By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)
In the mountainous Qalamoun region, the Syrian Army retook the town of Deir Attiyeh which they lost to Opposition forces a week ago.
Battles were fierce, with reports of 5 doctors and 4 nurses killed at the hospital, before members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) withdrew from the area.
There are also reports that Hezbollah have suffered heavy casualties in the fight by the regime to completely control the Qalamoun area and to secure the highway between Damascus and Lebanon.
Hezbollah, Suffering Casualties, on Parade in Lebanon
Activists say that in Lebanon, at least 19 funerals have been held in the last 10 days for Hezbollah combatants, though this may only be the tip of the iceberg. Unconfirmed reports say that as many as 250 Hezbollah fighters may have been killed this month alone.
The most high profile Hezbollah fighter killed this week is Majd Fouad Hajj Hasan, the nephew of Lebanon’s caretaker Agriculture Minister and Hezbollah MP, Hussein Hajj Hasan. Majd Hasan was buried in Beirut yesterday, Thursday, after he was killed near Deir Attiyeh.
Currently, Friday morning, the Syrian Army is pounding Opposition positions in the Qalamoun town of Nabek, which, if it falls, leaves only Yabroud and a few villages not in Government hands.
Due east of central Damascus on the edge of Eastern Ghouta, Opposition forces have confirmed that they have taken the town of Otaiba and just to the north-east of Otaiba, in the desert, the Jihadist group, the Al-Nusra Front (ANF), claims that it has shot down a jet fighter and a helicopter near the Dumeir airbase.
This Government helicopter crew over Eastern Ghouta were luckier, an Opposition ground to air missile missing it by inches:
Fighting continues around the al-Marej area of Eastern Ghouta with reports that 11 Opposition fighters were killed in battles with Hezbollah, Assad’s National Defence Force (NDF) and the Shia Abu Fadel al-A’bass Battalion from Iraq.
Opposition sources also claim that the Assad regime has carried out another gas attack, this time on the Damascus suburb of Jobar, though no deaths have so far been reported, HERE:
Inside central Damascus city itself, an Opposition mortar attack on the Russian embassy compound is reported to have killed 1 Syrian but no Russian nationals. Also, this footage released on Tuesday, shows the destruction of two T-52 tanks, somewhere in the Damascus suburbs, HERE:
In Hama province yesterday, Opposition fighters took over a checkpoint near Souran and captured many weapons, and in Deraa province they destroyed this tank emplacement near Inkhil, HERE:
Nearby Inkhil at Nawa, Opposition forces are well equipped with this Croatian multiple missile launcher, HERE:
VICIOUS SCUD MISSILE ATTACK ON RAQQAH CAUSES NUMEROUS DEATHS BUT MISSES JIHADIST HQ:
In Raqqah city a Scud missile launched from an Army base near Damascus, struck a central area of the Opposition held city, causing widespread devastation. Reports vary from 6 killed and 30 injured, to 40 killed and 200 injured.
Scud Missile Attack Hits Civilians in Raqqah
The nearby ISIL headquarters was unscathed, but you can see the aftermath of the massive destruction in the local market area, HERE:
On the political front, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has said it will attend “peace talks” in Geneva but is still insisting that the formation of any transitional government does not include Assad and his cronies.
At the same time the Assad regime says it will attend, “without pre-conditions” but that Assad’s position as ruler is not negotiable. Talks are due to start on January 22nd.
Colonel Selim Idriss, commander of the Opposition Supreme Military Council, says he will not attend the talks but continue the fight against the Assad regime instead.
In an interview in with Dubai TV he has also said that all those fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are Muslims but that the draconian punishments imposed by Jihadist groups in Islam’s name are “alien.”
While welcoming moderate Islamic groups as “brothers” in the fight against Assad, Idriss went on to say, “Those who rose in revolt (against Assad) are known, and they are Muslims just as we are all Muslim. As such, all the factions are Muslim and are proud of Islam.”
But “there are those who come from abroad, and we know nothing about them… who want to impose on us customs… labelling people either Muslim or atheist, heretic and worthy of beheading. This is foreign to us, and to the moderation… of the Islam that we want to hold on to”.
USA COMES UP WITH PLAN TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS AT SEA, WHILE AS RESULT OF WAR 70,000 SYRIAN FAMILIES ARE NOW WITHOUT FATHERS:
After a number of European countries declined to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons on their own soil, the United States has come up with a plan to destroy the chemicals at sea using its auxiliary vessel MV Cape Ray.
The process planned for on board MV Cape Ray will dilute the potency of the chemicals using sea water and produce an estimated 7.7m litres of effluent which will be packed into 4,000 containers. The difficulty remaining is how to get the chemicals to the MV Cape Ray in the first place.
None of this directly helps the millions of refugees struggling through the winter, 1.1 million of whom, now outside Syria, are children.
The BBC has been following an aid group from the UK who every few months raise enough money to buy ambulances and then drive them all the way to Aleppo packed with urgently needed medical supplies, HERE:
A new 60 page UN report has highlighted the position of Syria’s refugee children, many of whom remain traumatised by things they have seen and experienced. Over 70,000 Syrian refugee families now live without fathers and over 3,700 refugee children are either unaccompanied by or separated from both parents.
This BBC video highlights the problem, HERE:
Tens of thousands of Syria’s children have gone 2 or more years without education and many new ones are being born without birth certificates or registration and may remain stateless as a result.
This report and video from the Telegraph features a volunteer school started in a formerly derelict building by Syrians in Lebanon for children who have lost 1 or more of their parents, HERE:
All of these Children Have Lost 1 or More Parents