By Peter Clifford                   ©              (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2/)



The power of the Jihadists appears to be on rise after reports said that following 3 days of fighting in Aleppo with other Opposition groups, almost 50 fighters have been left dead.

The battles  were between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) linked Ababil Brigade. At least 30 members of Ababil are reported killed and another 14 from ISIL, with the death toll still rising.


Opposition Prepare to Launch A rocket in Aleppo Province

The clashes were over control of the Intharat, Bustan al-Basha and Masaken Hanano neighbourhoods, where the FSA battalion reportedly also did not have a good reputation. The fighting ended with ISIL having supremacy over those areas and in charge of all the checkpoints.

ISIL also put out a statement claiming that 90 members of the Kurdish militia YPG had been killed in clashes with the Jihadist group in the Atmeh area in Idlib province.

(EDITOR: True or not, the claims and internecine warfare take energy and resources away from the main fight against Assad and play directly into his “terrorist” propaganda, further weakening moral and practical support, for undisciplined and disunited Opposition groups, from Western powers.

In the more conventional battle between the Opposition and Assad’s forces in Aleppo, heavy fighting is reported this morning from around the Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman Mosque, which is in the central part of the city bordering the western half still controlled by the regime.

Opposition fighters also successfully targeted a observation CCTV camera below a window at a Government Research Centre in Aleppo, HERE: 

While at Safira, which the Government wish to regain to open supply routes between Aleppo and Hama, activists report that as many as 40 barrel bombs have been dropped on the town in 4 days, causing serious material damage and the residents to flee.


Double Suicide Attack on Al-Assad Media Centre

In Damascus, a double suicide car bomb explosion occurred in Umayyad Square outside the State TV headquarters and the Al-Assad media centre on Sunday evening, causing fires and extensive damage, though no casualty figures have been reported at the time of writing.

This recorded interview with someone broadcasting live from the media centre shows the explosions taking place in the background behind him.  He decided to abandon ship after the 2nd one, HERE: 

There is also a reported power outage this morning, Monday, in Damascus and several provinces, resulting from a power station “malfunction”, though where and what is causing that is not clear. “Power supply is down in several provinces in the centre, south and coastal regions of the country as a result of a malfunction at a power plant,” SANA, the state media quoted electricity minister Imad Khamis as saying.

In the south-west Damascus suburbs of Moadamiyeh and Dariya, although the Government would not allow humanitarian aid in, they did allow the International Red Cross to bring out 1500 civilians, mainly women and children, over the weekend, who were then allocated to shelters in other parts of the city.

The 2 areas are mainly Opposition controlled but have been under Government bombardment for months, with reports of people starving to death. Moadamiyeh was also subject to a chemical gas attack on August 16th. The Red Cross was not allowed to enter the suburbs to bring out or treat the wounded still there. There is video footage of the general evacuation, HERE:

Elsewhere is Damascus province, Opposition fighters seized a stock of 9K11 Malyutka wire guided anti tank missiles from the Brigade 78 site in the Qatana area, HERE: 

Also the attack by Opposition fighters on the pro-Assad Shia brigade headquarters of the Abu Al Fadl Al Abbas battalion in the  Sayyeda Zainab district (reported earlier, scroll down below) is said to have killed at least 37 pro-Government fighters from abroad, including militia from Lebanon, Sudan, Iran and Iraq.

There is also an unconfirmed report that the Opposition hit another cargo plane on the runaway at Damascus International Airport on Friday, setting it on fire.


Car Bomb Explodes in Darkush

In Idlib province this morning, a car bomb explosion at the town of Darkush is reported to have killed at least 22 and injured many more (some reports say 60 dead and 90 wounded).  The death toll is expected to rise as many of the injured are critically wounded.

The explosion took place in the market area of Darkush which is under Opposition control and lies on the Orontes river just a few kilometres from the border with Turkey. A brief video of the scene of devastation is HERE:


Also in Idlib province on Sunday, 6 International Red Cross workers and a local Red Cross volunteer were abducted along with their vehicles in the Saraqeb area while travelling back to Damascus after delivering humanitarian aid items.

Jihadists in the area are thought to be the culprits once again, though no claims of responsibility or demands for their release have been made. Latest reports on Monday afternoon say that 3 have now been released but the others are still missing.

Heavy fighting is reported in the province around  Ma’arat Al-Numan with the Opposition destroying Assad troops and weapons and pounding Government positions with heavy artillery, HERE: 

In Deraa city, towards Jordan, 11 people (4 women, 3 children, including a baby, and 4 men) were killed in a regime shell bombardment of a market area during a prolonged battle with attacking Opposition forces. Fighting is also reported around the TB Centre and the Zubaida school in the city.

An unconfirmed report from activist sources additionally says another Government jet was hit by Opposition anti-aircraft fire in Deraa province, the 2nd this month, but was able to make an emergency landing.

In Raqqah city to the north-east of Syria loud explosions were reported yesterday in the vicinity of Base 17, the last remaining Government stronghold near the Opposition controlled regional capital. And in Hama, similar loud explosions and gunfire have been heard in the last 24 hours in the Tareeq Halab and Qusour neighbourhoods.


Al Waar neighbourhood of Homs after Recent Regime Shelling

In Homs province, following the attack on the oil refinery which destroyed most of the storage tanks (scroll down, see below), the Opposition took out 2 of the refinery’s pipelines along the Homs-Tadmur highway over the weekend, which deliver oil to the north and east, thereby virtually reducing the refinery’s oil producing capacity to nil. This recent brief video shows the scale of destruction in Homs, HERE: 

In Deir El-Zour clashes between the Opposition and the Government side are reported this morning, Monday, across the city, especially in the districts of Arrasafah, Arrushdiyah and Asin’aa.

Once again, Jihadists have not helped matters by destroying the Shia shrine of Sheikh Eissa Abdelqader al-Rifaiy in the Opposition-held town of Busaira, 45 km (30 miles) east of Deir El-Zour.

In addition to all the suffering described above, former torture victims of Assad’s prisons and detention centres have been describing their appalling treatment.  Al Jazeera has a video report, here:


In Lebanon, they are struggling to cope with the huge influx of Syrian refugees and it is starting to impact economically on their relatively small economy, forcing them to put restrictions on who can and cannot enter the country.  Al Jazeera has another video report on the latest situation, HERE:

Russia and the US in their diplomatic games are pushing for a Geneva 2 peace conference but one of the main Opposition groups, the Syrian National Council led by George Sabra, which is part of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), has said it will withdraw from the SNC if they agree to take part in a peace conference prior to the fall of the Assad regime.


Meanwhile it is reported that President Assad, in an interview with the Al-Akhbar newspaper, and commenting on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “jokingly” said, “This prize should have been [given] to me.”

Claiming that “Syria has stopped producing chemical weapons since 1997, and has replaced them with traditional weapons, which are the determining factor in the battlefield,” Assad added however, that handing over the chemical weapons was a “moral and political loss” for his regime.

Talking about his regime’s alliance with Russia he said that the latter is not defending Syria, but it is rather defending itself. “With what they are doing, the Russians are not defending Syria, its people, its regime or its president; they are defending themselves. Syria’s stability and security is protected by politics more than it is by a military arsenal,” he said.


“I Had to Sacrifice Syria to Save the Regime”

Lastly, at the same time as Assad was making his “joke”, it was announced that David Crane,the founding chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international war crimes tribunal that convicted Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, has led a new project to draft a 30-page blueprint for a Syrian Extraordinary Tribunal to Prosecute Atrocity Crimes in the Syrian conflict.

“Usually, the international community just sits back and waits and when a political solution is done and the killing stops, everybody scrambles to try figure out what to do,” Crane told the news agency AFP in an interview. “I thought ‘Well let’s be ready and have this on the shelf’.”

Working with the Syrian opposition, non-governmental organisations and staff at the University of Syracuse where he is now a professor, Crane’s team has mapped out the atrocities committed in Syria since the war began in March 2011. The catalogue of horror already stretches into three volumes and is growing.

Draft indictments have even been prepared against President Assad and his “top 10 henchmen,” Crane says and also against others including some opposition commanders, as well as foreign fighters.

After 2 years work, there was a strong preference for any court to be placed inside Syria, giving maximum access to victims and their families. You can read more, HERE:

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