocket attack on a refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus.

The opposition Yarmouk Camp Coordination Committee said that the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) fired two Grad missiles, hitting the Hamdan Bakery area of the rebel-held camp.

Rami al-Sayyed, from the Syrian Media Centre opposition monitoring group, said “The rockets hit a residential and shopping area way behind the front line. The victims were civilians.” A further 45 people were injured in the attack.

6 Kurdish Fighters Killed in Latest Clashes With Insurgents

Kurdish media has released the names and pictures of six fighters killed in clashes with insurgents in northern Syria.

Two of the men were members of the Kurdish police force, Asayish, and four are members of the YPG militia.

Arrests, Deportation Threats Against Syrian Refugees In Egypt

The authorities in Egypt are detaining Syrians — including asylum seekers — and threatening to deport them, according to Human Rights Watch on Thursday.

According to HRW, last week Egyptian police arrested around 72 Syrian men and nine boys at checkpoints on main roads in Cairo. Those who remain in custody have apparently not been charged. Deportation proceedings have begun against several detainees, including children.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR has registered about 90,000 Syrian asylum seekers in Egypt.

HRW say that there is “growing hostility” in Egypt toward Syrian refugees, particularly against the background of recent events in Egypt. According to HRW, local Egyptian TV channels — including Faraeen and OnTV — accused Egypt’s Syrian community on July 10 of siding with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, and one presenter, Tawfiq Okasha, gave Syrians living in Egypt a 48-hour ultimatum, saying that Egyptians knew where they lived and that if Syrians did not stop “supporting the Muslim Brotherhood”, their homes would be destroyed.

Opposition Coalition Continues Push for International Support

Ahmad Asi al-Jarba, the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, continues his push for international support today with an appearance at the United Nations and a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Wednesday Jarba met French President Francois Hollande in Paris as part of efforts to secure significant military aid from Western countries.

Last month, the US — after pressure from Britain and France — agreed publicly to provide arms to the insurgency; however, in-fighting within the Obama Administration has meant that assistance has been limited. Co-ordination with European and Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, has also not advanced.

Jarba was accompanied in Paris by General Selim Idriss, the head of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, who repeated his complaint that the insurgents do “not have enough” weapons.

After the talks, Hollande said reiterated French “political and humanitarian” support but said nothing about military aid.

UN Continues Talks in Damascus for Investigation of Chemical Weapons

Two UN envoys are continuing talks today in Damascus, trying to get access to sites of alleged attacks with chemical weapons.

Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom and Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament, arrived from Beirut on Wednesday.

The UN has pressed since April for an enquiry, but the Assad regime has blocked any access except for an investigation of an attack on Khan al Assal, near Aleppo, on 19 March — an incident in which the regime and opposition have traded allegations of use of sarin.

Earlier this month, Damascus said it would discuss the matter with Sellstrom and Kane.

The situation has been complicated this week, however, by the takeover of Khan al-Assal by insurgents.

Casualties

The Local Coordination Committees claim 125 people were killed on Wednesday, including 31 in Damascus and its suburbs, 29 in Aleppo Province, 20 in Homs Province, and 19 in Daraa Province.

The Violations Documentation Center reports that 67,301 people have been slain since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 122 since Wednesday. Of these, 51,181 were civilians, a rise of 83 from yesterday.

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<a href="http://eaworldview.com/byline/joanna-paraszczuk/" rel="tag">Joanna Paraszczuk</a>, <a href="http://eaworldview.com/byline/scott-lucas/" rel="tag">Scott Lucas</a>

,

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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7 Comments

  1. Catmari
    Catmari July 25, 09:32

    Jadaliyya (with data from the International Crisis Group) continuously updates a very useful “Month-by-Month Summary of Developments in Syria”, which clearly shows how the democratic uprising in Syria began entirely peacefully and then was systematically militarised, first and foremost by Bashar al-Assad’s own brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and subsequently by the aggressive militarisation of the opposition by regional and global powers. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6343/month-by-month-summary-of-developments-in-syria-%28u

