* Violent clashes continued Wednesday throughout the southern province of Daraa, where opposition forces have launched a broad offensive aimed at controlling border points with Jordan. The rebel offensive coincides with regime shelling of several villages, which have resulted in the death of 17 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
* The government’s siege of Moadamiyet al-Sham in Western Ghouta has killed 200 civilians in the last 280 days, the Syrian National Coalition said in a statement Tuesday. According to the SNC, “hospitals in the city are closed, so that all 2,400 people in the city are under the care of a single doctor. All of the schools in the city are also closed.”
* Political and media adviser to the Syrian President Buthaina al-Shaaban said on Tuesday that Bashar al-Assad’s recent media tour represents an attempt “to correct the image [of the president], and transfer [a message] to citizens in the nations of the world about the reality of the situation in Syria,” according to state news agency SANA. In the past two weeks, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has granted scores of interviews and television appearances.
*Seventeen Western nations agreed to open their doors to Syrian refugees who wish to emigrate, according to an announcement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday. The Commission appealed for “urgent international action” to alleviate the economic and social burden currently carried by neighboring nations, according to the website Syria News.
* Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cast doubt on the likelihood of Geneva II talks convening next month, telling a Moscow news conference on Tuesday that Russia had been “relying on our Western partners who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiating table, and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded.” The Russian news agency Novosti quoted Lavrov as saying that finding “rational members” of the opposition to participate in Geneva II is a Russian priority.
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