News in Images

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    NEIGHBORS: Jabhat a-Nusra’s capture of the Quneitra border crossing between Syria and Israel last Wednesday led to an unlikely pairing: flags from the Free Syrian Army, which allied with Nusra for the battle, and Israel, side by side.

    In response to the escalated violence, Israel deployed soldiers from its Northern Command army in armored cars to the border Tuesday. On Monday, Israel declared Quneitra a closed military zone after mortar shells landed in its territory on the Golan Heights.

    The Syrian government, meanwhile, has launched an aggressive campaign to regain control of the border crossing using a combination of heavy bombing and artillery fire to pressure the rebels.

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    GROUND ZERO: A Nusra suicide bomber says farewell to his comrade before carrying out a successful car bombing in a small town west of Selimiya, on the eastern outskirts of Homs province on Sunday night

    Selimiya–an Ismaili-majority, regime-controlled city–is located on the highway from Homs to A-Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. While IS hasn’t directly attacked Selimiya, there have been reports of skirmishes between IS and the government on the city’s outskirts.

    Selmiya has also served as the main route connecting Hama to Homs since the rebels cut off the M5 highway, which previously was the primary supply line between the two provincial capitals.

  • SLICE OF LIFE: Each week, the Violations Documentation Center issues a “Martyrs Report” roughly documenting casualties around Syria. Last week, Aleppo and the Damascus suburbs were the most deadly fronts, with the majority of the 316 Syrians killed from those areas.

    As fighting rages across the country and battles with the Islamic State grab the headlines, hundreds of Syrian citizens are killed by shooting (33.5 percent - the top cause of death), followed by air strikes that include barrel bombs (27 percent) and thirdly by torture in regime detention centers (19.5 percent).

  • SYRIAN PoWS: The Islamic State (IS) took over Tabqa airport Sunday, the last remaining regime military base in A-Raqqa province and reportedly captured more than 20 Syrian army soldiers, including three majors.

    The picture above, widely circulated on social media Wednesday, was posted by an IS-affiliated account and reportedly shows some of the soldiers under the caption “Alawites from Tabqa Islamic State hands.”

    IS detained the solders as they attempted to flee from Tabqa airport, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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    DAILY BREAD: Residents of A-Raqqa city line up to receive free bread from volunteers belonging to the Relief Bakery, a charity kitchen that relies on donations to produce and distribute 2,000 meals a day.

    Earlier this month, a “bread crisis” swept the city. Most bakeries closed their doors and huge crowds massed around those that remained open, according to pro-opposition Facebook page A-Raqqa 24.

    On August 22, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent jointly warned that scarcity of rain during the winter, combined with unusually hot temperatures during the summer had heavily impacted agricultural harvests,  damaging food security in A-Raqqa, Aleppo, Hasaka and Deir e-Zor.

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    PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE: Rebel forces including Jabhat a-Nusra took control over the eastern district of Mherda city in Hama province Sunday as at least one brigade, the reportedly 120-strong al-Bitar brigade pictured above, shifted its alliance over to a-Nusra. 

    Mherda is used as a base by the regime to bomb surrounding FSA-held territory and as a central point along regime supply lines running from the coast to Hama city and to surrounding pro-regime villages.

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    REMEMBERING AUGUST 21: On August 21, 2013, a chemical weapons attack killed an estimated 1,400 Syrians in the Damascus suburbs of East Ghouta, sparking outrage from the international community as both the regime and rebels accused each other of being behind the attacks.

    One year later, while much of the world has turned its attention to the chaos in Iraq and the rise of the Islamic State, Syrians on Thursday marked the anniversary by holding vigils and posting online memorials.

    In this picture, circulated widely on social media on Thursday, a man in the Damascus suburb of Moadimiyat a-Sham commemorates the one-year anniversary by arranging a collage of photographs of the victims. The town, then under rebel control, has since held to a truce with the regime that returned it to government control.

  • IS WANTS YOU: While the Islamic State (IS) sparked outrage in the international community Wednesday after releasing a video purportedly showing the execution of American journalist James Foley in retaliation for airstrikes in Iraq, a new report finds the group’s appeal in Syria higher than ever.

    IS has reportedly recruited an estimated 6,300 fighters in Raqqa and Aleppo since July 2014, the highest number since they established their headquarters in A-Raqqa in late 2013, according to a report released Wednesday by monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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    EYE OF THE STORM: Water is a major concern for residents of the rebel-held Damascus suburbs of East Ghouta as the area comes under heavy fire following the regime’s capture of Mleiha last week.

    “There is no electricity to operate the pumps to supply houses with water,” Hassan Taqi al-Din, a Ghouta-based correspondent for the pro-opposition news agency Sham Network for Syria.

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    GROUND ZERO: Opposition forces caught between the regime and the rapidly advancing Islamic State (IS) in northern Aleppo appear to be realizing that they may be driven out from the region that has served as their stronghold throughout the war.

    “Great efforts are being made now in order to activate the [military] operations rooms between the rebel factions,” Abdul Karim Abu Firas, a media spokesperson for the Islamic Front, told Syria Direct Monday, “in addition to a high level of coordination between the Islamic Front, Noor al-Din Zanki, Haraka Hazam and other opposition groups in northern Aleppo.”



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News Roundup

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Syria Direct: News Update 9-2-14

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Syria Direct: News Update 9-1-14

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