Syria Daily: Assad Regime’s Chemical Attack Kills 100+

Witnesses and videos document Assad regime’s chemical attack as international community considers response


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UPDATE 1900 GMT: Donald Trump, reading from a statement at a press conference alongside Jordan’s King Abdullah II, says the “horrific” “heinous actions” by the Assad regime “cannot be tolerated”.

The President said the chemical attack “crossed a lot of lines for me” and so his attitude towards “Syria and Assad has changed very much”.

Asked if the US will act against Assad, Trump said, “You will see.”

At a Security Council session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley — holding up pictures of children who died in the attack — said action will to be taken outside the UN if necessary, and Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “[This] was a heinous act and will be treated as such.”


UPDATE 1645 GMT: Father Abdul Hamid Youssef holds his twins, Ahmed and Aiya, killed along with 16 other members of his family on Monday:

SYRIA CHEMICAL ATTACK 15 04-04-17


UPDATE 1530 GMT: Médecins Sans Frontières‎ says, from examination of eight patients and accounts of medical staff, that the attack on Khan Sheikhoun likely used a “hybrid” of a nerve agent and chlorine.

MSF said the victims had “symptoms consistent with exposure to chemical substances…[and] a neurotoxic agent like sarin gas”.

Medics reported the patients smelling of bleach, “suggesting they had been exposed to chlorine”. Thus, “medical reports strongly suggest that victims of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to a at least two chemical agents”.


UPDATE 1245 GMT: Iran has finally issued a statement on the chemical attacks, condemning any use “regardless of the perpetrators”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the incident showed the need to combat “terrorist groups” and said the attack was an attempt to disrupte the political process.


ORIGINAL ENTRY: A chemical attack by the Assad regime’s warplanes on a town in northwest Syria has killed more than 100 people and wounded more than 300.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib Province occurred about 6:30 a.m. A local doctor and then the Union of Medical Care Organizations, a coalition of international aid agencies that funds hospitals in Syria, put out the rising toll of deaths and injuries.

See initial summary, pictures, and videos in Syria Developing: 58+ Killed in Assad Regime’s Latest Chemical Attacks

Rescuers tried to save people in the streets by hosing off the chemical agent from clothing and skin. However, victims — many of them children — died on the spot, half-undressed after the failed attempt at revival, or in Khan Sheikhoun’s only clinic.

A 14-year-old resident, Mariam Abu Khalil, said she was walking to school when she saw an aircraft drop a bomb on a one-story building, raising a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. As she sheltered in her home, she saw several people arrive by car to help the wounded: “When they got out, they inhaled the gas and died.”

Mohammad Nejdat Youssef, 23, ran into “a winter fog — not quite yellow but not quite white” as he neared the site to rescue victims. He started to lose his balance, his eyes stung, his nose began to stream, and he started foaming at the month. He recovered after local treatment, but his pregnant wife and nephew were taken to Turkey for treatment after being caught in the cloud when it moved downwind.

The rescue attempt was further hindered in what appeared to be a coordinated effort to destroy any medical services. The clinic was hit by up to eight strikes:

The attack on the clinic, in the civil defense building:

The regime has regularly carried out chemical attacks, despite the supposed handover of all chemicals after its August 2013 use of sarin near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people. Chlorine has been since spring 2014, and increasingly in recent months, on opposition areas in Hama, Aleppo, and Idlib Provinces. An attack near ISIS-held Palmyra in central Syria killed at least 85 people.

However, Monday’s attack — through munitions dropped from an Su-22 warplane, according to some local sources — was distinct in the apparent use of a nerve agent, separate from or in combination with chlorine. Victims suffered convlusions and foaming at the mouth while displaying pinpoint pupils, a sign of poisoning by an organophosphate like sarin.

Dr. Shajul Islam’s report as victims were being treated:

AFP photographer Mohamed Al-Bakour described the scene as he arrived at a small hospital in Maarat al-Num’an, about 15 km (9 miles) from Khan Sheikhoun:

When I get to the hospital, a foul smell hangs over the place. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Children are lying on beds and medics are frantically trying to save them. It’s a small hospital in Maaret al-Numan, where I live, about 15 kilometers from Khan Sheikhun where the attack took place. They are putting oxygen masks on the children. It’s mayhem — the children crying, the medics barking orders.

SYRIA CHEMICAL ATTACK 12 04-04-17

Photo: Omar Haj-Kadour/AFP

Regime Denial, International Condemnation

Inspection teams travelled from Turkey on Wednesday afternoon to begin testing to determine the exact nature of the chemical used.

A US Government official said Washington believed sarin was used, “almost certainly” by regime forces.

The Syrian military — as it has with all other chemical attacks — denied responsibility. The Russian Defence Ministry initially said its pilots had not carried out the strikes. It later put out a confusing, unsupported statement that the regime’s air force had destroyed a warehouse, east of Khan Sheikhoun, where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq.

It was unclear whether the Russians were claiming that the deaths in the town had been caused by the supposed bombing of the warehouse. The Defense Ministry’s spokesman said the warehouse was struck at 12:30 p.m. local time, six hours after Khan Sheikhoun was attacked.

Chemical weapons expert Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said the Russian explanation was “completely unsustainable” and “pretty fanciful”: “Axiomatically, if you blow up sarin you destroy it [before it can be used]”.

Syrian Deputy Feisal al-Mikdad claimed in an interview with the pro-Assad outlet al-Mayadeen that the regime provided the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with information on the transporting of toxic substances into Syria by the “terrorist” organization Jabhat al-Nusra.

Neither the UN nor the OPCW has indicated that they were given any such documents.

Iran, Assad’s other essential ally, limited itself to repeating the Syrian military’s denial.

The international community condemned the Assad regime, with France, the UK, and the US proposed a Security Council resolution. The draft text says the regime must provide an international investigation with flight plans and logs for Tuesday, the names of all helicopter squadron commanders, and access to airbases.

Turkey threatened to break off its recent cooperation with Russia on political maneuvers, through a phone call from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura also pointed to regime responsibility, saying the “horrific” chemical attack had come from the air. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “The horrific events of yesterday demonstrate unfortunately that war crimes are going on in Syria (and that) international humanitarian law is being violated frequently”. He declared that the UN wanted to establish accountability for such crimes and he was “confident the UN Security Council will live up to its responsibilities”.

SYRIA CHEMICAL ATTACK 13 04-04-17

Photo: Omar Haj-Kadour/AFP

Syrian opposition member Basma Kodmani criticized the attack as a “direct consequence” of recent statements by American officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, which suggested the Trump Administration now accepts that Assad will remain in power.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the incident was a deliberate test of the Trump Administration and urged Washington to clarify its position on Assad.

Trump’s statement, issued after some hesitancy by the White House, focused on his predecessor Barack Obama, blaming him for not enforcing a declared “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and labelling the attack “a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution”.

The President’s criticism was at odds with his advice in September 2013 to Obama not to respond to the Assad regime’s killing of more than 1,400 people in sarin attacks near Damascus:

SYRIA CHEMICAL ATTACK 14 04-04-17

PHOTO: Ammar Abdallah/Reuters

TOP PHOTO: Young victims of Tuesday’s chemical attack (Mohamed al-Bakour/AFP)


Video: Pro-Assad Forces Firing Rockets from “Safe Haven” in Northern Hama

Pro-opposition activists say pro-Assad forces are using an effectively “safe haven” in the mainly-Christian town of Mhardeh in northern Hama Province to fire rockets on rebels.

The rockets are supporting a regime effort to regain the nearby town of Halfaya.

Footage from Mhardeh shows movement of the pro-regime militiamen and the firing of munitions:

During their offensive in northern Hama, launched more than two weeks ago, rebels surrounded Mhardeh but said they would not attack because of the religious sensitivities around any assault.

On Monday, residents of Mhardeh issued a statement calling on the pro-Assad fighters to depart: “These militias are launching attacks from Mhardeh’s soil on our Syrian brothers. We are demanding that the militias leave.”

A resident told Syria Direct, “The city is practically under occupation because of the huge number of Iranian and Iraqi militias, Hezbollah fighters and National Defense Forces.”


Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Tries to Kill Leading Rebel Commander

The Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham bloc has tried to killed a top commander of the rebel faction Free Idlib Army.

While both groups fight against the Assad regime, HTS is vying with rebel groups for leadership in northwest Syria.

HTS fighters ambushed the car of commander Ahmad al-Soud near the town of Maarat al-Num’an. He survived and is in a safe house; however, Colonel Ali al-Semahi was killed.

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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.

66 COMMENTS

  1. ass add used #Sarin three times:
    – August 2013 in Eastern #Ghouta
    – December 2016 in Eastern #Hama
    – April 2017 in Southern #Idlib
    damn coward saudis need sarin more than innocents women and chilrden in syria…stop this massacre..supply the manpads a.s.a.p.

    • At least this time no one…..No one is falling for the typicall pathetic regime/russian excuse that rebel chemical arsenal was hit. Someone should tell the russians to improve their creativity in inventing stories rather than supporting chemical Bashar with this bs.

      • “No one is falling for the typicall pathetic regime/russian excuse that rebel chemical arsenal was hit”

        Only the usual legion of incurable retards

      • No one is falling for the typicall pathetic regime/russian excuse that rebel chemical arsenal was hit

        Except that none one is able to explain how a CW shell was supposed to be delivered by an Su22. No helicopters were seen in the area.

        Nor has anyone explained how rescuers were able to handle victims with bare hands and not be affected by poison that is rapidly absorbed through the skin, much less why onlookers standing right next to them who didn’t even have gas masks were entirely unaffected.

        • This is your 3rd post today posting this bullshit that SU22 cant deliver WMDs……how many times more do you want to be laughed at?? Lets add this up to your long list of crap you posted in here in the last years. Cardboard tank passed as an M1A2 still at 1st spot though.

  2. https://correspondent.afp.com/first-thing-hits-you-smell
    I have not seen any reports back from those chemical vans that did testing so still waiting.I noticed that English speaking doctor has guaranteed not chlorine attack as he knows what that smells like.Sarin has no smell?These reporters who turned up say the first thing you notice,is a strange smell.I also saw people yesterday talking about that English doctor walking up to a patient,and saying how strong the smell coming off the patients was.So its not chlorine,but it stinks.

    • magpie see with your eyes dude..not with your nose…this mass murderer of women and children are crime against humanity… use yr sense as a human…please reply if you are not zombies.

    • It was no chlorine for sure but i have doubts on Sarin too. Sarin is extremely deadly and rescuers themselves would have had a terribile job in trying to assist the victims (dunno if white helmets have proper breathing gear or some sort of NBC suite). This is true in big warheads like in SCUD missiles but here we are speaking of about 2 ASM ordinances which have a rather small warhead. So could be Sarin aswell but…..i rather think it was a kind of mixture. This has been done often by the regime in order to “hide it”. Pure Sarin probably would have created a rather nastier picture (on the ground and on the news) and could have been spotted out easily by that same convoy you talk about. Chlorine we are all aware of the fact that has zero credibility here.

      • @Caligola
        Things are all over the place.SU-22 delivered.Not chlorine.Stinks but could be Sarin.Nobody can really say what it smells like.I saw someone mention Arsine,which has a garlic type smell,but this is just speculation.Those van samples are critical to finding out what it was.

        • magpie/cali…this deadly nerve agent is a choking sarin gas for sure…symptoms is immediately after inhalation..really a nasty way to killed..it has a fingerprint of damn blood thirsty of ass add regime…

          • As i said it might be Sarin since the warheads were not big. Impact from ASM missile shows that. So it might have well been a small size attack involving indeed Sarin thus not creating the carnage as if delivered by a Scud warhead (thx god we might add). But again i am looking too at that convoy to have the answers. I am sill more inclined in a mixture rather then pure Sarin. I mean if i was the regime and i know i had to get rid of my WMD i wouldent fire pure Sarin after that. Because that would even make their pathetic excuses of the rebel ammo depo not stand for a second since of course rebels have not a fck idea of even how Sarin looks like either than seeing it when dropped on thjem.

