Rastan residents blame rebel leadership for bread shortage
Residents of the rebel held city of Rastan in the northern Homs countryside protested Wednesday night to blame traders and local rebel leadership for a three-month long bread shortage, according to video footage of the protests posted on YouTube.
“If the regime’s bombs or the cold don’t kill us, these blood traders will—they monopolize the flour and trade in people’s daily food,” Yusuf Shahab, a civilian in Rastan, told Syria Direct Thursday.
“Protestors blamed the Rastan local council, the [exiled] National Coalition, opposition armed forces and the transitional government” for the bread shortage, reported pro-opposition SmartNews.
A lack of bread is not unique to Rastan, Shibli Aiyub, an official with a humanitarian aid organization in the city, told Syria Direct Thursday.
“All of the [Homs] northern countryside is suffering from a bread cutoff,” due in large part to the regime’s security cordon across the area that has prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid coming south from Turkey.
Regime conscripts young men fleeing encircled Ghouta
The Syrian regime has forcibly conscripted an unspecified number of young men from families who had recently been allowed to exit Damascus’s encircled, rebel-held East Ghouta suburbs, reported the Douma LCC Wednesday.
The families leaving East Ghouta were reportedly “brought to shelters in the Qudsiya neighborhood, then [former rebel] fighters were separated out…and subjected to a 15-day training course so they could be conscripted afterwards in [regime militia] Jaish al-Wifa,” wrote the LCC.
Ilyas al-Hajiri, a member of the Douma LCC, confirmed the veracity of the news to Syria Direct Thursday.
Those who left encircled East Ghouta did so under a regime program that began on December 25 allowing for families to exit the rebel-held suburbs after meeting a number of conditions, reported the pro-opposition media collective East Damascus Group Wednesday.
Those conditions include placing families with young men in shelters until the regime can run background checks on them and study their “security files.”
Following that process, they are to be allowed to move freely within Damascus.
Nusra destroys Islamic scholar’s grave
Jabhat a-Nusra reportedly destroyed the grave of a revered Islamic scholar in Daraa province Wednesday, setting off fears that the group may be bringing its puritanical tactics south, said the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Imam Nawawi, a 13th century Syrian scholar, is known for his rulings on Islamic jurisprudence and studies in hadith [sayings of the prophet Mohammed]. He is also often associated with Sufism, an esoteric strand of Islam that many hardline Islamists reject.
Jabhat a-Nusra has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Recently, Nusra has cooperated with local rebel groups in Daraa against the regime, a sharp contrast to its actions in Idlib, where it expelled Western-backed rebels in November.
A video released on Wednesday by the Nawa Media Office, a local pro-opposition media campaign, appears to show the grave, located in the town of Nawa just outside of Daraa city, that appears to have been blown up with explosives.
Official state news SANA accused Nusra of the destruction.
“The terrorists Jabhat a-Nusra desecrated the grave of Imam Nawawi,” the agency reported.
Nusra reportedly desecrates an Islamic scholar’s grave in Daraa. Photo courtesy of Enab Baladi.
Deir e-Zor citizens take on IS
Unknown gunmen reportedly burned the car of Islamic State “religious police” in the IS-controlled city of Mayadin on Wednesday, the latest in a series of assaults against IS in Deir e-Zor province, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The fate of the policemen, known as al-Hesbah, who were in the car is not known.
The attack comes on the heels of the reported killing of an al-Hesbah leader–an Egyptian national–as well as two attempted murders of al-Hesbah members earlier this week, the pro-opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor Under Fire told Syria Direct Wednesday.
IS has had a firm grip over most of the oil-rich province bordering Iraq since it seized control of it in July.
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