PHOTO: A man bloodied by Russia’s attack on the town of Maarat al-Num’an on Saturday



Developing: Jabhat al-Nusra Detains Leading Activists in Idlib Province

There has been another mass killing by Russian airstrikes in northwest Syria, with more than 40 people dead and 170 wounded after an attack on the town of Maarat al-Num’an in Idlib Province on Saturday.

Activists said the bombing struck a courthouse and a prison. Video and pictures showed dead, injured, and bloodied civilians and shrouded bodies.

The names of 41 victims have been posted. One civil defense worker said on Sunday that the death toll had risen to 96.



Civil defense workers in the rubble:

The White Helmets civil defense said at least three people were killed and four others were injured in another strike in Idlib Province, targeting a school and a fire department in Ariha

The Local Coordination Committees documented 103 deaths across Syria on Sunday. Of the casualties, 67 were in Idlib Province and 17 in Aleppo Province..

Russian bombing killed more than 1,000 civilians between September 30, the start of the aerial intervention, and the end of 2015. Last month one of the strikes killed scores of people near Maarat al-Num’an, south of Idlib city.

Despite Moscow’s initial claims that its campaign is focused on the Islamic State, about 80% of attacks have been on opposition-held areas.

Video: Hezbollah Tour of Madaya Claims Food Available, Rebels Stealing

Hezbollah has released a video claiming to be of its tour of part of the besieged town of Madaya:

In the video, a child and an elderly man denounce rebels for stealing food. The old man says, “The opposition is the cause of our misery! They raise prices, kill anyone that opposes them, they killed my grandchildren!”

However, questions have been raised as to whether the video is current — Robert Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, notes that the civilians are not dressed for winter.

The footage also shows food to claim that the population is not starving:

Video: Baby Retrieved from Rubble of Airstrike on Douma

A rescuers retrieves the body of a baby from the rubble of an airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Douma.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said at least seven people died in the latest attack on Douma.

Since the summer, hundreds of civilians have been killed in the suburb as the Syrian regime tries to break the resistance of the population and the rebels, notably the Jaish al-Islam faction, based there.

Petition to UK Parliament for Aid Drops to Starving Madaya

A petition has been launched calling on the British Parliament to authorize aid drops to people in areas like Madaya, where thousands are threatening by starvation after a six-month regime siege.

More than 30 people died last month from malnutrition in Madaya, northwest of Damascus, and doctors say two to three are perishing daily.

The Assad regime finally agreed on Thursday that the UN could deliver aid to the town, which has received only one limited delivery of assistance since July. The convoy is supposed reach Madaya on Monday.

See Syria Daily, Jan 8: Assad Regime Says Aid Can Go Into Starving Madaya
Syria Feature: Starvation in Madaya — “Everything is Gone”

Assad Regime: We Are Ready to Join Talks on January 25

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem has said the Assad regime is “ready to take part in consultations” in Geneva on January 25.

Al-Moallem made the declaration on Saturday in a meeting with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is hoping to convene an opposition-regime meeting amid the discussions.

However, the Foreign Minister also indicated that the talks are conditional on provision of “a list of delegation members from the opposition and a list of terrorist organizations”.

An opposition-rebel negotiating team was named last month at a conference in Saudi Arabia; however, the Assad regime — along with allies Russia and Iran — is seeking to exclude some of the rebel factions, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam.

President Assad has said that a political transition cannot begin until “terrorists” are defeated.

Three sets of international talks culminated in mid-December with a proposal for the opposition-regime negotiations by the end of January, leading to an 18-month transition beginning from the end of March. The process envisages ceasefires, a new Constitution, and elections; however, it took no position on the future of Assad.

The opposition-rebel team reiterated to de Mistura last week that Assad must step down. It also set preconditions for negotiations, including ceasefires with a halt to aerial bombardment, release of detainees from regime prisons, and access to humanitarian aid.

See Syria Daily, Jan 9: UN Envoy Meets Regime Officials in Damascus