Syria Daily: The UN’s Empty Visit to Besieged Darayya

PHOTO: A boy sits by a UN vehicle during an official visit to the besieged town of Darayya on Sunday


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A senior UN official has visited besieged Darayya, the Syrian town where thousands are enduring lack of food and medical care, and apologized that the organization was “late” in dealing with the Assad regime’s blockade.

However, the head of the UN envoy’s office in Damascus, Khawala Matter, was not accompanied by an aid convoy and could not offer any prospect of assistance in the near-future.

Matter told women and children, many of whom have been protesting their lack of food and medicine in the town southwest of Damascus:

We listen to your news. No one has forgotten you. your suffering is reaching us. We will alleviate your pain by God’s will.

The official continued in a brief meeting with the local council and rebel representatives, “I would like to apologize in the name of the entire UN Syria team….“We were late but today we have seen the extent of this tragedy and suffering.”

The Syrian military has maintained a siege since late 2012 and tightened it this winter by cutting a road to nearby Moadamiya, also under threat of starvation. Despite a February 27 cessation of hostilities, the Assad regime has not allowed aid agencies into the town. The head of UN aid operations, Stephen O’Brien, told the Security Council earlier this month of the threat to thousands of civilians.

See Syria Feature: Appeal by Women of Besieged Darayya — “There is No Food”

Issam al-Reis, a Free Syrian Army spokesman, reacted on Twitter with a reference to the ongoing UN-brokered talks for a political resolution:

Your dusty tyres entered Darayya but you came empty handed & you left [us] behind after 3 yrs of siege, still waiting.

If the UN failed to let one crumb of biscuit enter Darayya, how are they capable of achieving political transition or transitional justice?


Anti-Assad Protest in Suwayda in Southeast

A parade in the mainly-Druze Suwaida Province in southeast Syria turned into a protest against the Assad regime on Sunday, according to citizen journalists.

People had gathered to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Syria’s independence from France. But about 200 marchers replaced a portrait of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad with that of an early 20th-century Druze leader, Sultan Pasha al-Atrash.

Atrash led a popular uprising against French rule in 1925 and participated in the Independence Intifada of 1945 that precipitated France’s withdrawal from Syria.

A statue of Hafez al-Assad was pulled down in Suwayda’s central square last September following the assassination of Sheikh Waheed al-Balous, the head of the Sheikhs of Dignity, a religious and political movement seeking to protect Suwayda from any outside aggression.

Sunday’s protesters shouted slogans such as “Syria is ours and not the Assad family’s” and “Live Syria! Fall Bashar!” as they marched from the square to the town of Mazra, 8 km (5 miles) to the northwest.

Protests are common against high prices and regime policies such as the conscription of local men and the arbitrary firing of state employees, but this was the first time protesters called for the fall of the regime since the assassination of Balous last September.


Rebels Look to Offensive in Hama and Latakia Provinces

Rebels have announced the formation of a joint operations room in western Syria, pointing to possible offensives in Hama and Latakia Provinces.

The Islamic Front circulated the statement on Sunday. It said rebels were responding to breaches of the ceasefire by regime forces, including targeting of camps for displaced Syrians and shelling of residential areas.

Last week the jihadists of Jund al-Aqsa captured grain silos near Mansoura in Hama Province. Rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra have also indicated that they might try to retake territory in northern Latakia Province that was claimed since last autumn by the Syrian military and foreign allies, enabled by Russian airstrikes, since last autumn.

Factions included in the operations room include Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, and the Sham Legion.

Fighting is reported this morning in western Hama Province in the al-Ghab Plain, bordering Latakia. Territory has changed hands several times in the area since a rebel advance took almost of Idlib Province last spring.

Reports indicate that the offensive has already taken Hakoura in the al-Ghab Plain.

HAKOURA 18-04-16

A pro-regime site has said that the Syrian military has cancelled further operations to advance along the highway from Palmyra in Homs Province, captured last month, to the Islamic State-held areas of Deir ez-Zor Province. Units moved toward the Hama-Latakia fronts include the Desert Hawks Brigade and the Panther Forces.

Rebels looking upon an explosion in Khirbet al-Naqous in eastern al-Ghab Plain:

AL-GHAB PLAINS OFFENSIVE 04-16

Fighter with a MANPADS anti-aircraft weapon in the Jabal al-Akrad mountains in Latakia Province:

JABAL AL-AKRAD REBEL MANPADS

Firing a TOW anti-tank missile in Latakia Province:

Rebels and Nusra launched an offensive south of Aleppo city in early April, pushing back regime-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah advances. Areas taken include the town of al-Eis, on the Aleppo-to-Damascus highway, and surrounding hills.

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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.

63 COMMENTS

    • 12 seconds Allah Akhbar said with real emotion 🙂 Big one though.Al qaeda know how to do the big suicide bombs almost as well as ISIS.Their former masters.

  1. Update:
    .
    #Latakia: 1) “1st Coastal Div reports the liberation of the town of Rasha & its hill & regained control of Nah’shaba in rural #Latakia” – Paradoxy13
    .
    And.
    .
    2) “Ops room reports that the al-Malik hill in Jabal al-Akrad has now also been liberated” – Paradoxy13
    .
    #Aleppo: Ominous if true “Large numbers of #PKK reportedly arrived in the city coming from #Afrin through the Regime-held towns of #Nubol and #Zahraa…Led by Haval Shorash this group of 150 #PKK are Turkish Kurds who entered Syria in small groups from Turkey to reach #Afrin…These #PKK fighters will be either be part of an attack on the #Sakan_Shababi area in Ashrafia or an attack on #Castillo road.” –
    .
    And there are some posters here who questioning why I’m advocating the rebels expel the YPG from not only Sheikh Maqsoud but from Afrin province itself. Afrin is the base from which the YPG scourge invades the Aleppo countryside and Sheikh Maqsoud is where the YPG will launch an offensive into rebel held areas of Aleppo city so as to facilitate the siege of ALL Arab Sunnis of Aleppo city. Expelling YPG from Sheikh Maqsoud and launching surprise raids/ambushes deep inside Afrin province will prevent this. The YPG are unscrupulous leftist narco-guerillas who aren’t above indenturing unwilling civilians into their militias, confiscating property, using violence to suppress dissent and forcing farmers to grow narcotics and that’s ignoring the current AIDS epidemic (that may implicate the YPG in running prostitution rings) that’s growing within Hassekeh province.
    .
    #Hama: 1) Ghab plain gets hotter “Regime & foreign militias have lost Khirbat al-Naqous in west rural #Hama following fierce clashes & a Jund al-Aqsa car bomb attack this AM” – markito0171
    .
    And how know it’s in rebel hands?
    .
    2 You guessed it “Assad’s helicopters drop barrel bombs on #Khirbet_Naqous after lost village this morning” – markito0171
    .
    What’s more funny is that the SAA cockily anticipated the fall of Mansoura and not the fall of another place in the Ghab plain as the following post highlights.
    .
    3) “Loyalist offensive announced yesterday in #Ghab ending with capture of Khirbet Naqus by Rebels this morning.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    .
    Best not to advertise in advance what you intend to do in case your opponent decides to pre-empt you with a capture of their own.

    • If you look up Jund al aqsa,they are Al qaeda,so not part of ceasefire.Yet called rebels?PYD is not part of ceasefire?Why not?This is part of the problem between kurds and rebels.Rebels tried to take kurds out prior to all this bickering and clashes as well.Think it was Ahrar who tried.

      • “.Rebels tried to take kurds out prior to all this bickering and clashes as well.” – Prior to joining Assad/Russia/Iran pro-regime coalition the YPG were left alone (besides occasional skirmishing) entirely by the rebels (which includes FSA/Ahrar/Faylaq al-Sham etc) and this despite the fact that FSA bailed-out YPG from Daeesh in 2014. The YPG for the past 6 months have been attacking rebels, in Aleppo city it was the YPG who broke the truce and attacked the rebels to capture Castillo Road for themselves and in the last few months every time the FSA (and not just ordinary Arab FSA units but the Kurdish faction of the FSA) attacked Daeesh they would be often days afterwards such an anti-Daeesh offensive would be attacked by the YPG despite the fact that the YPG have territory bordering Daeesh.
        .
        I advocate the expulsion of the YPG from not only Sheikh Maqsoud and Afrin province not because of their continual treacherous opportunism but because they now pose an existential threat to every rebel faction in Aleppo province and nothing short of their complete expulsion from the above mentioned territory will remove this grave threat. They will be expelled and worse thing for the YPG is if Assad were to fall or Putin were to disengage before they/YPG achieve their Rojave ambition because if that were to happen the YPG will be left alone to face a type of fury from the rebels that they had previously only reserved for the Alawite community and worse still for the YPG they are despised not only by the Turks but the Kurdish leadership in Iraq.

    • Interesting note. Rebel offensive east of Kensabba and rebel offensive in Ghab plain that has reached Hakoura, are both headed in the direction of Joureen.

      Area of gains in Ghab plain. Putting them in mortar range of SAA bases near Joureen.

      http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.631419&lon=36.337109&z=14&m=b&gz=0;363155651;356057425;0;522511;7724;322337;146770;0;374221;199557;215435;528090;6008;528787

      Area of gains in Latakia. Putting pressure on Sawru and areas just north of Joureen.

      http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.727841&lon=36.223898&z=14&m=b&gz=0;361817550;357253324;10299;214584;11157;119839;163078;696;284957;0;287532;48774;201702;217370;0;215977

      • James: “Rebel offensive east of Kensabba and rebel offensive in Ghab plain that has reached Hakoura, are both headed in the direction of Joureen.” – pincer movement?
        .
        Am not surprised JaN could organise this with JaA but what’s surprising me why other larger rebel organisation not be able to launch something similar multi-theatre operations also? For instance why aren’t the FSA in Aleppo province coordinating something similar with the FSA units of northern Hama province to attack Salaymu (sp?) whilst FSA in Aleppo take part in offensives in southern Aleppo?

  2. Russia’s Putin pledges support for Syrian Kurds
    .
    MOSCOW — Ethnic Kurds are a serious force in the fight against terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday (April 14), promising support for Syrian Kurds.
    .
    “Kurds are fighting selflessly, without sparing themselves. They are a very serious force in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and in Syria in particular,” Putin said, speaking to media after his three and a half televised phone-in.
    .
    “Our servicemen are in contact with armed Kurdish units, also near Aleppo where terrorists, al-Nusra and IS [Islamic State] are currently trying to push them from their positions. We see it and we will support them,” Putin added.
    .
    http://www.nrttv.com/EN/Details.aspx?Jimare=6346

    • “Kurds are fighting selflessly, without sparing themselves.” – LOL! Narco-leftist-guerillas who steal, kidnap and murder.

  3. Turkish ultra-nationalist suspected of killing Russian pilot may have ties to his country’s ‘deep state’
    .
    The arrest of Alparsian Celik at a restaurant in Izmir, on the east coast of Turkey, did not generate much publicity. He is not a well known figure – but he is the man accused of a brutal act of violence in Syria’s civil war which has had widespread international repercussions.
    .
    Celik, a Turkish citizen fighting in Syria, led militia fighters who shot dead a Russian pilot after his warplane was shot down by Turkey. The missile strike on the jet led to a bitter confrontation between Moscow and Ankara with a furious Vladimir Putin ordering economic sanctions and rushing advanced weaponry to his forces on the ground.
    .
    A tale has unfolded since then of Russians seeking retribution for the death of Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov, and accusing the Turkish authorities of protecting the pilot’s killer. It has also emerged that a hard-right Turkish nationalist group, the Grey Wolves, one of whose members once attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II, has become the latest violent addition to Syria’s savage conflict.
    .
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-turkish-ultra-nationalist-suspected-of-killing-russian-pilot-may-have-ties-to-the-a6987376.html

  4. Why do Turkish nationalists beat up and stick bags over US military persons heads in Turkey?Is there a reason for the bags?

