Syria Direct: News Update 10-16-14

Truce talks over, regime moves to take Al-Waer

The Syrian army is reportedly renewing efforts to capture the last opposition-controlled part of Homs city, slamming Al-Waer with four missiles that killed at least nine people and injured 45 others Wednesday, reported pro-opposition news outlets Smart News Agency and Ajal Suriya and Iraq.

Truce talks that have been on and off for months in the encircled suburb appear now to be off. The regime may be reacting to lingering anger amongst its supporters over a double suicide bombing at a school in a government-controlled district of Homs earlier this month.

“Regime forces are trying to storm Waer in seven places,” an activist working for the pro-opposition news agency Al-Waer Media Center told Syria Direct Thursday. The activist, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the regime had opened battlefronts in the north, south, west and east of the neighborhood.

The regime changed its head of security in Homs earlier this week.

Meanwhile, FSA-affiliated rebels north of Homs city responded to the regime attack on Al-Waer by hitting regime-controlled parts of the city with three missiles Wednesday, reported pro-regime news agency Akrama News Network.

Anti-regime protest in Alawite Tartus

Approximately a dozen protestors in the Alawite-majority city of Tartus, a support base for President Bashar al-Assad, took to the streets Wednesday demanding the fall of the regime, the first such protest in Tartus since the start of the revolution, reported pro-opposition news network All4Syria.

The participants, reportedly all of whom were Alawites, were arrested and “led off in a barbaric fashion to the military intelligence branch in the al-Hurra area,” Banan al-Hassan, a member of the Latakia branch of the civil society group Syrian Revolution General Commission, wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday.

“No one knows anything about them or their fate.”

The protest follows at least two media campaigns launched by Alawites in August against Bashar al-Assad and the ruling Baath party: The #Weinun (where are they) and #Speakup campaigns, as well as protests against the regime in Druze majority, pro-regime Suwayda province earlier this month, all of which condemned the mounting death toll among youth serving in the Syrian army.

TartusAlawiteProcess The first Alawite protest in Tartus against Assad. Photo courtesy of @KDPinfo.

Syrian government raises Damascus bus fares

The Syrian government increased the price of bus transportation in the greater Damascus area, reported pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan Wednesday, amidst what appears to be an energy crisis throughout Syria.

The price rose from 15 Syrian lira [$0.09] to 20 lira [$0.12] for rides less than 10 km, and from 20 lira to 25 lira [$0.15] for rides over 10 km. These prices only apply to areas under regime control.

The possibility of an increase was first reported by state-news SANA, Tuesday, and was later confirmed by Al-Watan.

The price hike occurs after the government announced a raise in the price of diesel from 60 lira [$0.37] to 80 lira [$0.49], and the price of gas from 120 lira [$0.74] to 140 lira [$0.86] two weeks ago, according to SANA.

The country is also suffering from an electricity shortage: 32 out of 54 electric turbines have been taken offline since the beginning of the war due to lack of fuel.

Syrian government rejects buffer zone

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates expressed its “absolute refusal” of a Turkish proposal to establish a no-fly buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border in an official statement released Wednesday, reported official Syrian news agency SANA.

The ministry said that it “will consult with friends concerning all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty” in case a buffer zone is imposed, considering such a move a “barefaced violation...of the principles of international law.”

Turkish parliament passed a decree October 2 allowing the Turkish military to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq, a move intended in part to facilitate Turkish cooperation with the US-led international coalition against extremist rebel outfits in Syria, according to London-based Saudi daily a-Sharq al-Awsat.

Turkey stipulated the establishment of a no-fly buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border as a precondition to joining the alliance.

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