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Syria Direct: News Update 10-24-2013

October 24, 2013 * Electricity has begun to return to […]

24 October 2013

NewsUpdateOct2013October 24, 2013

* Electricity has begun to return to parts of Damascus and will fully return to the capital in 48 hours, said Syrian Minister of Electricity Imad Khamis on Thursday.  A wide-ranging blackout blanketed southern Syria and Damascus and stretched into neighborhoods of Aleppo and Latakia on Wednesday after armed opposition forces struck a gas line near Damascus International Airport. 

damascus blackout 2

The sun sets over a dark Damascus Wednesday. Photo courtesy of SANA.

* Regime forces released an additional 49 detained Syrian women on Wednesday, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The release comes one day after 13 women were freed as part of a wide-ranging prisoner exchange negotiated through Qatari and Palestinian mediators. On Saturday, the Free Syrian Army released nine detained Lebanese pilgrims who had been held for more than a year in the northern village of Azaz, on Syria’s border with Turkey. Lebanese forces released two kidnapped Turkish pilots on the same day. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the Assad regime currently is detaining 4,000 Syrians, 128 of whom are expected to be released in the prisoner exchange.

* The Syrian Criminal Court overturned a 20-year sentence for well-known Syrian activist Tal al-Malouhi Wednesday, ordering her immediate release from prison after she served just under five years. The Syrian regime arrested al-Malouhi, who had called for an acceleration of democratic reforms in 2009, accusing her of espionage.

* The Syriac Church revealed negotiations are underway to free two bishops kidnapped in the city of Aleppo six months ago. “Bishops John Abraham and Paul Yazigi were victims of terrorism about six months ago and the door has been opened to negotiations with the kidnappers,” said the church’s Patriarch Wednesday, reports the pro-opposition website Kulna Shurika. 

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