Syria Daily, May 2: 48-Hour Ceasefire in Homs for Insurgents to Leave


PHOTO: Man looks on burned corpse after regime airstrike on Hallak in Aleppo on Thursday (Photo: Aleppo Media Center)

LATEST: Videos — Regime Barrel Bombs Across Daraa Province


UPDATE 2000 GMT: The opposition Syrian Coalition has put out details of how the ceasefire in Homs, followed by evacuation of insurgents to north of the city, was arranged — UN and Iranian officials were involved:

The Coalition claims a 72-hour ceasefire — rather than the 48 hours reported earlier — with a prisoner swap during the period. As the insurgents leave, regime forces will enter the Old City, an opposition stronghold since 2012.

An activist in Homs has confirmed reports of a 48-hour ceasefire in the city to allow insurgents to leave.

“This isn’t what we wanted,” Beibars Tilawi told the Associated Press. “But it’s all we could get.”

Tilawi and fellow activist Thaer Khalildiya said the truce will allow hundreds of fighters to evacuate to opposition-held areas north of the city.

Pro-regime media, including Al-Mayadeen and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, have been circulating news of the ceasefire throughout Friday.

The Syrian military has been trying for weeks to clear insurgent-held areas of Homs such as the Old City. They had made slow progress while maintaining a sustained bombardment.

Few civilians are left in the Old City following an evacuation earlier this year, but sections such as al-Waer are still packed, with many Syrians displaced from other parts of the country sheltering there.

Videos: Regime Barrel Bombs Across Daraa Province

The regime has dropped barrel bombs across Daraa Province in southern Syria on Friday, including at least five on Nawa:

Aftermath of one of the Nawa bombs:

Damage in Tsil:

The attacks come as insurgent forces are trying to build on recent advances by taking the Jomou’ hill between Nawa and Tsil. Opposition fighters took other hilltops, notably Ashtara and Jabiyeh — where the Brigade 61 base was located — in the last week.

The Syrian military is also trying to hold onto positions on the southern and eastern edges of Nawa.

If insurgents succeed in taking the hills and positions, they will effectively control all territory from western Quneitra Province to southern Dara’a Province.

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Friday Protests: “Assad Killed Students and Destroyed World’s Conscience”

Friday’s protest in Kafranbel in Idlib Province reacts to this week’s killing of schoolchildren in Aleppo by regime airstrikes:

Protest in Bustan al-Qasr, near the dividing line between insurgent- and regime-held areas of Aleppo:

The Damascus suburb of Saqba:

Al Qa’eda Leader Calls on Jabhat al-Nusra to End Fighting With Other Jihadists

In an audiotape posted on-line on Friday, Al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has apparently called on the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra to end fighting with other jihadist groups in Syria.

In a message to Jabhat al-Nusra head Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, al-Zawahiri demanded that “all soldiers of the front immediately cease fighting” and urged al-Joulani to “devote himself to combat the enemies of Islam, specifically Baathists, Shiites, and their allies.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham, which split with Jabhat al-Nusra in spring 2013, has been in a battle with Syrian insurgents since January across northern and eastern Syria.

Jabhat al-Nusra initially tried to broker a cease-fire, but relations with ISIS were strained by claims that the Iraqi-led group killed Abu Khaled al-Suri, the mediator appointed by al-Zawahiri to end the ISIS-JAN dispute, and JAN’s commander in Idlib Province.

In today’s audio, al-Zawahiri asks ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to pull back from Syria and “devote himself to wounded Iraq, which needs you to redouble your efforts”.

ISIS fell out with al-Zawahiri after it was ordered last spring to let Jabhat al-Nusra lead jihadist activities inside Syria, and it broke with al-Qa’eda early this year.

State Media: 18 Killed by Insurgent Car Bombs in Hama Province

State news agency SANA says 18 civilians, including 11 children, were killed and more than 50 others injured on Friday by two insurgent car bombs in Hama Province.

The site says from “a source” that a suicide bomber blew up a car in Jidreen in the southwest of the province, killing 17 people.

Another person was slain by a car bomb in al-Hmairi in western Hama Province.

23 Candidates Apply to Challenge Assad in June 3 Election

A total of 23 people applied by Thursday’s deadline to stand against President Assad in Syria’s first multi-candidate election on June 3.

Seven more applicants were announced yesterday.

Almost all of the hopefuls are little-known. Each will have to get the support of 35 of Syria’s 250 MPs to be put on the ballot.

Many prospective candidates, including those from major opposition blocs, are excluded from the process because of a new election law mandating 10 years of continuous residency in Syria.

Insurgents Move Near Damascus as Regime Bombs Aleppo

Insurgents made a dramatic double move on Thursday, attacking both northeast and southeast of Damascus, as Syria’s regime maintained its bombardment of opposition-held areas of Aleppo.

Opposition forces attacked Dumayr airport, 38 kilometers (24 miles) northeast of the capital, throughout the day. So far claims of an insurgent capture of the airbase have not been established.

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Even more significant could be the insurgent push to the southeast of Damascus, as opposition fighters moved on Jaramana, long held to be a bastion for the regime.

The advance is in effect a counter-attack: the insurgents came from Mleha, the town east of the capital which has been besieged and bombarded for weeks by the Syrian military.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime continued its attack to counter insurgents in Aleppo with aerial attacks. Up to 44 people died in a double-missile strike on the Halak section in the northeast of the city.

See Syria in Images: Up to 44 Killed in Regime Airstrike on Aleppo’s Halak Neighborhood

Opposition forces have been pressing the regime in Aleppo from the south and the northwest, taking the Palace of Justice in the Layramoun area earlier this week.

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    #1. How successful will the rebel attack on Jaramana be?

    Yesterday they claim to have liberated Air Force Intelligence, Nour checkpoint, the sugar factory and part of Jarmana, driving out he NDF forces.

    #2: With his rigged election show on the way and his popularity at stake, can Assad dare bomb the daylights out of a loyalist neighborhood and if not?

    Obviously the psychological effect of this attack is similar to the impact of the two Lattakia offensives in creating the perception the regime’s capacity to protect its supporters is collapsing. Reports I’ve seen claim that those fleeing Jarmana are doing so from fear of the rebels. I think fear that Assad will bomb and shell the place contributes just as much.
    Can Assad afford to wait until evacuation is complete before doing so? Either way it will cost him popularity. Where will here evacuees be housed? Damascus Housing is already in short supply and ultra expensive and will now become more so.

    Perhaps regime supporters will be encouraged to move to the coast in which case Assad’s sectarian cleansing is likely to pick up drastically there. The recent arrest of 500 civlians may be only a slim portent of things to come.
    I’d also say that the more Assad’s supporting core leaves the city, the harder it could be to hang on to Damascus.

    #4: In the unlikely event Assad limits his bombing and shelling of Jarablus in the hope there will be something to recapture, what chance to his fighters have against the rebels without air support?

    Combat will destroy lots of property and rebels may add to the destuction as a way of sending a message to Alawaies a who long supported the flattening of Sunni neighborhoods. This will be a a consequence of such support. As the conflict reaches its late stages Jarmana and other regime strongholds will begin to look like Berlin in 1945. It is perfect justice!

    #5: Given that Assad’s supply of reliable ground troops to carry out offensives or counteroffensives keeps shrinking, where can he scrape sufficient forces up for Jarmana? Is there any need to ask whether rebels will notice such movements and take advantage where defenses have been weakened?


    Ayman al-Zawahiri demands JAN make peace with ISIS. Giving JAN’s anger at ISIS, its many grievances and it’s hostility to the regime–prevalent among its mostly Syrian fighters–I’m not so sure JAN can do that.

    We need to ask, “What happens it disobeys orders from Ayman Al-Zawahiri?” Jan itself could be split apart a bit whatever choice it makes. Al-Zawahiri’s orders could underline is allegiance to Al Queda and that would be a good thing.

    • A bigger problem is what happens to the FSA and Islamic front if they lose their alqaeda allies in a peace deal with ISIS?Not sure this peace deal can be achieved after Nusra cut off some ISIS fighters heads yesterday.At least they aren’t eating people i guess.Words going round kindi hospital aleppo recaptured by SAA.Also that a hill called breij taken that overlooks the prison.I have not seen vids to confirm.Back and forth yet again if true.Stalemate.


    Three developments forced Assad’s hand though he’ll spin Homs as a huge victory:

    1) the existing threat to bases near Khan Al-Shughour.

    2) the just launched desert offensive.

    3) the new, intolerable threat to Jarablus, aided by rebel gains in Quneitra and Damascus.

    Assad can’t screw around in Homs and Qalamoun while everything else falls apart. Other concerns are Lattakia and Aleppo.

    In Homs rebels have accomplished what they needed to do and know better than to push it while the door is open. Knowing he may need a similar deal at some future time, Assad would be foolish to pull a double cross in this instance. Rebels must be allowed to go unmolested or else.

