Syria Daily, Jan 25: Geneva II Again Seeks Regime-Opposition Talks


LATEST: Jabhat al-Nusra Claims Rocket Attack on Lebanese Town of Hermel


UPDATE 1730 GMT: United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said that the first outcome of indirect talks between the Assad and opposition delegations at the Geneva II conference is the delivery of food aid to sections of Homs on Monday.

Brahimi said a convoy is ready to make the delivery, but the decision will be made locally by the Governor and security forces.

Brahimi’s announcement followed two hours of talks with the regime and opposition delegations in the afternoon.

The envoy said talks on Sunday will consider detainees and those who have kidnapped, with the hope of arranging freedom for some of them.

Meanwhile, Brahimi offered his opinion of the regime’s airstrikes:

Following Brahimi’s announcement, opposition spokesman Louay Safi took a question from a pro-regime journalist, “Why don’t you want elections?”

UPDATE 1000 GMT: The Assad and opposition delegations have met in the same room for the first time, but did not speak to each other, on Saturday morning.

The two sides sat with United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who passed messages between the two groups. The meeting lasted less than an hour and no statements were released afterward.

The heads of the delegations, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Syrian National Council leader Ahmad Jarba, were not at the meeting.

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (pictured) says he will meet the Assad and opposition Syrian delegations “in the same room” on Saturday at the Geneva II conference.

Brahimi initially tried to arrange the meeting for Friday, but both sides balked: the regime delegation said the opposition must renounce “terrorism”, and the Syrian National Coalition said there must be a commitment to a transitional governing authority without President Assad.

The UN envoy said yesterday afternoon, “We are going to meet tomorrow. I hope that it will be a good beginning, and that we will continue until the end of next week.”

He claimed that both sides have accepted the principles of the “Geneva I” communique from June 2012 that called for the transitional governing body.

An opposition delegation said there would be a short morning session “in which only Brahimi will speak” and a longer session in the afternoon.

The two sides will speak to Brahimi, but not each other, during the session.

Jabhat al-Nusra Claims Rocket Attack on Lebanese Town of Hermel

Rockets fired from the Anti-Lebanon mountain range struck Hermel in Lebanon’s northern Beqaa Valley on Saturday.

A report from the National News Agency did not specify how many rockets were fired.

The Lebanese branch of Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Islamist faction involved in Syria’s fighting, reportedly issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, alongside the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.

“The Marwan Hadid Brigades adherent to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades as well the Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon [claim] the bombing of Hermel with seven Grad rockets, [an attack] which achieved its goals,” said a statement issued on Twitter.

A statement from the Brigades promised more attacks if Hezbollah did not halt operation in support of Syria’s Assad regime.

Nine days ago, Jabhat al-Nusra claimed a bomb which killed five people in Hermel. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed recent bombings in Beirut, including an attack near the Iranian Embassy in November.

See Video Analysis: Will the Civil War Spread to Lebanon?

Russia FM Lavrov: Geneva II Conference Cannot Be About Regime Change

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reiterated that the Geneva II conference should not and cannot be about the departure of the Assad regime:

Everyone says that if we just set the task of regime change, as some are attempting to do, chaos will come to Syria. And more than enough chaos is there. But this could simply avalanche…and no one wants this. Everyone realizes that order should be maintained and no other methods, but preserving the current institutions, exist for this.

Russia’s co-sponsor of the conference, the US, has insisted — alongside the Syrian opposition — that the gathering must adhere to the “Geneva I” provision of Assad giving up power to a transitional governing authority.

Lavrov did not directly counter the Americans, but focused on Moscow as a broker of discussions. He said Russia is pushing Syrians “so that they agree themselves”:

This could sound quite naive but no other way actually exists.

It is possible to influence the parties and to prompt them so that they sit at the negotiating table, not just ‘serve’ an act, and truly search for some compromises.

It is impossible to put some scheme on the table, like, “provision 1 — someone leaves, provision 2 — someone comes.’ This is social engineering, which has never ended in anything good anywhere.

He repeated:

Nothing is said in the Geneva communique that someone should leave – it states the necessity for Syrians themselves to accord a mutually acceptable composition and parameters of transition period. And it is emphasized there that, at that, it is necessary to preserve the institutions of Syrian society, including the army and security service.

“Things proceed slowly, not as fast as we wanted, even amid the political will of Moscow and Washington,” Lavrov said.

Video: Regime Bomb in Damascus Suburb of Darayya

The Syrian military continues its bombardment of Darayya, southwest of Damascus, as insurgents and the regime fight for control of the suburb:

87 Killed on Friday as Regime Steps Up Airstrikes

The Local Coordination Committees claim 87 people were killed in Syria on Friday, as the Syrian military bombed throughout the country.

Warplanes dropped dozens of bombs in and near Aleppo, with 34 people killed in the province. There were also waves of airstrikes in Damascus Province, where 14 died, and in Daraa Province.