            • Or they could drop whatever they wanted and then say they didn’t and get the Russians to run interference for them.

              You know, unleash a bunch of trolls to “suggest” (but let’s wait months like reasonable people) for a full investigation) it was a rebel stockpile of sarin that they made in their kitchens, type of stuff.

              And then count on the world to do nothing. Wait until the controversy blows over, and do it again.

              • “You know, unleash a bunch of trolls to “suggest” (but let’s wait months like reasonable people) for a full investigation) it was a rebel stockpile of sarin that they made in their kitchens, type of stuff.
                And then count on the world to do nothing. Wait until the controversy blows over, and do it again.”

                Lol yeah! that´s exactly how it works. Add to the trolls an army of sincere and faithful morons.

              • If a warehouse was bombed, the chemicals would have been incinerated, not dispersed.

                That’s baloney. No substance is perfectly combustible. That’s like suggesting that bombing an oil refinery would instantly burn up all hydrocarbons present.

                There has been no evidence ever presented that any non-state actor has ever produced a CW capacity of the scale needed for these attacks.

                These attacks were not of any large scale. Only one shell with small traces of Sarin was found in 2013.

            • Thanks for your insight. If military-grade sarin was not used, then this supports the idea that the toxic agent was homemade, an imitation of an organophosphate substance. This is congruent with the notion that the rebels were mixing chemicals.

              • If a warehouse was bombed, the chemicals would have been incinerated, not dispersed.

                There has been no evidence ever presented that any non-state actor has ever produced a CW capacity of the scale needed for these attacks.

              • I dont think you have much of a clue on this topic or expertise to claim something. Military-grade sarin is the only one that exists there is no other use. This same solution can be mixed with other agents. Has been done by the regime other times. The missile used was an ASM fired from a SU 22. Impact on the ground well documented. Please stop this bs crap of the rebels sitting on piles of Sarin or intent in mixing chemicals. It would be a great laugh but unfortunately there are 100+ gassed to death civilians accounted for. By your idol. Chemical Bashar.

            • You can make sarin from any organic fertiliser! It is obvious that military-grade sarin was not used here, and so it logically means that homemade sarin was the toxic agent responsible, and so the rebels are the likely culprits. But let’s wait and see the results of the investigation and if any of the bombs/missiles dropped on the factory/depot contained traces of nerve agent. If they didn’t, then the rebels are responsible.

              • But how the hell do you know it was homemade and not used from SAA military? Your assumption is made only on your ideas. Which i think are completely on the wrong path.

          • Any aircraft capable of carrying a bomb can carry a chemical bomb (fitted with a barometric fuse). The SU-22 aircraft is in the news because it was seen in the area of the chemical attack.

            • Here are the three issues: 1.The nerve agent used appears not to be militayr-grade sarin, but rather a diluted or imperfecly mixed version of it. That is why most of the medical staff are not affected and why the death count is less than it would be. 2. The Su-22s are clearly shown dropping conventional explosive devices that go up in smoke. That would not occur if they were dropping toxic gas capsules. 3. There appear to be no rebels among the dead. as with Ghouta 2013. Surely, the SAA would use chemical weapons to kill armed rebels if it had made a decision to use such unconventional arsenal (which it no longer has in any case). So, we can deduce that either the Su-22s hit a depot allowing toxic gas manufacured by the rebels to escape or the rebels used the incident as an opportunity to deliberately gas civilians knowing that the government would be blamed because of its airstrikes. These are the only two logical possibilities at the present time.

              • “The Su-22s are clearly shown dropping conventional explosive devices that go up in smoke”

                Lol and what the hell do you know about weapon systems and CW?

        • The one with zero credibility is you in here. Keep the laughs coming in with your SU22 technical updates 🙂

    • What the Trump administration points out is that Obama rationalized not bombing Syria years ago because there was an agreement to dismantle Syria’s CW arsenal achieving the same goal of the famous red line statement. Well, there were many people who have expertise in this region who counseled that the Syrian regime would simply replenish their stockpiles at will. In addition, the EU/USA paid for a toxic waste dump cleanup program that was more of a liability than asset to Assad. Also, How about many experts warned Bill Clinton about North Korea’s intentions? Now North Korea has several functioning nuclear devices and are foolishly intimidating regional countries with this new weapons system. How about Obama’s argument about the Iranian nuclear deal? We all know where that one is going. The mullahs have not abandoned their nuclear arsenal program. They are doing all of the prerequisite R&D with the 100’s of millions of dollars Obama foolishly gave them. they are also using those monies to foment insurgencies/terrorism in several places. Progressives are sea gulls, they come in make a lot of noise, crap everywhere, then leave. As for what’s going on in Syria, its red on red.

  3. No explanation has been offered as to why the Syrian government, just days from an international peace conference, and currently making rapid military advances, would gas 100 civilians (not rebels) and incur the wrath of world opinion? Why, having got rid of its chemical stock 3 years ago, would it announce that it has reneged on the agreement and kept sarin or whatever? Is Assad just stupid? Of course not. The only motive for carrying out this action would be to try and get Assad blamed and invite intervention. Why, also, were the “white helmets” on the scene in a relatively small city that was not on the frontline of the fighting? Anyway, if Syrian jets did bomb an Al-Qaeda chemical weapons factory, this should be discovered by the UN investigation. The rush to judgment here is farcical.

    • The answer is simple: Assad is a terrorist.

      Terrorists seek to influence politics through fear; the Assad regime has always relied on fear to keep the population in line. Chemical weapons attacks instil fear.

      As for the wrath of the world: Russia will protect him from any consequences. But there will likely be none.

      • No. The use fo chemical weapons has no miliitary or political benefit for Assad. He’s winning the war, and so doesn’t need such terrible publicity (especially as he agreed to hand over all of his chemical weapons) that would also embarrass his allies, Iran and Russia. The bombing of the town does make sense if it was to destroy an arms depot. It remains to be seen if the rebels took advantage of this attack to gas the villagers they had kidnapped and then try and pin the blame on Assad. The truth will out.

        • “It remains to be seen if the rebels took advantage of this attack to gas the villagers they had kidnapped”

          So now we have a combination of the previous conspiracies. Please, this level of stupidity is almost unbearable!

        • Yeah, he was “winning the war” the last big chemical attack, too. You know, right before Russia and Iran had to bail him out.

          The political benefit is obvious for an tyrant: terrorize the population so much that they’ll be too terrified to oppose him in the future.

          As for making Sarin out of fertilizer: in small quantities perhaps. Enough to kill a hundred? No.

    • “Why, also, were the “white helmets” on the scene in a relatively small city that was not on the frontline of the fighting?”

      lol are you for real or you are just vomiting wrong facts in order to cover up the usual war crimes? Khan Sheikhoun, you genius, has been bombed even not long ago, regime and russia hit mostly behind the front lines to peacfull towns just to spill pure terror on its civilian population. The white helmets are stationed in most big rebel held towns. Give us a break or come up with something serious.

    • Just because he said that the chemical attack made him change idea on Syria and Assad doesnt mean anything. Trump changes idea on a bit too many things lately.

      • Trump just screwed the pooch. He said Assad has “crossed many lines” in referring to the gas attack.
        .
        He criticized Obama for not doing anything after the “red line” was crossed.
        .
        If he doesn’t respond, he can’t complain about Obama not doing anything when the red line was crossed.

        • Yes, his words were interesting. Nothing definitive. Lots of options. None good from an American persective.

          • He could cruise missle strike Assad’s airforce. There would be a lot of domestic political advantages to doing so …

    • Wrong: The Syrian army canno be everywhere and that is why the war continues. It is the shortage of manpower that prevents Assad from finishing off the rebels.

    • f the russians or iranians never showed up this war would have been over ages ago.

      Similarly, if the US, Al Qaeda, ISIS, tens of thousands of foreign fighters and billions in money, arms and shiny Toyota pickups hadn’t been poured into this war, there wouldn’t have been a war.

