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UPDATE 1900 GMT: Insurgents claim they have re-gained control of the Sheikh Najjar industrial area, east of Aleppo, after more clashes with regime forces on Tuesday.
On a Monday marked by fighting and a local cease-fire, Syrian forces claimed they are on the verge of taking the Sheikh Najjar industrial area east of Aleppo.
State media have proclaimed the imminent victory for weeks; however, video posted yesterday supported claims of Assad forces inside the area amid heavy clashes.
The Syrian military is trying to build on success last autumn, when it opened a corridor to its areas in Aleppo with the capture of the town of as-Safira.
Elsewhere, State media claimed the Syrian military had re-taken the village of Maan in Hama Province, captured by insurgents earlier this month. Assad forces also continued attacks on the city of Yabroud, northeast of Damascus.
In a contrast to the fighting, the weekend’s cease-fire in Babbila in southern Damascus was marked by pictures of regime flags draping the town hall and Syrian officers and insurgents greeting each other in the streets, with aid being delivered to civilians besieged for months.
State news agency SANA hailed the agreements in Babbila and near-by areas of Yalda and Beit Sahem: “Feelings of happiness overwhelmed the families who returned to the area after they ran away in fear of the terrorists’ acts, and the maintenance workshops continued removing garbage and opening roads for the children to go back to school.”
Video: Insurgent “Tank-Hunter” Unit in Qalamoun Region
Footage of insurgents seeking out regime tanks amid the Syrian military’s offensive in the Qalamoun region:
Insurgents have claimed the destruction of several tanks as Syrian troops and Hezbollah have tried to seize territory around the city of Yabroud in the past week.
Video: Protest in Homs Against Recent Ceasefires
A demonstration in the besieged area of Homs denounces truces between the Syrian regime and opposition forces:
Islamic Front: Don’t Criticize Truces Near Damascus
The bloc said people should not talk of “betrayal” by the Free Syrian Army or “traitors” when a village or suburb accepts a ceasefire, given the “massive pressure” of the months-long siege by Syrian forces.
Insurgents have a bit of fun with the recent proclamations of ceasefires and weapons handovers by opposition fighters:
Opposition Concern Over 200+ Homs Evacuees Still in Detention
The Syrian National Coalition has expressed “deep concern” over the fate of more than 200 men, evacuated from the Old City of Homs earlier this month, who are still detained by Syrian authorities.
United Nations observers say 335 men were held among the 1,400 civilians who left the area after an evacuation brokered amid the Geneva II conference. Syrian officials said those who recanted ties with the opposition would be freed, but those linked to “terrorism” would be arrested.
Referring to pictures of thousands of detainees abused and killed in Syrian prisons, the Coalition said, We should not forget that in the run up to the Geneva talks, leaked photographic images showed the Assad regime has been carrying out torture and summary executions on an industrial scale, against civilian detainees for nearly three years during the Syrian uprising against tyranny and injustice.”
Turkey Closes Border Crossings Amid Insurgent Fighting with Islamic State of Iraq
Insurgent fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham in northwest Syria, including a challenge to ISIS control of the town of Azaz, has prompted Turkish authorities to close border crossings:
Reyhanli, Cilvegozu ( Bab Al Hawa) and Kilis Oncupinar (Bab al Salame) border crossing are closed again becasue of clashes in Syrian side
— Freelance Journalist (@Fixer_Turkey) February 18, 2014
Children Killed, Cut in Half by Assad Regime’s Bombing of Daraa School
Video — too graphic to be posted — testifies to the horrific deaths of children in a bombing by Syrian forces of a school in Muzayrib in Daraa Province.
Other footage illustrates the brutality of the attack: