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Syria Direct: News Update 01-21-2014

* United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday […]

21 January 2014

* United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday night rescinded Iran’s invitation to the Geneva II peace talks, set to commence Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland, citing Iran’s refusal to endorse the Geneva I Communiqué, which calls for the establishment of a transitional government based on mutual consent. “The Secretary General is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment,” said a UN spokesperson, noting Ban’s continued hope that Tehran would “join the global consensus behind the Geneva Communiqué.”

* The Syrian National Council, one of the most prominent blocs within the opposition Syrian National Coalition, announced Tuesday that it would withdraw from the Coalition following the opposition body’s decision to participate in the Geneva II peace talks. “The decision to participate in Geneva II undermines the Syrian National Coalition’s founding document,” the Council said in a statement.

* Fighting continued Monday night between the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) and opposition groups seeking to expel them from northern Syria, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting clashes centered around Ittihad University, near the town of Manbij in Aleppo province. Meanwhile, pro-opposition Syrian daily Zaman al-Wasl reported that the Daoud Brigade, one of the strongest groups fighting in northern Syria, had announced its defection from ISIS and declared itself an independent entity.

* A car bombing rocked the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiya in south Beirut Tuesday morning, with Lebanese daily an-Nahar reporting five dead and dozens injured. A security source told an-Nahar that the bombing—the second of its type to hit Dahiya this month—was a suicide attack.beirut_2.jpg

A bomb blast rocked the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiya in south Beirut Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Twitter user @AbdallahSaker.

* A report compiled by former UN war crimes prosecutors has found evidence that the Syrian government has systematically tortured and executed some 11,000 detainees since the start of the conflict. The report examines some 50,000 digital images that were smuggled out of Syria by a regime defector. The images showed male corpses photographed in a military hospital, each with a serial number and many showing signs of torture.

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