Syria Daily, August 19: Assad Regime Claims “Reconciliation” Deal in Damascus Suburb

LATEST: Islamic State Claims Beheading of Journalist James Foley, Threatens To Execute Journalist Steven Sotloff

TUESDAY FEATURE

On Eve of Anniversary of Assad’s Chemical Attacks, Obama Celebrates “Elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction”

The Assad regime is claiming a reconciliation agreement, ending clashes with insurgents, in the Damascus suburb of al-Qaddam.

The head of the Popular Reconciliations Central Committee, Sheikh Jaber Issa, claimed the deal would “return services” and allow displaced residents to return to al-Qaddam, south of the capital.

According to Issa, lists of insurgents would be provided “for their legal status to be settled”, as roadblocks were removed and streets cleared.

Opposition outlets have not confirmed the claim.

The regime has reached agreements in several other suburbs since the start of the year, Moadamiya, Yelda, Babila, and Barzeh.

The deals have followed months of siege by the Syrian military in what opponents have called a “surrender or starve” strategy.


Islamic State Claims Beheading of Journalist James Foley, Threatens To Execute Journalist Steven Sotloff

The Islamic State is posting pictures and text claiming that they have beheaded journalist James Foley, missing since November 2012, and they are threatening to execute Steven Sotloff.

Sotloff, who worked for Time magazine, disappeared in August 2013.

Claimed photo of Foley before his execution:

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The jihadists posted video of the execution, following a clip from a speech by President Obama with the subtitled warning, “We await your next move in Iraq”.

Liwa al-Tawhid Fighters Leave Islamic Front and Join Free Syrian Army Brigades

Well-placed sources confirm that many fighters who were with Liwa al-Tawhid have left the Islamic Front and have joined Free Syrian Army brigades.

The fighters are now serving under FSA command against the Islamic State in Marea in northern Aleppo Province.

The sources say that one motive for the move of the Liwa al-Tawhid men was that many of them come from Marea or nearby villages, and thus are fighting for their home ground and their families. Marea is also the home of the family of Abu Furat, a famous Free Syrian Army commander who was killed in December 2012.

Insurgents have been able to repel Islamic State attacks on Marea, a key town for the insurgency, after the jihadists advanced through northern Aleppo Province. In some cases, they have lured the Islamic State fighters into ambushes on the outskirts of the town.

Liwa al-Tawhid, which has been prominent in the battle for Aleppo city, is still formally part of the Islamic Front bloc.

Military Executes 3 Pilots for Refusing to Fly Bombing Missions

EA sources confirm claims that the Syrian military has executed three pilots who refused to fly missions bombarding northern Hama Province.

The three pilots are Colonel Nofal Dayoub, Brigadier General Ahmad Ghanam, and Colonel Sami Razak.

Insurgents Take Qubaiat Village in Hama Province

The Supreme Military Council says insurgents have taken control of Qubaiat village in Hama Province after “fierce clashes” with regime forces.

The Council claims the killing and capture of a number of Syrian troops and militia.

The Free Syrian Army also used heavy artillery to shell Assad troops at the al-Aboud checkpoint on the outskirts of insurgent-held Morek.

Opposition forces have been advancing through the province over the last month, moving within three kilometers of Hama Military Airport.

Fighting outside al-Sheiha:

Assad Regime Offers to Help Iraqi Kurdistan Against “Terrorist” Islamic State

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi, in an interview with the Iraqi Kurdish outlet Rudaw, has offered Damascus’s help to Iraqi Kurdistan in its fight with the jihadist Islamic State:

We have to put a stop to all this. Neither we in Syria nor our brethren in Iraq and Erbil or elsewhere in Beirut and Amman, are able to confront terror single-handedly. No one can confront terror alone. There must be cooperation, genuine cooperation. We have to share intelligence and knowledge. We should also support each other financially, as thousands of families both in Syria and Iraq have been displaced. None of this is possible without our commitment to cooperation.

Al-Zoubi also asserted that the Assad regime is happy to work with Syrian Kurdish forces:

Our Syrian Kurdish brethren…are part of our nation. It’s the duty of all nations — Kurds and Arabs alike — to confront terror. They have the duty of protecting the nation, our dignity and people’s properties. Side by side with the Syrian army, they are doing their part.

President Assad’s media advisor Bouthaina Shaaban took the campaign to US media on Monday, telling CNN that Syria had been warning for more than two years of the “threat to humanity” and calling for an international coalition to defeat it.

Opposition: “Poison Gas” Attack on Athman in Daraa Province

Neither we in Syria nor our brethren in Iraq and Erbil or elsewhere in Beirut and Amman, are able to confront terror single-handedly. No one can confront terror alone. There must be cooperation, genuine cooperation. We have to share intelligence and knowledge. We should also support each other financially, as thousands of families both in Syria and Iraq have been displaced. None of this is possible without our commitment to cooperation.

Opposition: “Poison Gas” Attack on Athman in Daraa Province

Opposition activists are claiming a regime attack with “poison gas” on Athman, just north of Daraa in southern Syria.

Aftermath of the attack:

Victim being treated in hospital:

The airstrike followed fighting in the area, with State media claiming “army units killed and injured a number of terrorists”, and

Fighting continues in #Daraa and several regime forces have reportedly been killed in Atman. #Syria

— Paradoxy (@Paradoxy13) August 16, 2014

” target=”_blank”>opposition outlets saying several Syria troops had been slain.

The Syrian military carried out a series of strikes this spring with chlorine canisters dropped in barrel bombs, notably in Hama Province, when regime forces faced significant resistance.

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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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