    • Pure speculation but if I were to guess I’d say they/turkish-nationalists are attempting to parody US interogation methods of bagging a victim before being questioned.

    • It goes back to an incident in the Iraqi war when US troops captured Turkish spec ops in Iraqi territory and placed bags over their heads while they attempted to figure out just who exactly they were. That was common procedure for security reasons, but I guess the Turks took it kind of hard. They made an openly anti-semitic propaganda film about the whole ordeal called Valley of the Wolves. Of course they left out the parts where they support al qaeda and kill kurdish women and children.

      • Valley of the Wolves was a great film. You thought Hollywood brought out propoganda, you haven’t seen anything.
        .
        It was a long time since I saw it, but as I remember the basic plot was like this: turkish james bond wipes out a whole battalion of us marines who are after him because while investigating the US bombing of a wedding party he stumbles across the real reason for the US invasion of Iraq: not for WMD, but to harvest organs from dead Iraqi civilians to meet the demand for organ-replacement from the diseased and obese US population.
        .
        If the Turks ever get to re-write history, we know how they’re going to make the US look, thats for sure !

        • I remember reading about that movie. Forget about the blatant garden variety anti-Americanism. The acceptable level of anti-semitism was striking even for the middle east. In the film they had some jewish doctor(played by Gary Busey of course) harvesting organs from innocent Iraqis. And it was the highest grossing turkish film ever made. Kind of says some not so flattering things about turks.

          • Turks who I have known personally have been fine, but every country has a lunatic fringe and the Turkish one seems to be worse and more violently racist than most. Unfortunately Erdogan seems to be near to them.

          • Sounds about as plausible as the WMD scenario did back in the day 🙂 Word is Busey is to play Erdogan in part 2.Valley of the weasels.

    • Possible, if not likely. @Aswed_Flags affiliates himself with Ahrār. Though I don’t think he’s an actual fighter as he’s so active on Twitter every day, particularly when compared to @Q_QKMN, who’s a commander in JaN.

      • So ahrar may capture weapons from SAA and co,then sell to rebs for nice little profit?I can recall Aswed posting a pic from Icarda area during Sth Aleppo shia offensive,which proved the road was still usable.I thought he had taken photo,though i may be mistaken.

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6sRWxpeFGw&feature=youtube_gdata_player
        Maybe they use some of the raised money from possible arms sales to run their social services programs.This is a good way to get support from locals who have no services.Pretty sure Nusra run a similar social services operation.The security these groups bring,when compared to the virtual lawlessness that ensues when moderate FSA types take over areas,is another way these 2 groups prosper in rebel held Syria.

    • SAA´s incompetence is very famed -no wonder why hezbollahies laugh at them-. Their tendency is always the same: to systematically lose territory untill some foreign influx of forces temporarily props them up but SAA is like a cadaver.

      • Jund al aqsa may also giggle at their FSA comrades attempts at pretending the taking of this town is a group effort.1 group suicide bombs its way in and takes over?”Rebel” victory.Just remember,when u win the war,u have 2 fight these guys 🙂 I am taking bets,that in 18 months,Nusra and Jund al aqsa type groups,will never have been in an alliance with FSA,played a very minor role in todays proceedings,and were created by Assad.But are not as bad as Assad,who created ISIS.

    • Crazy shot at a fast moving truck. TOWs are a big reason why I’ve said it’s next to impossible for the regime to retake all of Latakia. No way regime can hold that type of terrain. Rebels can attack with a weapon that has better range than many of the tanks and vehicles they target. The Latakia offensive will be more important than the Ghab plain offensive if the rebels want to take control of Joureen. Joureen will be very difficult to take if the rebels can’ control the hills just west of it.

      • I am seeing a lot of new artillery pieces D30s aswell in latakia. Curious to see this new offensive how it will play out.

        • I have heard,Iranian IRGC,Hezbollah,Shia Militias occasionally shoot back at those shooting at them,and occasionally kill a rebel (unconfirmed) 🙂

            • Senior opposition figures have said pressure is growing for a speedy decision to leave talks being convened by U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, with no sign of progress towards discussion of a political transition sought by al-Assad’s opponents.

              The statement announced the “formation of a joint operations room to begin the battle… in response to violations by the army of Assad.” It gave no geographic location for the new battle.

              http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-syria-rebels-idUSKCN0XF0FG

            • @caligola
              This alleged build up of Iranian Special forces,Hezbo and Shia militias around Aleppo will want to be an impressive force.It has been a slow and steady alleged build up.They are said to already have a heavy presence in the area,before Tal eis was taken.Now we can see patches of units from Iran that before were almost impossible to find in Syria.They want these things known.So if all they do is retake tal eis and the major road to the rear is put under fire control,and they call that a major victory,i’m taking my bat and going home 🙂

  5. The ypg does not support the Assad regime.. Some of you fall victim to Turkish propaganda and divide and conquer strategy of Assad.

    • Local PYD organisations between Azaz and Hasakah aren`t a unified group.
      But what`s about PYD at Azaz fighting Rebel positions?

    • Next step of Netanyahus new politic of offensive confrontation is reached
      =========================================================
      1. His first step of confrontation was that Netanyahu has openly confirmed that NDF airraids have attacked Hizbollah inside Syria.
      2. Netanyahu now had convened the first-ever cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights, and used the occasion to declare that the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War would forever remain a part of Israel.
      http://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-vows-to-use-any-means-necessary-to-take-back-golan/

      • The Golan Heights were in effect annexed by Israel many years ago when they first conquered them. The area is high ground overlooking a large part of Israel, so rockets or heavy guns placed there would be a major threat. Strategically, Israel cannot give up the Golan.

    • Yeah YPG doesn’t side with regime it just launches joint offensives with regime against rebels because as YPG loves to tells us ALL rebels are twin-brothers of Daeesh including the Kurdish faction of the FSA which the YPG likes to attack days after any FSA offensive against Daeesh. Bravo on the projection (ie Turkish conspiracy of anti-YPG propaganda even though YPG regularly propagandises against rebels to speciously justify YPG offensives against rebels) though.

  6. Assads friendly fire against Hizbollah
    =============================
    The Kuwait newspaper “al-Jareeda” quoted Lebanese sources assurances that dozens of Lebanese members of Hezbollah militia were killed in al-Eis town of the southern countryside of Aleppo after being mistaken by air raids of the al-Assad’s regime warplanes with chemical weapons.
    http://en.eldorar.com/node/2041

    • @caligola

      It is strange that Landis’ “diplomatic sources” claimed Thuwwar Raqqa collaborating with ISIL to fight kurds. Thuwwar Raqqa is a well known YPG ally and fighting against ISIL since years. ISIL even tried to assassinate their leader in Turkey.

      • Meokur, Yes – if anyone is fighting Daesh than the Raqqa Revolutionarios because they have faught Daesh since the beginning. But the question remains why Landis makes such flawed allegations.

  7. Update:
    .
    #Hama: 1) “Regime army soldier captured in Ghab plain clashes today. Unconfirmed reports few Hezbollah militants captured too.” – NorthernStork
    .
    This is what happens when you launch a unexpected surprise raids or offensives as it catches many people with their pants down.
    .
    2) This has to be a joke but if true then it’s even more hilarious “Opposition intercept a Regime force transmission from #Al_Hakura calling on their Mahdi to save them as their defenses collapse.” – CombatChris1
    .
    #Observation: “MadMax Style bike #inghimasi raiders by @jndalaqsa pave the way for the #VBIED” –
    .
    I’ve been saying for weeks that rebels should launch IED raids – especially inside Afrin province – using motorbikes as the above comment shows motorbike raids are ideal (especially against checkpoints and better still at night time) for launching quick unexpected surprise raids (or even launch diversionary attacks to fool those being attacked?). I wonder we’ll be seeing much such types raids in southern Aleppo on vulnerable regime supply routes and check-points in future?

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