The Syrian military is continuing to seek a breakthrough both east of Damascus and east of Aleppo.
Pro-regime outlets declared on Monday that Syrian forces “destroyed most of the terrorists’ dens and gatherings in al-Mleha town”, east of Damascus, and that they were succeeding in attacks near the Sheikh Najjar industrial area near Aleppo.
On both fronts, however, EA sources confirmed that insurgents were still holding lines, “resisting all attacks” in Mleha and bringing in reinforcements in the “fierce clashes” outside Aleppo.
The Syrian military has been trying for months to clear insurgents from a crescent of territory around Damascus, through a combination of ceasefires, sieges, and bombardments. The capture of Mleha would open up the rest of the insurgent-held area of East Ghouta.
Footage of destruction in Mleha:
Near Aleppo, the regime is counter-attacking after insurgents moved on the northwestern front and threatened to cut off Syrian forces in the western half of Syria’s largest city. Seizure of Sheikh Najjar would reverse the situation by isolating insurgents in the eastern part of Aleppo.
Insurgents Kidnap Failed Candidate for Presidential Election
Insurgents in Daraa Province in southern Syria have kidnapped Mohammad Kanaan, a military officer whose bid for candidacy in the June 3 Presidential election was turned down by the Constitutional Court.
A video showed Kanaan, seated on an armchair with three armed, bearded insurgents in fatigues.
“The Tabarak al-Rahman Brigade has arrested one of the presidential candidates,” said one of the men.
Kanaan said he is a colonel in the army’s 1st Division tank battalion, and was stopped by a Free Syrian Army patrol while travelling from Damascus to Daraa.
Asked why he registered for an election that the opposition has mocked as a “farce”, Kanaan said the regime coerced him into running.
Human Rights Watch Criticizes Lebanon for Deporting Syrian Palestinians
Human Rights Watch has criticized Lebanon for deporting about 40 Palestinians to Syria last weekend.
HRW also condemned strict restrictions placed by Lebanese authorities on Palestinians crossing over the Syrian border.
“Such a policy violates the international law principle of nonrefoulement, which forbids governments from returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened,” HRW said in its Tuesday statement.
Lebanese authorities detained 49 Syrian and Palestinian refugees at the Beirut airport for allegedly trying to travel with forged documents to an unidentified Arab country. They were interrogated to reveal the “network of individuals forging travel documents, and whoever is involved in the case”. Most were deported back to Syria the next day.
There are more than one million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Evacuation of Insurgents from Homs “Could Take Days”
Homs Provincial Governor Talal Barazi said on Tuesday that the evacuation of insurgents from Homs city may take days to arrange.
The regime and opposition announced a provision deal on Sunday for the fighters to withdraw to areas north of Homs, allowing Syrian forces to reclaim 13 districts for the first time in more than two years.
On Monday, reports circulated that the fighters would be allowed to leave on buses, carrying one personal weapon each. United Nations and Iranians representatives would supervise the evacuation, as the Syrian military watched from distance.
Barazi told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV:
The conditions are helpful and the atmosphere is suitable for achieving positive steps toward settlement and reconciliation and the exit of armed groups, but we have not set a date yet.
The next few days will witness, God willing, steps like this, and we hope there will be a date soon.
Hezbollah Commander on Allowing Insurgents to Leave Homs “We Will Kill Them in the Countryside”
A Hezbollah commander who fought in Homs until late April explains the decision to allow insurgents to leave the city, rather than defeat them with force:
They were fortified and fanatics who are ready to die. We would lose too many men.
It’s better to kill them with planes in the countryside.
Filmmaker on Aleppo Documentary: “We Need to See Syrians Outside Lens of Extremism”
Filmmaker Michal Przedlacki spent 44 days in Aleppo in summer 2013 for the documentary Aleppo:Notes from the Dark, about the lives of seven people in the escalating conflict. He tells Syria Deeply:
We need to see Syrians in the same lens as we see ourselves and outside the context of radicalization. By only showing Syria under the lens of extremism, we can make the justification for not doing enough.
If we turned this narrative upside down, and showed attacks on schools, people would be absolutely shocked about what is going on inside Syria. To us, the most important thing is to bring the film to as many people as possible, to remind people of what is happening in Syria, to people caught up in the midst of war, trying to survive and exist. The film is about showing the real image of the war and how it transforms the lives of ordinary people.
Another Insurgent Faction Seen with US-Made TOW Anti-Tank Missile
Yet another insurgent group, Liwa Fursan al-Haq, seen with a US-made TOW anti-tank missile:
The TOW missiles have been appearing in Syria since last month, with at least four groups now posting videos or photographs.
Liwa Fursan al-Haq is linked to the Supreme Military Council and operates in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
Claimed footage of another TOW, on Mount Chalma in Latakia Province:
Regime Promotes Children’s Festival in Damascus
State news agency SANA declares that 7,000 children from southern Syria took part in a festival, held by the Vanguards Organization of the ruling Ba’ath Party, in Damascus on Monday.
The head of the Organization told the audience that Syria faced “takfiris” who were trying “to subvert children’s thoughts and nip their dreams in the bud”.
SANA assures, “Children interviewed…, among them sons and daughters of martyrs, said they are determined to defy terrorism that is robbing them of childhood and shattering their dreams.”
US Hosts 10-Day Visit by Opposition Leaders
Opposition leaders, including the heads of the Syrian National Coalition and the Supreme Military Council, arrived in Washington on Monday for 10 days of talks with American officials.
The opposition is seeking an increase in US support, notably military aid, after months of indecision by the Obama Administration.
In a gesture of support on Monday, the a “senior Administration official” declared that the Coalition’s office in Washington is now a foreign mission. He said the Administration is seeking another $27 million in non-lethal aid from Congress, bringing the total to $287 million.
The official said, “We have enhanced our coordination with key regional allies to provide assistance to the moderate opposition.”
However, he did not refer to any specific provision of military weapons or equipment, simply declaring, “We recognize that (the Free Syrian Army) need to have what they need to change the situation on the ground.”
He further dampened any expectations of assistance, “We continue to believe there is no military solution to the conflict.”
Insurgents Carry Out 40-Ton Explosion, Killing 40 Regime Troops in Idlib Province
EA sources confirm footage of an insurgent attack with 40 tons of explosives on a regime position in Idlib Province, killing at least 40 Syrian troops: