- Syria: Claimed Truce Between Abu Umar al-Shishani & Ahrar ash-Sham in Eastern Aleppo Province
- Lebanon: A Syrian Refugee Turns 100
A commander of the Syria Revolutionary Front has said that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has been defeated in insurgent-held areas of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
“Free Aleppo is now under the complete control of the Free Syrian Army,” the commander said. “One can now roam freely in the free part of Aleppo without coming across any fighter or headquarters belonging to ISIS.”
He said that ISIS members retreated to Al-Inzarat on the northeastern outskirts of the city, adding that “around 300 people detained by ISIS” had been freed.
“ISIS fighters took away with them a number of hostages from the Children’s Hospital while retreating,” he said. “We still don’t know if that happened because of the presence of foreigners among [the hostages].”
Videos posted earlier on Wednesday (see entries below) showed both prisoners freed from makeshift ISIS jails and those allegedly executed by the group as it withdrew.
Meanwhile, there were demonstrations both against and for ISIS in the city.
An anti-ISIS march:
A pro-ISIS gathering:
Civilians In Eastern Hama Countryside Complain Of SRF Men Looting Their Homes
Civilians in the village of al-Jazdaniyeh in the eastern Hama countryside complain that men from the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) looted their homes, ostensibly as part of a campaign to “get rid of ISIS”. Civilians have complained previously that the group have taken advantage of fighting to loot and steal.
Islamic State of Iraq Bombings Tonight
Reports are circulating of a series of bombings by Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham fighters, with an undetermined number of casulties.
One of the deadliest bombs is reportedly in Mayadeen in Deir Ez Zor Province in eastern Syria.
Videos: Multiple Child Victims In Regime Airstrike On Tel Rifaat, Aleppo
Video footage posted on Wednesday shows multiple child victims after Syria’s air force bombed a school in Tel Rif’aat, north of Aleppo city (map).
Some of the images in the videos are graphic.
Local paramedics evacuate some of the victims:
Details of the attack are still emerging. The number of casualties is not yet known.
Video: Fighting Between Insurgents and Islamic State of Iraq in Northwest Syria
Clashes in al-Dana, the first town taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham in Syria:
2 Swedish Journalists Freed
Two Swedish journalists reported missing in Syria in November have been freed.
Reporter Magnus Falkehed and photographer Niclas Hammarstrom were reported missing on November 25, as they were leaving Syria.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Meets Syrian Ambassador To Talk Geneva II
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail L. Bogdanov, called a meeting Wednesday with the Syrian Ambassador to discuss the upcoming Geneva II conference, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.
Bogdanov met with Riad Haddad at his own request, and the two discussed the current situation in Syria in the light of the talks, scheduled for January 22. No further details were given. Moscow has been silent about the Geneva II conference since the end of December.
Footage Of Air Raids In Daraya
Reports Of Prisoners Released From ISIS Headquarters In Aleppo
The Aleppo Media Center is reporting that around 300 prisoners detained by ISIS have been released from an ISIS headquarters in the city as a result of an agreement with Jabhat al-Nusra.
Images of Aftermath of Regime Airstrikes On Douma, Damascus Suburbs
A local photojournalist has posted powerful images of the aftermath of Tuesday’s regime airstrikes on Douma in the Damascus suburbs.
The full set of photographs can be seen here.
More images can be see here.
Opposition Coalition Rocked by Resignations Over Re-Election of President and “Peace” Conference
Dozens of the 120 members of the Syrian National Coalition have resigned in protest over the re-election of President Ahmed Jarba, as well as the group’s position on a proposed international conference in Switzerland on January 22.
The Coalition has extended its meeting to Wednesday in Turkey.
Jarba won a second term late Friday, defeating defected Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab by 65 votes to 52. Jarba is seen as the choice of Saudi Arabia, while Hijab is backed by Qatar and Turkey and aligned with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. Those who quit the Coalition say the Jarba bloc is intent on going to the January 22 “peace” conference in Geneva, despite the lack of guarantees demanded by the opposition. Coalition member Kamal Labwani said about 40 colleagues resigned in protest:
Jarba means Geneva means money. The coalition is trying to trick us. There is no assurance that they will bring down the regime at Geneva….Most Syrian people don’t want Geneva. We don’t need to convince ourselves to go to Geneva, we need to convince the Syrian people.
Labwani said Jarba had been offering assurances to the United Nations, the US, and Russia about the conference without consultation with the Coalition.
Civilians In Adra Face Terrible Conditions, Video Report Says
A video report made by local activists from the town of Adra north of Damascus shows the suffering of civilians amid continued regime shelling. The report shows civilians, including small children, standing in long lines to receive meager food supplies.
Video: Insurgents Claim “Liberation” of Aleppo Children’s Hospital Used as Prison by Islamic State of Iraq
Insurgents in front of the hospital (location):
There have been reports that ISIS executed several media activists at the hospital. Syria News Desk writes:
It was confirmed today that militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have summarily executed three media activists: Qutaiba Abu Yunus, Sultan Al-Shami and Amin Abu Muhammad, who were all members of the Ana Souri Assembly, in Aleppo. The late activists had been held captive by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group inside the Pediatric Hospital, in Aleppo’s neighbourhood of Kadi Askar.
On-the-ground sources told Syria Newsdesk last night that ISIL members have summarily executed at least 50 detainees, kept at the Pediatric Hospital-turned-ISIL-headquarters. Among those killed were media activists from Shadha Al-Hurriyah Channel, who were kidnapped by masked militants back in early December.
Meanwhile, a Jabhat Al-Nusra militant has confirmed, after he was able to enter the building and retrieve the body of his deceased brother, that there are tens of unidentified corpses in the hospital. The majority of the detainees incarcerated by ISIL were media and civil activists, in addition to Free Syrian Army and Islamist fighters.
Claimed Video: Prisoners Executed in Aleppo by Islamic State of Iraq
Activists claim more than 50 prisoners in Aleppo have been killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham, posting videos (Warning — Graphic Images):
More video has also been posted of prisoners freed from ISIS jails in Raqqa.
Opposition Expresses Concern Over Conditions of Evacuees Near Damascus
The opposition Syrian National Coalition has issued a statement of “extreme concern” about the fate of more than 1200 civilians “detained” on Sunday as they left Yalda, south of Damascus.
Activists claim the evacuees were rounded up by regime forces and pro-Assad Iraqi militia as they traveled from Yalda to the village of Hajeira. Some men were allegedly detained, women were abused, and there were casualties as the citizens were stripped of identity documents.
Activists and the Syrian Red Crescent also report that thousands of evacuees from Adra, north of Damascus, are being held in open air on the grounds of a cement factory, weeks after they left the town.
Prime Minister: Government’s “Remarkable Steps” Will Boost Economy
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi told the Cabinet on Tuesday that the Government’s goal is “remarkable, special steps” to boost the economy and develop its resources.
“The Government is keen to activate cooperation with the BRICS [Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa] countries and others, primarily Iran, through broadening bilateral relations to cover different economic, trade fields and to increase commercial deals,” al-Halqi said.
Al-Halqi said the initiative would decrease prices between 10% and 35%.
He asserted there was no problem with shortages, “The strategic stockpiles are available with different materials as they are sufficient for a number of years.”
Tuesday, the fifth day of confrontation between insurgents and the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham, was punctuated by talk of a truce.
Those signals, however, appear to be limited to the local level. Across much of northern Syria, the fight continues.
Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, the leader of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra, put out an audio statement for an immediate cessation of the fighting: “The whole battlefield, including the foreign and local fighters, will pay the price of losing a great jihad because the regime will rebound when it was so close to vanishing.”
Al-Joulani said that only “criminals” — a likely reference to the Syrian Revolutionary Front, part of the anti-ISIS camp, as well as ISIS — have exploited the fighting for their own benefit, and declared that mujahideen (jihadist fighters) must avoid a conflict between the Syrian insurgency and muhajireen (foreign fighters).
ISIS’s reply was dismissive, however. In their own audio later on Tuesday, a spokesman said that “jihad is the only way” in Syria and Iraq and — in a deliberate or unwitting echo of Winston Churchill — that “the only way [ahead] is through blood, flesh, and skulls”.
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said ISIS considers the opposition “[Syrian National] Coalition and National Council and the Chief of Staff and Military Council [to] have declared and begun a war on it”.
Everyone who belongs to this entity is a legitimate target for us, in all places, unless he publicly declares his rejection of that group and of fighting the mujahedeen….
[We will] crush them totally and kill the conspiracy at birth….None of you will remain, and we will make of you an example to all those who think of following the same path.
At the local level, video claimed a truce between insurgents and the Islamic Front in eastern Aleppo Province:
The claimed handwritten document shown in the video has been signed in Arabic by Abu Umar al-Shishani from the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, and by Abu Khalid as-Suri from Ahrar ash-Sham.
However, fighting continued in the north and northwest. Throughout the day, claims escalated of prisoners freed from ISIS detention and those who died there. The claimed list of victims rose to more than 100 during Tuesday.