Syria Direct: News update 11-13-2013

NewsUpdateNov2013* Moadimiyet Media Center spokesman Qusai Zakarya told Syria Direct Wednesday that the besieged southeastern Damascus suburb is being shelled by the regime on an ongoing basis. Zakarya said 8,000 civilians remain in Moadimiyet with little access to food or heating. Some 4,000 residents were evacuated last month, with Zakarya repeating charges by the Violations Documentation Center last week that Assad’s forces have arrested 500 of the recently evacuated civilians.475221

Downtown Moadamiyet this week.

* Government forces gained control of the town of Hejira in southern Damascus Wednesday after weeks of heavy shelling on rebel positions near the capital, reports the official news agency SANA. Last week, government troops advanced into the towns of Al-Sebina and Ghazal along the opposition’s main supply route in southern Damascus.

* Clashes continued Wednesday at the Brigade 80 military base near Aleppo International Airport between regime forces and opposition fighters from the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham and Jabhat a-Nusra, reports Syrian state agency SANA. The Syrian army has been advancing toward Aleppo from its alternate southern road to Hama. On Tuesday, SANA reported the Syrian army had consolidated control over the Brigade 80 military base.

* In a statement Tuesday evening from the majority Kurdish city of Qamishli, the Kurdish group PYD declared a so-called autonomous region of “West Kurdistan” inside northern Syria. The group envisions setting up three administrative zones led by an interim civilian administration. Kurdish militias have recently made gains against Islamist insurgent group Islamic State in Iraq and Sham in northeastern Syria, seizing a strategic border crossing with Iraq on October 27th. Four months ago, Syrian Kurdish leaders announced they would create a transitional administration.

* The Joint Leadership of the Free Syrian Army said Tuesday it will arrange to send a military delegation to Moscow for “direct negotiations” to end the crisis, predicting that the Geneva II conference will fail. “It is necessary to maintain the security and military institutions and restructure within the Free Syrian Army and dissidents [of the Assad regime] in order to prevent Syria’s fall into chaos,” said Fahed al-Masri, a spokesman for the Joint Leadership, adding that the FSA believes that negotiations with Russia could provide legitimacy for opposition leadership in the event of Assad’s fall from power.

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