PHOTO: Syrian women line up for aid at a refugee camp in Ketermaya, Lebanon (Bilal Hussein/AP)



How the Assad Regime is Fueling a Refugee Crisis
Syria and Beyond Feature: Refugees and Germany’s “New Tolerance”

Another million Syrians will flee their homes before the end of 2015 if there is no end to the civil war, a senior UN official has said.

Yacoub el-Hillo, the humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said more than a million people had already been displaced this year.

“Unless something big is done to resolve this conflict through political means, the human train that has started moving out of Syria and the neighborhood will continue to be running for many months to come,” he said.

More than 4 million Syrians are registered refugees, and an estimated 7.6 million have been forced from their homes inside the country. All together, more than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million have been displaced.

Hillo said that Syria’s neighbors such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are at crisis point because of the influx of people. He warned:

Europe will be faced with a refugee situation similar to the one that led to the creation of [the UN Refugee Agency] UNHCR in 1950.

The World Food Program has zero dollars to provide food to 5 million people inside Syria come November.

The WFP has already halved food vouchers to refugees in Lebanon and cut them altogether to almost 230,000 in Jordan this summer.

Hillo said the Program still needed $738 million to provide food for other refugees for the rest of 2015.

Speaking on American television on Sunday, former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said the Obama Administration’s misguided approach was preventing an effective approach:

You have to deal with the Assad problem. The administration’s focus in Syria, however, is not on the Assad brutality. It is on the Islamic State, and while that is a big problem, it is not going to fix the refugee problem.

Asked if the Administration’s focus on the Islamic State is wrong, Ford replied,

I absolutely do because the Assad regime’s brutality is driving recruitment into the Islamic State….

[The Islamic State is] able to recruit from angry, young Syrian men who are furious at the bombing that the Assad regime is inflicting on Syrian neighborhoods in Syrian regimes.

See Syria Feature: How the Assad Regime is Fueling a Refugee Crisis

Fighting on Important Frontline in Northeastern Latakia Province

Rebels report fighting on and near a mountain on an important frontline in northeastern Latakia Province.

The rebels claimed the demolition of five regime tanks in the village of Kaber Hashish as they advanced, and the Free Syrian Army said there were battles in Nabi Yunis, Jib al-Gharm, and Jib al-Ahmar.

Fighting is now reported atop Prophet Younis Mountain. The area is close to the northern al-Ghab Plain in neighboring Hama Province, most of which was taken by rebels this summer as they moved south after victories through northwest Syria.

Jaish al-Islam says it is also targeting Russian officers inside the Bassel al-Assad airport in Latakia with Grad rockets.

Smoke from fighting as rebels take Jib al-Gharm:

State news agency SANA claims that “dozens of terrorists were killed and injured during the clashes”.

Russia’s Lavrov Puts Pressure on US over Anti-Islamic State Coalition

Pushing the US to join a coalition against the Islamic State in Syria — thus relieving pressure on President Assad — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has chided Washington for not conducting airstrikes against the militants.

Lavrov said on State TV:

I hope I would not fail anyone by saying some of our counterparts, members of the coalition, say they sometimes have information about…the positions of Islamic State groups, but the coalition’s commander — in the US naturally — would not agree to deliver a strike.

Our American counterparts either from the very beginning did not establish the coalition thoroughly enough, or the idea was that it should have the goals other from those declared….

Analysis of the coalition’s aviation causes weird impressions. The suspicions are that, besides the declared goal of fighting the Islamic State, there is something else in that coalition’s goals.

Trying to prevent the political and military collapse of the Assad regime, Russia is pressing other countries to commit themselves to their version of a coalition against the Islamic State.

Lavrov said that the Syrian military would be part of the effort: “Excluding the Syrian armed forces from fighting the Islamic State is absurd. With all the options I have named, the most effective military force on the ground is the Syrian armed forces.”

At the same time, Moscow is stepping up the despatch of military supplies and Russian advisors into Syria. Lavrov repeated on Sunday:

There were military supplies, they are ongoing and they will continue. They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use these weaponry.

Jaish al-Islam Rebels: We Have Captured 20 Regime Posts and Checkpoints Near Damascus

The leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam says it has captured 20 regime posts and checkpoints near Damascus in its offensive of recent days.

Jaish al-Islam, following a merger with the al-Rahman Corps, launched operations to the northeast of the capital. It took a hill near the Adra Prison and attacked the prison itself, forcing the evacuation of women detainees. The offensive also claimed another hill near Harasta, close to Dahiyat al-Assad, and carried out attacks inside the town.

Positions taken included the headquarters of the Reserve General Staff; a military security branch; a compound for “Russian experts”; fuel stations, quarries, and cement depots; an electricity company; and a sugar factory.

The rebels claimed hundreds of regime troops were killed, wounded, or captured. A list of 111 names of slain soldiers has been posted.

Without admitting any casualties, the Syrian military closed the Damascus-to-Homs highway. Pro-Assad outlets have also acknowledged that Jaish al-Islam has taken territory around Adra and Harasta, also they claim the rebels were pushed back at Dahiyat al-Assad and failed to take positions in Harasta such as the hospital

See Syria Daily, September 13: New Rebel Attacks Near Damascus

The Jaish al-Islam spokesman, Captain Islam Alloush, said that Hezbollah reinforcements are now arriving from Zabadani — where they have been trying with regime forces for more than two months to take the town — and southern suburbs of Damascus.

Alloush said that, up to now, Jaish al-Islam had only faced Syrian Army units and fights from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Images of the fighting:

Smoke rises above the Dahiyat al-Assad area: