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Syria Direct News Update: 10-06-2013

*German news magazine Der Spiegel News magazine published an interview […]

6 October 2013

NewsUpdateOct2013*German news magazine Der Spiegel News magazine published an interview with the Syrian president Sunday in which Assad swore off negotiations with armed groups unless if they put their weapons down. Assad added that he would nominate himself for another term in 2014 should  “this be the desire of the people of Syria.”

*Regime airstrikes hit rebel-held positions on Jebel al Arbaeen outside of Idlib Sunday, days after pro-regime television channel Sama reported a regime victory there Wednesday. The strategic mountain overlooks Idlib as well as the national highway linking Latakia and Aleppo and the Turkish border. A media activist tells Syria Direct that neither side has gained ground since Wednesday, as the Syrian Air Force strikes the rebel-held positions near the highroad between regime-dominated Latakia and opposition-dominated Aleppo.

*A media activist from Khan al-Asl denies reports of government victory in his suburban Aleppo town. “Those are lies. Khan al-Asl is still under opposition control,” the activist told Syria Direct. His statement contradicts a widely-reported victory for the Syrian Army in the area.

*A November start for the Geneva II is less likely than ever. A communiqué issued Saturday by Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army reiterated that no political dialogue would be held until the government agreed to a transition plan environing al-Assad’s departure. 

*Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad ruled out talks with groups linked to the FSA, posing rhetorical questions to a Tishreen reporter Sunday.  “ If the basic condition is for there to be a Syrian solution and a political dialogue…if the dialogue is with weapons, why are we going to Geneva?,” the president asked the reporter .

*The Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Qadri Jamil, called Saturday on Syrians, loyal to Assad and in the opposition, armed and unarmed, to “stand against informal government militias and slaughterers,” pointing to the need for the “accountability of the security forces.” This is the first time that a Syrian government official has criticized the work of security services in the country.

*In a statement bearing the name “Final Warning” issued in Paris Saturday, the Free Syrian Army demanded that all foreign armed forces quit Syria immediately.

 “We call on all Arab and foreign fighters – whatever their attitudes, goals or reasons to leave Syrian ground immediately,” reads the statement aimed both at Hezbollah and takfiri fighters.

*The Syrian government hiked the official price for a liter of gasoline to 100 SYP from its previous level of 80 SYP.  “Petroleum products are available in different provinces, and the state is still supporting them,” a source in the state-owned fuel told Tishreen Sunday. The source conceded that the fuel prices have risen several times this year and are accompanied by a sharp increase in food as well.

*14 people were killed and many wounded by a rocket falling on the Wa’er district in Homs Saturday. The Assad regime’s rocket destroyed three buildings and completely interrupted the power supply to the neighborhood, according to the pro-opposition Facebook page, Shahid min Qalb al Hadeth.

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Destruction in Homs after a regime air strike Saturday. Photo courtesy of Camera Homsy.

*Egyptian authorities deported 64 Syrians to Damascus on Friday for violation of the conditions of residence, among them 35 Syrians of Palestinian origin who illegally attempted to immigrate to Italy by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Amnesty International reports hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested in Egypt, including two minors between the ages of 15 and 16 as they attempted to immigrate to Europe. They are now at risk of deportation.

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