* Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba sharply criticized both Arab and Western states during a speech at the Arab League summit in Kuwait Tuesday, telling Arab leaders that their refusal to grant the opposition Syria’s Arab League seat “sends a clear message to Assad that he can kill and that the seat will wait for him to resolve his war.” Jarba added that “the West failed to provide us with the needed weapons.” His Tuesday address followed a meeting Monday in which he told UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that there will be no political solution to the Syrian crisis until opposition forces achieve military progress to even out the balance of power on the ground. The armed opposition cannot make the necessary progress, Jarba said, until the international community equips them with anti-aircraft weapons. Brahimi, for his part, affirmed that he does not intend to call for a third round of peace talks in Geneva, noting that Damascus’s apparent intention to hold elections this year “conflicts with the premise of the negotiations, which will thus be futile.”

* Rebel forces seized full control of the town of a-Samara on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Latakia province Tuesday, claiming their first piece of Syria’s coast. Rebels also captured the nearby radio transmission towers at “45 Hill,” according to pro-opposition Jebel al-Turkmen Media Center. The seizure of a-Samara, which lies along the Syrian border with Turkey, marks a fourth consecutive day of advances for opposition forces near the Latakia town of Kasab, 48 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Latakia. Pro-regime Latakia News Network reported violent clashes continuing on the “Kasab axis,” as well as the “sound of huge explosions” in the area amidst continuing air raids from the Syrian air force. Should rebels consolidate control of a-Samara, it would be the only rebel-held point on Syria’s western Mediterranean coast, the ancestral homeland of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-25_at_3.39.11_PM.pngRebel fighters captured radio towers on "45 Hill" along Syria's Mediterranean coast Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of the Islamic Front.

* Fighting continued Monday in northern Hama province as Syrian government forces seek to oust rebels from their positions along the supply route linking Hama with Idlib province to the north. Pro-regime news channel Sama reported Monday that government forces were pursuing “terrorists” around the Aasi river in northern Hama, confiscating rifles, missiles and ammunition. Meanwhile, opposition activist Mamoun abu Zeid told Syria Direct Tuesday that rebel fighters attacked a government convoy transporting reinforcements to the town of Mourik—which lies some 30 kilometers north of Hama city and which has been under rebel control since February—forcing the regime forces to withdraw.

* Pro-opposition Halab News reported Monday that regime forces had struck the city of Aleppo with 27 barrel bombs, three cluster bombs and two missiles, adding that rebels had advanced toward into a regime-held, Alawite majority neighborhood of Jama’ia a-Zahra in western Aleppo. Meanwhile, pro-regime news channel Sama claimed that the Syrian army had killed and injured many “terrorists” in various parts of Aleppo, including around the historic “Palace of Justice” courthouse that rebels destroyed last week.

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