    Reply to this comment
  2. RedTornadoes
    RedTornadoes July 25, 09:32

    Link to my latest Syria roundup which will probably be approved by the mods in early morning. Any subsequent updates could be relatively late tomorrow because I may have things to do.

    http://iranian.com/posts/view/post/18017

    Reply to this comment
  3. Catmari
    Catmari July 25, 09:36

    Woman’s Work: The Twisted Reality of an Italian Freelancer in Syria
    by Francesca Borri

    Excerpt:
    People have this romantic image of the freelancer as a journalist who’s exchanged the certainty of a regular salary for the freedom to cover the stories she is most fascinated by. But we are not free at all; it is just the opposite. The truth is that the only job opportunity I have today is staying in Syria, where nobody else wants to stay. It is not even Aleppo, to be precise; it is the frontline. Because the editors back in Italy only ask us for the blood, the bang-bang. I write about the Islamists and their network of social services, the roots of their power—a piece that is definitely more complex to build than a frontline piece. I strive to explain, not just to move, to touch, and I am answered with: “What’s this? Six thousand words and nobody died?”

    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/12986/woman%E2%80%99s-work_the-twisted-reality-of-an-italian-fre

    Reply to this comment
    • Joanna Paraszczuk
      Joanna Paraszczuk July 25, 11:37

      Catmari, thanks for this. I think this piece highlights a major problem with mainstream Syria coverage — because the conflict is ongoing, and (some) editors are looking for headlines that will attract readers, stories about dramatic battlefield deaths are deemed more “saleable” than stories about the social aspects of the conflict. Sadly, this focus means that the public don’t get the fuller picture, and instead get easy narratives about “Al Qaeda” and so on.

      The fact that Islamist groups are providing a network of social services — as this freelancer points out — is a hugely important and fascinating story, and a development that will play a large part in how the conflict develops. However it is far harder to cover than the “Syrian Observatory reports that 24 people died today in X village” stories because it necessitates ongoing research and monitoring to assess what is happening, where and why. So I’m grateful to people like this freelancer for the work she does in that area (regardless of their gender).

      News organizations are turning to freelancers because it’s cheaper to pay per story — and not for the days that it takes to do all the research and interviewing that lead to a report, which they would have to do if they paid a full time salary.

      Reply to this comment
      • Catmari
        Catmari July 25, 11:54

        I knew you would like this story! :-)

        RE: “News organizations are turning to freelancers because it’s cheaper to pay per story — and not for the days that it takes to do all the research and interviewing that lead to a report…”

        .. or for their insurance, safety training, transport, per diem, healthcare, equipment, fixers …

        Reply to this comment
  4. Pak
    Pak July 25, 15:02

    Eagle in a China Shop
    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/eagle-china-shop-8773

    “One pervasive, troublesome feature of U.S. foreign policy is the tendency to view all countries as more or less coherent national entities. American officials and opinion leaders are “map centric.” If they look at a map and see an area bounded by solid lines with a large star somewhere in the center to mark the capital city, they assume it is a real country with a national identity. And the usual procedure is to regard the supposed leader, whether his title is president, king or some other honorific, residing in that capital as someone who exercises authority throughout the country.

    But in many parts of the world, the Western concept of a nation-state is extremely weak. The primary loyalty of an inhabitant is more likely to be to an ethnic group, tribe, clan or religion than to a country. U.S. officials appear to have difficulty grasping that point, and as a result, the United States too often barges into fragile societies, disrupting what modest order may exist. America is the bull (or more accurately, the eagle) in the china shop, flailing about, breaking delicate political and social connections and disrupting domestic balances of power. Washington’s ambitious agenda typically is to try to forge or strengthen a cohesive national identity in client states, even when the real power and cohesion lies at the local or subregional level. The results have ranged from disappointing to calamitous.”

    Reply to this comment
  5. kiwi7
    kiwi7 July 25, 19:08

    Rather than strict focus on Homs City wouldn´t it be better to look at the Homs Governorate at all? There is an Al-Arabiya (usually pro rebel) map here http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=620_1374753302 with Houla and Rastan pockets remaining of what was left in the west of The Homs Governorate. It´s even likely Rastan will fall before the last occupied areas of Homs are freed.

    Reply to this comment

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