LATEST: 1st Syrian Refugees Arrive at New Camp in Jordan


Insurgents advanced further on Sunday in their offensive between Quneitra and Daraa in southwestern Syria, near the demilitarized zone with Israel.

Opposition fighters took the eastern hills of Tel al-Ahmar, having seized the western hills earlier this month.

Insurgents with destroyed regime armored vehicles:

The latest gain follows last week’s takeover of the Brigade 61 base, the largest regime position between northern Quneitra Province and central Daraa Province.

With the advance, insurgents control all of the area between the two cities, as well as part of Daraa city, where the Syrian uprising started in March 2011.

The offensive further partitions Syria between insurgents and the Assad regime, as the Syrian regime military consolidates its own gains to the north between Damascus and Lebanon. The opposition, which holds most of the north and east, is continuing to press regime forces in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

1st Syrian Refugees Arrive at New Camp in Jordan

Jordan’s third refugee camp, Azraq, received its first group of Syrians on Monday.

“A few hundred Syrian refugees started to arrive in Azraq camp this morning,” said Ali Bibi, spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Jordan.

The official inauguration of the camp, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Amman, will be on Wednesday. UN officials said it can host 50,000 people, and the total could rise to 150,000 with help from the international community and Jordan.

It is hoped that it will ease the pressure on the Zaatari camp, home to more than 100,000 refugees.

A third camp, Mureijeb Fhud, has almost 4,000 refugees.

More than 580,000 of the 2.7 million UN-registered Syrian refugees are now in Jordan. Only 20% live in camps.

Video: Aftermath of Sunday’s Barrel Bomb Attack on al-Sha’ar Section of Aleppo

Footage of the aftermath of one of the many regime barrel bomb attacks, killing almost 2,000 civilians since the start of the year.

Assad Registers for June 3 Presidential Election

President Assad has registered for re-election in the June 3 vote.

Assad, who faces nominal opposition from six declared candidates, said that the happiness of supporters of any Presidential candidate should be manifested first through “national awareness” and then through voting on time.

Assad called on all Syrian citizens not to use gunfire to express their happiness, particularly as “we are living an election atmosphere for the first time in Syria’s modern history”.

Claimed Video: Regime MiG Fighter Downed Near Damascus

Claimed footage of the downing of a Syrian MiG fighter near Dumayr, close to Damascus:

Insurgents claim they downed three MiGs flying over al-Dumayr airport in the eastern Qalamoun mountain range, as they cut supply routes from Iraq on the main hgihway to Baghdad.

The fighters said they launched “a surprise attack on regime barracks”, destroying two military checkpoints to the east of al-Dumayr and claiming artillery and other arms.

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Wheat Harvest in Syria May Be Worst in 40 Years

Syria, already facing food shortages amid the war across the country, is facing its worst wheat harvest in 40 years.

Some analysts are forecasting output to fall to 1/3 of the levels before the uprising of March 2011, possibly dropping below 1 million metric tons for the first time since 1973.

Agricultural experts, traders and Syrian farmers gave estimates ranging from 1 million metric tons to 1.7 million, a more pessimistic range than that given by the UN earlier this month.

At the start of 2011, Syria produced around 3.5 million metric tons of wheat.