* A Red Crescent spokesman told Syria Direct on Thursday that Syrians being evacuated from the so-called “starving suburb” of Moadamiyet a-Sham “are being transferred to new shelters in Kudsaya.” While not commenting on opposition accusations that evacuees are being taken into regime custody, the spokesman said “our health teams are visiting with the [evacuees]. There are some health problems are we are offering help as we can,” he said, two days after civilians were permitted by the regime to leave the besieged, starving Damascus suburb after more than 300 days of a total blockade. On Wednesday a spokesman for the pro-opposition Moadimiyet Media Center, told Syria Direct: “News has reached us that [evacuee men] are being forced into serving in the Syrian army and joining Assad’s thugs, the shabiha.”
* The UN partner agency Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Thursday that the Syrian government completed the “functional destruction” of chemical materials and facilities, meeting a critical UN deadline. On Monday, the OPCW announced 2 of the 23 facilities could not be inspected due to their location in contested areas.
* Syria’s oil production has dropped by more than 90 percent in the past two years, reported the pro-regime Syria News website on Wednesday. In 2011, Syria produced 378,000 barrels of oil per day. In 2013, Syria is producing an average of 31,500 barrels daily as a result of the civil war and international sanctions.
Destroyed Homs oil refinery
* President Bashar al-Assad imposed new pre-conditions for his government’s participation in the Geneva II process in Damascus on Wednesday, reported Hezbollah’s television channel Al-Manar. Al-Assad told UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stop foreign aid for “terrorists” in Syria during a meeting Brahami. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States are considered to be the primary financial backers of both the political and the armed opposition.
Like Syria Direct on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.