  4. #Deraa: “An under-reported story: the Syrian regime’s secretive assassination campaign against rebels in Daraa” – JohnArterbury
    .
    Which shows either there’s alot of regime informants (amongst senior Southern Front officers?) in Deraa or alot of regime surveillance of rebel communications.

  5. If I were Trump and wanted to clearly distinguish myself from my predecessor, I’d unilaterally retaliate by destroying Assad’s airforce.

    It would fit my “America is powerful again” narrative, distract from my other problems at home, and at very little cost to the US.

  6. Yes, but I wouldn’t do anything unilaterally. If the Saudis, jordanians offered their airbases to coalition planes, that would have better optics. I don’t know where Sisi would fall on that one, he’s known to be leaning towards Assad over the rebels who emulate the Muslim brotherhood. Hurting Assad helps the jihadis who are our enemies.

    • “Hurting Assad helps the jihadis who are our enemies.”

      No. That’s the problem with our entire approach. Assad is a major liability in fighting our enemies.

      1) Assad can’t control the territory of Syria: he doesn’t have the troops or enough friends. That gives jihadis space in which to operate.

      2) Assad and his atrocities are a great recruiting poster for radicals, and for jihadi fund raising.

      3) There are people in Syria who would and/or are fighting our enemies. Assad is either forcing them to work with the jihadis, or is attacking them while they are attacking the jihadis. He has been indifferent/incompetent in attacking the jihadis himself.

      From the beginning we should have been cultivating anti-Assad Syrian nationalists to replace Assad. Syria would have avoided this mess, and the world would be a lot safer. Instead we are buying into this fiction that the world is a better place with chemical Bashir in it.

      • @Woody
        You have valid points. It is much more complicated now with Russian combat forces in theater. They will also veto any UN resolutions regarding use of force. Still, even that can be managed. I do believe there are significant Syrian government forces/police that will defect if given a reasonable chance of success. Actions speak louder than words.

      • @Woody, in re: to #3, and that is what they seemed to be attempting to do for the first few years of the conflict with very little results to show for it. Been plenty of criticism on this site about the failed programs. I think that was Obamas only real attempt at doing something. Once the TOWs started showing up it changed the dynamics. And frankly, I think there is an argument to be made that once the TOWs entered the scene it invited in Iran and Russia,


      • 1) Assad can’t control the territory of Syria: he doesn’t have the troops or enough friends. That gives jihadis space in which to operate.

        Pretty stupid argument. He controls more than any other group. In Assad were to be removed, no other group would be able to control the territory of Syria.

        2) Assad and his atrocities are a great recruiting poster for radicals, and for jihadi fund raising.

        Blah blah blah. Need you be reminded that the greatest recruitment poster for radicals was the US invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Gadaffi?

        3) There are people in Syria who would and/or are fighting our enemies.

        Yeah and some of them are you enemies.

        Assad is either forcing them to work with the jihadis, or is attacking them while they are attacking the jihadis.

        Umm, that might have something to do with the fact they are attacking him and committed to his removal.

        From the beginning we should have been cultivating anti-Assad Syrian nationalists to replace Assad.

        Oh yeah, like that plan has worked in the past right? This sums up the utter clueless of Americans who think they can grow opposition groups like tomatoes and engineer them to behave as required. Need you be reminded of who cultivated this guy?

        http://www.lovingenergies.net/gfile/75r4!-!GJMDEK!-!zrzor45!-!PLFHISQH-LKML-HEGF-MPQI-GMOFEMFOGIHO!-!72y1nq/binladeninterview.jpg

        • Andre, your last paragraph would be hilarious if it weren’t so true. “No good deed goes unpunished”.

  7. #Deraa: “Many accounts report that some unidentified warplanes have been bombing Assad positions in Daraa, south Syria, since an hour.” – fuadhud
    .
    Now would be the ideal time for rebels in southern Syria to use the presumably Israeli airstrikes across Deraa to launch a surprise offensive to capture capture Khirbet Al-Ghazal, if rebels fail it’ll atleast divert troops away from Manshiya and if rebels succeed they’ll end up permanently cutting the only supply routes Assadists in Deraa have with Damascus.

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