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- Iran Daily: Kerry Says “Serious Gaps” in Nuclear Talks, But Zarif Looks to “Agreement”
- Syria Daily: Is US Talking to Turkey About Assad’s Removal?
- Israel-Palestine Feature: Human Rights Watch Challenges Israeli Demolition of “Terrorist” Homes
- Iraq Daily: Islamic State Takes Over Part of City of Ramadi in West
Syria Daily, Mar 29: Insurgents Advance in Latakia Offensive
- Insurgents take Nab'ain, southwest of Kassab
- Regime convoys of reinforcements hit
Insurgents made further gains on the 8th day of their offensive in Latakia Province in western Syria.
Opposition fighters consolidated control of Nab’ain, 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of Kassab, the village on the Turkish border taken at the start of the offensive.
Opposition reinforcements from the Al-Aqsa Brigade:
Insurgents also inflicted casualties on regime forces as they tried to send in reinforcements for counter-attacks, not only striking convoys near Nab’ain but also cutting down Syrian troops and militias in Idlib Province.
An attacked convoy near Nab’ain:
Syrian State news agency SANA’s mention of the Latakia fighting is this vague note: “A military source (said) that the army units targeted terrorists’ dens and gatherings in Solas village, Bab al-Amaniyeh, the area surrounding Point 45, Kassab and near al-Samra village, inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorists.”
Footage of a MiG-29 over Latakia Province:
The site also features a visit by Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar to injured Syrian troops and militia.
Islamic State of Iraq Claims Capture of Oil Well & Gas Well in Eastern Syria
The Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham claims it has captured an oil well and a gas well from the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra in Deir Ez Zor Province in eastern Syria.
ISIS said it re-took the Kunayk gas well and Jifra oil well after Jabhat al-Nusra had used the “vile means” of Grad rockets, killing 45 foreign fighters, to take the facilities.
ISIS said it also killed about 40 Assad troops and took “a large number of heavy weapons”.
Hezbollah’s Nasrallah: “We Were Late Sending Fighters to Syria”
Defiant Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he sent his fighters to Syria because Syrian insurgents would “eliminate everyone in Lebanon” if they won.
“The problem in Lebanon is not that Hezbollah went to Syria, but that we were late in doing so,” he told supporters via a TV link from a secret location in southern Lebanon. “This resistance will remain solid, with its head hung high, protecting its people and its nation.”
The Hezbollah leader claimed, “If takfiris achieve victory in Syria, we would all be eliminated in Lebanon, not just the resistance.”
Nasrallah said he first sent “tens of Hezbollah” fighters to Syria to protect the Sayyeda Zaynab shrine in southern Damascus and “avoid larger sectarian strife”.
Suicide Bomber Kills and Wounds 6 Lebanese Soldiers Near Syrian Border
A suicide bomber detonated his car at a Lebanese army checkpoint near the Syrian border on Saturday evening, causing six casualties among the soldiers.
The blast was near the eastern border town of Arsal, home to many thousands of Syrian refugees
Lebanon’s National News Agency reported the casualties without giving breakdown of killed and wounded.
The NNA said the Ahrar al-Sunna in Baalbek Brigade, an extremist Sunni group, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a message sent on Twitter.
Video: Destruction in Damascus Suburb of Darayya
Video: Aftermath of Regime Airstrike on Tafas in Daraa Province
Shaam News Network says at least nine people were killed.
Regime Claims Advances in Qalamoun Offensive
State news agency SANA says the Syrian military has taken the towns of Ras al-Maara and Fleita in the Qalamoun region between and the Lebanese border.
Five months after the launch of its Qalamoun offensive, the regime is now claiming that it controls all major towns and cities in the region, as well as Syria-Lebanon border crossings.
Regime’s Verbal Attacks on Turkey Escalate
The Assad regime has continued its verbal assault on Turkey’s support of “terrorism”, amid the insurgency’s offensive in Latakia Province.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said Syria was waging a war against the “terrorists” backed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “who is fully aware of their scale, the kind of weapons they use, and the crimes they commit”: “The fact that Erdogan’s government, considered, planned, approved and carried out an aggression against Syria is irrefutable, and…this aggression was carried out on behalf of terrorism and has nothing to do with Turkish national interest.
Assad Regime Denounces UN Report on Millions Failing to Get Aid
Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jafari, has denounced a UN report on the humanitarian situation, claiming it ignores obstacles to aid by insurgents.
The report by the UN’s humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said only 6% of those in need had received aid, despite a February resolution by the Security Council demanding immediate action by the regime and insurgency.
Western diplomats said the regime has allowed aid convoys to cross only one of eight border crossings identified by the UN as a priority. US Ambassador Samantha Power claimed 3.5 million people could be helped “with the stroke of a pen”.
However, Jafari said the report ignores the siege of regime-held areas by insurgents, who “occupy hospitals and turn them into bases for military operations, torture, and executions” and who had abducted and tortured civilians. He complained that Amos ignored the “political aspect” of “terrorists” with “Turkish-Qatari-Saudi-Israeli intelligence support”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also castigated the report:
While enumerating the violations of human rights the resolution does not make any mentioning of violence on the part of paramilitaries that was described in the report in detail — mass executions, abductions of women and children, sexual violence, the use of children soldiers, mortar shelling of densely populated areas, as well as the terrorist acts committed by the groupings making up the Syrian Free Army and closely linked to the Islamic Front.