Site of an attack in Aleppo:

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    • Catherin, it`s definitly not the so-called strenth of Assad. It`s the strength of the iranian Quds force behind.
      But these iranian activities exactly collides with Saudi Arab interests.
      One number reveals how Saudi Arabia behaves in this conflict: The saudi arabian growth in defense spending between 1999 and 2007 was 173%. The largest growthrate (armament spending) was achieved in China and Russia, the third biggest gowth rate world wide was achieved by Saudi Arabia.

      Unwillingness to compromise on one side is answered with intransigence on the other side.
      It should be clear that the attitude of the Syrian regime is determined by the Iranian regime and this exactly will increase the resistance of Saudi Arabia and GCC states. The war will go on – no end in sight.
      This interpretation is much more true than the interpretation of a strenth of Assad on the battlefield which is not there.

      • I personally think you overstate the importance of the Quds force in keeping the regime going strong, but I really think you should take this up with Mr Landis – who has a habit of leaving this sort of thing out. ;-).

        You can repost your reply to the comments section under his blog entry.

        I’d be curious to see the response.

        For the rest, he makes convincing arguments, but I’m always mindful of the fact that he was always a bit too comfortable with the regime before the uprising …

      • Catherin, it`s definitly not the so-called strenth of Assad. It`s the strength of the iranian Quds force behind him.

        The Quds force is not going to give him any strength at Geneva II, especially without Iran being invited. And it’s pretty hypocritical for you to complain about Iranian forces, when the rebel fighting force is almost entirely dominated by Saudi paid foreign fighters.

        It should be clear that the attitude of the Syrian regime is determined by the Iranian regime and this exactly will increase the resistance of Saudi Arabia and GCC states.

        Which at some point will come to an end. Probably when blow back arrives in Ryad. I suspect that Putin has a few surprises in store for the Saudis after the bomb attacks in Russia (as per Bandar’s threat). If there are any more to derail the winter Olympics, the loves will come off and Putin will go after the House of Saud.

        This interpretation is much more true than the interpretation of a strenth of Assad on the battlefield which is not there.

        He’s in no danger of being removed, so it is most certainly there.

    Everywhere in Syria rebels seem to be threatening areas once virtually immune from attack. Now they’ve advanced to the southern edge of Taibat Al Iman. That puts the edge of the city is in mortar range.—Markito0171. Rebels have also been attacking the airport.

    #1: The Arab Chronicle says the regime may have begun a five pronged assault on Eastern Aleppo and that a dozen tanks along with troops were headed in the direction of Myassar though I hadn’t seen any evidence of that elsewhere on twitter prior to retiring for the night. Gotta check today.

    Any gains the regme would make in Aleppo, assuming they can be held, could not offset the strategic value of a rebe takeover of Qusayr accompanied by a broken siege in Homs.

    #1: More than 50 detainees have been liberated from
    Daesh prison in Kfar Jorm.

    #2: Rebels now control Tal Dwei and Tal AL Sbeyhie near Tal Aran.

    #3: In Manbej ISIS is going house to house making mass arrests. Just as the regime does in similar cases, those rounded up by Assad’s Al Queda ally can expect to be starved, tortured and murdered


    Video: Rebels brought down a building infested by

    Assad fighters in Maliha, Damascus

    DEIR EZZOR: A regime assault on the Jbaileh neighborhood was beaten back with the usual attrition.

    QALAMOUN: Rebels keep eliminating Assad fighters on Manoula. Warning graphic video:


    #1: With ISIS help, all injured members of Division 17 have been evacuated to Latakkia.
    #2: A man walking with his wife was arrested because she didn’t wear Naqab.

    DEFECTIONS FROM ISIS CONTINUE: This, plus a two front war which includes Iraq, ian another reason ISIS’ ability to help its regime ally continues to decrease. Latest to jump ship joined Liwa Daoud.


    The only way to solve Syria’s problem is to get it over with by ending the regime. To the degree cease fires beyond short term prevent that they are a bad idea.
    Even in the short term the regime exploits them by making sure little food arrives and stealing much of it, by rounding up military age men who will likely be tortured, imprisoned, starved further and murdered and by using contorted routes that enable removal of rebel roadblocks against tanks.

    Medium to long term that would tend to make permanent Syria’s division into a hodgepodge of islands controlled by different sides. Most importantly lengthy cease fire would favor a murderous, hated regime and allow its war criminals to live unpunished for extra days or months when the regime would otherwise be unable to sustain itself against the avalanche to come.

    Barring ceasefire, the rebels are going to overrun the regime and everyone knows it, including the regime’s generals. ISIS may have bought the regime a few months but the evitable is coming because if the USA refuses to do so others Sunni powers will supply the rebels as essential to counter the the Sectarian Alliance’s aid to Assad and assistance in Sunni genocide.

    Tazi Morocco, who is in a position to know, writes that serious things are on the way from the Good Guys. I don’t doub it. When Geneva fails rebels are sure to launch massive offensives—multiple ones—which only they can do. Many new weapons (including manpads?) are coming. Lots of tunnels being built. Meanwhile the number of Hezollah and Iraqi troops are beginning to enjoy the sort of attrition the regime suffered earlier.


    #1: Demonstrators have acquired masks with the faces of regime delegates. However, the masks have a unique and taunting feature. Check out this photo.

    #2: The mother of the British doctor recently murdered by the regime spit in the face of Buthaina Shabaan, a key advisor to Assad and therefore implicitly a war criminal deserving capital punishment. Shabaan, like Assad’s Maklouf mother, is one of those whose fatal advice in 2011 was “crackdown, NOT democracy and human rights.”

    Foreign Affairs Quarterly: SYRIA’S STATE OF IMPUNITY

    How to Hold All Sides Accountable for Atrocities During the Civil War


    “Tawheed Brigade ambushed dozens of Hezbollah mercenaries near Aleppo International Airport.—Tazi Morocco.

    In the past week 37 Hezbollah members were reportedly killed when rebels targeted a bus near Homs. Combined Hezbollah casualties in Damascus, Aleppo and Quysar this week have to be extremely serious. With regime forces no longer capable of offensives on their own, and Hezbollah taking the lead, it must expect such losses. We’ll see how this weeks’ news plays in Lebanon. Also in Aleppo:

    #1 Activists have compiled new evidence that the Assad regime was responsible for the massacre/bombing of students at Aleppo University whose victims included many Alawites.

    #2: Hundreds of rebels are fighting in southern and eastern Azaz. There are also heavy clashes in the city. Two Jaysh al-Muhajideen tanks arrived.—The Arab Chronicle.

    #3: Rebels in Aziza can now target any regime supplies headed north toward the airport. They’ve aleady destroyed this army fueling base just east of Aziza. reports Markito0171.

    The regime will run into the same problem facing all its offensives but worse in Aleppo due to distance, rebel advances in central Syria and the usual rebel tendency to respond to respond with multi-offensives elsewhere. In Aleppo reinforcement is especially difficult. Therefore, finite forces must contront expandable forces. In that situation, any offensive becomes not just a “must win” but a “must

    Even victory is difficult to sustain. Where any is gained, expanded perimeters much then be held by depleted forces against an expanding enemy capable of concentrating force at any weak spot. If an offensive is blunted, any successive offensives become increasingly difficult attack must confront expanded enemy forces with shrunken forces of his own.

    From Iran’s “honest” Foreign Minister “WE DID NOT



    DAMASCUS: Regime suffered heavy casualties south of Damascus as rebels took Al Qadam.—Al Gharib.

    RAQAA: Tahrir Sy reports that ISIS will hold a trial today for rebel prisoners, including members of Jan and the Islamic Front. Two men were executed with swords yesterday for “insulting the prophet.”

    Graphic Video: JAN BEHEADS AN IRANIAN PILOT FOR WAR CRIMES (bombing civilians in Syrian)


    Things are really moving for the rebels in Aleppo—so much that I’m starting to doubt The Arab Chronicle’s report of a “five-pronged” regime offensive in Aleppo about 20 hours ago. If there is such an offensive it doesn’t appear to be getting anywhere and if the regime can’t do it now, perhaps it never will. I’ve seen No reports of regime victories at all and I’ve looked. Aside from rebel gains I’ve already posted today, see these new reports. It is clear regime forces near the airport are at risk of being cut off from supplies and reinforcement. They’ve got their hands full to the southeast without launching attacks northward.

    #1: “Rebels control Sheik Lotfi area at the Marja district outskirts and clashes are now in Aziza now. –Yalla Souriya

    #2: On the outskirts, Alawite Regime “fighters” are using fleeing Sunni families as human shields as

    #3: In Kafr Hama ISIS has declared a curfew from from 6.00 pm to next morning

    #4: A rebel sniper picks off two Bad Guys in strategic Aziza.

    DAMASCUS: A regime HQ has been attacked near either at Mezzeh Airport or Damascus airport. Arabic and English reports differ on that. Both say regime suffered substantial casualties.
    DARAA: Rebels have cut the Damascus/Daraa Road

    HAMA: Rebels have taken the Job Mahrouf checkpoint. Source: Yalla Souriya.

    HOMS: An updated map suggests rebels may break through the regime siege near Al Duwayr.

    QALAMOUN: The regime militia killed in Maaloulah were targeted by the FSA’s “special task force.” This new video is more complete that one I posted earlier in giving you an idea of the regime’s losses. It is also graphic.

    RAQAA: ISIS has closed a nursing school for girls as punishment for demonstrating.

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