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Syria Direct: News Roundup 4-17-2014

Stalemate bogs down Old Homs campaign The Syrian government “accelerated […]

17 April 2014

Stalemate bogs down Old Homs campaign

The Syrian government “accelerated and expanded the battle for Old Homs” but did not advance into the 13 rebel-held neighborhoods Thursday, as tank shelling and sniper fire concentrated on the neighborhoods of Jourat a-Shiah and Wadi al-Siah, activist Abu al-Waleed told Syria Direct. “Rebels remain steadfast” inside Old Homs, Abu al-Waleed added, where Tuesday the National Defense Force militias and Syrian government intensified efforts to capture the 13 neighborhoods, encircled by government forces for 674 days. Pro-government media reported no new advance Thursday after previously claiming government troops had seized 10 buildings in Jourat a-Shiah. Since early February, when a United Nations-negotiated ceasefire oversaw the evacuation of 1,400 citizens from the starving neighborhoods, dozens of rebels have surrendered themselves in ongoing negotiations with the Syrian government.

Jordanian warplanes destroy armored vehicles illegally crossing border

Jordanian Royal Air Force warplanes destroyed four military vehicles “covered in mud” attempting to cross Jordan’s northern border from Syria Wednesday, Jordanian newspaper a-Dustour reported. The Syrian army and opposition both denied responsibility for the vehicles.  “No Syrian Arab Army vehicles or tanks were moving toward the Jordanian border,” official Syrian news agency SANA reported, “and therefore the vehicles that were targeted by the Jordanian air force were not those of the Syrian Arab Army.” Meanwhile member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition Khalid Nasser blamed the Syrian government for what he called “an obvious attempt to export the crisis to neighboring countries.” In recent months, the Jordanian government has repeatedly announced it has repelled attempts from Syrian armed groups to smuggle weapons across the nation’s 370-kilometer long northern border with Syria.

BlWnieeCcAAXsXXJordanian air force destroyed four military vehicles attempting to cross into Jordan from Syria Wednesday. Photo courtesy of @Syricide.

Fresh claims of chlorine attacks in Harasta, Kafr Zeita

Pro-opposition al-Aan TV claimed Thursday that the Syrian government had targeted the Hama town of Kafr Zeita with chlorine gas for the fifth consecutive day, one day after opposition activists published graphic video purporting to show the victims of a poison gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Harasta, roughly 10 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital. Pro-opposition Smart News reported Wednesday that an attack in Harasta had killed one Free Syrian Army fighter and injured an additional 15 residents, citing doctors who stated that the victims showed signs of having ingested chlorine gas, which causes severe damage to the upper and lower respiratory tracts. The new reports follow an announcement Monday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the Syrian government had shipped 65 percent of its chemical stockpiles out of the country.

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