    Assad must now choose which threats to addess given limited military assets. I suspect he’ll either attack or block near Adra while sending other forces south to Damascus to help with the Jarablus threat. Forces in Khan Shughour, Aleppo or Lattakia are unlikely to get much additonal help given such priorities.


    Flexibility has been a rebel strong point. The core objectives probably do not include Aleppo presently. However, if conditions have changed on two fronts they may want to reconsider that.


    If things haven’t changed much by then and the regime’s military power base here remains intact, the Aleppo alternative deserves consideration.


    Aleppo’s huge size and population would make a quick victory difficult under normal circumstances However, rebel advances seem to be speeding up while the enemy continues to be cut off from outside help. Its situation resembles that of German forces a few weeks after being cut off in Stalingrad. How much worse off will the regime’s situation be in a month or two? If a Aleppo looks like easy and quick pickings, (which only rebels on site can determine) it may be the way to go.

    Aleppo’s downfall would be fatal to the regime. It would add thousands of fighters to offensives, enabling multiple attacks on the Homs/Damascus core. It would seriously affect confidence and morale on the regime’s side. It could induce Assad’s allies to flee a sinking ship. There are many Hezbollah and Iraqis in Aleppo I gather.

    Previously I’ve opposed any big attempt to take Aleppo because it would have taken too long and come at the expanese of easier gains elsewhere. Now it seems neither objection may apply.


    The following map suggests the rebels do not need to take Palmyra to get at many desert objectives. West of Palmyra, there appears to be a bypass than connects the two critical highways.

    • The southern front could be doing better but apparently nobody trust the leader down there.Nusra are even threatening him and brigades are either leaving or threatening to do so.So many different factions to control.If the war against Assad is won the plan is apparently to attack Nusra-alqaeda.Also ISIS will supposedly have been destroyed by this time as they are just easy in for a long ride.This could take decades.


    That’s the new but familiar slogan among pro-Russian thugs in the Ukraine. Considering that Assad’s strategy in Syria was suggested by Putin and is a copy of his Chechnya strategy, what would you expect?

    It is no coincidence that fascists sound alike and act alike everywhere. It would just as easily be the Serbia White Eagles, white Montana/GOP militias or Hitler’s brownshirts. What they all have in common are the same sluggish way ands ethnic or sectarian egocentricity.


    –35800 students detained by the regime according to Syrian Network for Human Rights

    — More that one million under siege by the regime in eastern Ghouta with shortages of food supply, sanitation

    ABOUT RELIABILITY OF REBEL SOURCES (in answer to someone’s question)

    Pro-regime types dare to quote SANA while questionable the reliablity of anyone who frequently reports news that the regime would prefer not be reported.

    Rebels tend to be open and accurate about victories generally don’t lie about victories and have reasonable accuracy except in area where confirmation is difficult–downed planes. Rarely do they deny setbacks but they may not always report them. Even then, another pro-rebel poster always does.

    HIGH RELIABLITY: Mapmaker Arab Chronicle (aka Cedric Larousse)

    AC has good sources. Where he has doubts about a rebel claim he says so and tells why. As a mapmaker who takes pride in his work, AC has a vested interest in truth and accuracy.

    GOOD RELIABILITY: Markito0171 and Tazi Morocco.

    They offer news of victories and “reported” victories (a term suggesting they feel a need for further confirmation). Not once have I seen evidence of attempt to DELIBERATLY deceive, though overenthusian may sometimes lead to claims they modify in short order.

    PROBLEMATIC: Johnny Six. Much of his stuff isunusuable because it is in arabic with no translation or because he simply forgets to add details about where, when or who. A bigger problem is that JS often posts older videos (mostly two or three days earlier) as if they were current. Sometimes he post videos of much older regime atrocities without mentioning that they are not current.

    All four parties above are pro-rebel and—like myself—make no attempt to conceal who they root for or concea theirl glee over rebel victories. None of that precludes honest reporting however which is what distinguishes their reports from outright propaganda sites like the next group.

    TERRIBLE RELIABILITY: Russian Times, SANA, Fars, etc.

    All are products of state conttrolled media where undesired news is simply banned. Accuracy is under 10 percent.

    These sources rely on the Goebbels model, simply making up dump conspiracy theories rigging the evidence and demanding that anyone who disagrees prove the negative (a logical impossibility).

    These sources frequently pass off crimes of the regimes as opposition crimes. They knowing use photos of their own atrocities or old atrocities in distant places (Afghanistan and in Iraq) as “rebel crimes” or “opposition crimes.”

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