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Syria Direct: News Update 01-20-2014


January 20, 2014

NewsUpdateJan2014* The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) on Monday threatened to pull out of the Geneva II talks after Iran was invited to attend the conference by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The SNC declared on Twitter it would withdraw from Geneva II, which is to begin on Wednesday, “unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation.” The United States has asked the invitation to be withdrawn unless Iran accepts the principles set out at the Geneva I conference held in June 2012, which declared the need for an interim transitional government in Syria.

* The Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) published a series of four announcements Sunday imposing restrictions on residents in areas that it controls in A-Raqqa province, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The announcements demand that women wear the niqab and forbid, among other things, smoking, music, “raising one’s voice in the streets,” and women walking alone after dark. The announcements come after several weeks of clashes between ISIS and other opposition factions in northern Syria, with ISIS claiming full control of the A-Raqqa City, the provincial capital, last week.

Islamic Law ISIS Raqqa

 An ISIS statement Sunday imposed restrictions on residents in a-Raqqa province . Photo courtesy of Twitter user @ZaidBenjamin.

* Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, released an audio statement Sunday in which he urged rebel groups to cease their campaign to evict ISIS from northern Syria. “Today, the (Islamic) State is reaching out to you to stop fighting us, to focus on fighting the Nusairiyah,” he says in the message, using a pejorative term that refers to President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority. Al-Baghdadi assured that he will cease fighting the other rebel battalions if they did the same.

* The Free Syrian Army (FSA) rejected a truce in Aleppo that was proposed by Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi during his last visit to Moscow. Hamid al-Quradi, head of the FSA Joint Command’s media office, explained that the conditions of the truce are impossible. “Is there any truce in the world that would lead you to leave the lands which you control for the sake of a ceasefire?” he said. Currently opposition forces control most of Aleppo city, while regime forces occasionally target the city with barrel bombs, reported Aks a-Sir.

* A humanitarian aid shipment arrived at Damascus International Airport on Sunday morning “from Russians to Syrians”, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). The shipment contains “food and baby milk, which was collected by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in Russia for Syrians to help them face the crisis which is caused by terrorist attacks and economic punishments,” reported SANA.

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