LATEST: Footage: Kurdish Opposition Group YPG Opens Fire On Protesters In Mostly-Kurdish Town Of Amuda
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi has declared that the economy is “strong and balanced” for the third time in just over a week, with the Government adapting to the demands of the Syrian conflict.
Al-Halqi’s latest declaration was made to the People’s Assembly on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister spoke in particular about last week’s fall in the Syrian pound — more than 25% in one day — with the claim that it @has become the target of unprecedented media and financial attacks by some Arab capitals which are attempting to make citizens and businessmen abandon it”. He said that the Government had “bolstered citizens’ confidence” with steps to “clarify the nature of this media and economic war which is accompanied by spreading rumors.
Al-Halqi also issued ritual denunciations of “armed terrorist groups” and praise of the Army and security forces in “restoring security across Syria”. He claimed attacks by insurgents on a gas pipeline, flour mills, and medical factories.
State news agency SANA’s presentation of the discussion was not as positive about the reaction of MPs, however. They “pointed out that the government must exert more efforts to ease the living crisis of the steadfast people of Syria”, pointing to the need to compensate farmers for crops destroyed in the conflict and to secure main roads.
Footage posted on Thursday purportedly shows insurgents from the YPG, or the Popular Protection Units — a Kurdish armed opposition group — firing live ammunition on protesters in Amuda, a mostly Kurdish town in northeastern Syria.
Amuda came under YPG control in July 2012. There have been recent reports of protests in Amuda against the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish political party established by nationalists in 2003 and affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party. This report from earlier this week talks of protests against PYD alleged arrests of activists.
This video [warning — graphic images of injured people, blood] shows people wounded in the incident.
Map showing location of Amuda:
Regime forces have continued to shell neighborhoods in the northwest of Damascus, particularly Al Qaboun but also Jobar.
The Qaboun district is strategically located on the Damascus-Homs highway. Insurgents and the regime have been fighting to control this area since February. Jobar is also a key location, control of which provides access to the heart of Damascus.
Map showing locations of Qaboun and Jobar:
This footage, from Wednesday, shows a regime airstrike on Jobar, between the neighborhoods of Qaboun and Zamalka.
Footage from Thursday shows regime tanks shelling Qaboun from the road:
This short video, posted on Thursday, shows regime tanks attempting to enter the neighborhood:
This video, posted by the Qaboun Media Office, shows artillery fire on the neighborhood, and smoke rising as a result of fires:
This footage shows a large fire raging in an apartment building, the result of shelling by regime tanks:
The pro-regime Ikhbariya TV reports a suicide bombing near the Maryameye Orthodox Church in the Old City of Damascus.
The station said at least four people were killed in the attack in the central neighbourhood of Bab Touma, a famous Christian quarter of the capital.
Another twist in the battle within the Obama Administration over the arming of Syrian insurgents….
More than two weeks after the Administration said it would begin overt supplies — but then balked at the provision of heavy weaponry — “diplomats and U.S. officials briefed on the plans” have told The Wall Street Journal that “the Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month”.
The diplomats said the shipments, training, and arms deliveries from European and Arab countires are being timed for an insurgent offensive by early August.
Opposition commanders and fighters, particularly in the south and the Damascus suburbs, have complained about the American failure to deliver weapons and warned that this could lead to regime victories throughout the area.
The leak appears designed to sway the debate within the Administration, as well as to give a signal to insurgents and Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis have been providing weaponry, including anti-tank missiles, across the Turkish border. On Tuesday, in a public challenge to visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal signaled that Riyadh would expand the effort, irrespective of American concerns.
The Journal’s sources said that the CIA is expected to spend up to three weeks bringing light arms — and possibly anti-tank missiles — to Jordan. The agency plans to spend roughly two more weeks vetting an initial group of fighters and making sure they know how to use the weapons that they are given.
Apparently trying to control the efforts of foreign allies, the officials and diplomats said Saudi Arabia is expected to provide shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, known as Manpads, to handpicked fighters — but only about 20 in the first effort. The sources said
talks are under way with other countries, including France, about pre-positioning European-procured weapons in Jordan.
The officials had a further message for the Saudis: “the U.S. would monitor this effort, too, to try to reduce the risk that the Manpads could fall into the hands of Islamists”.
The sources said they “believe it would take four to five months before there are enough rearmed and trained moderate fighters to make a meaningful difference against Mr. Assad’s forces and their Hezbollah allies”.
Amnesty International has called on Damascus to drop charges against five human rights activists whose trial put on hold on Wednesday for another two months.
The five men from the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), all of whom have allegedly been ill-treated in custody, were due to appear at the Anti-Terrorism Court. The session was postponed until 21 August.
The five men, including the head of the SCM, Mazen Darwish, were arrested on 16 February 2012 in a raid on the organization’s offices. They were charged with “publicizing terrorist acts”.
Three of the activists — Darwish, Hussein Gharir, and Hani al-Zitani — have been detained since then. The other two men, Mansour al-Omari and Abd al-Rahman Hamada, were released conditionally in February 2013.