* Fighting continued throughout the weekend in Syria’s Qalamoun mountain range, where four surface-to-surface missiles struck the rebel-held town of Nabek, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Sham News Network reports that the Nusra Front detonated a car bomb in front of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles building in Qalamoun rebels claim the building was occupied by government forces and Hezbollah fighters. Meanwhile, the Syrian National Coalition formed an emergency committee to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, and specifically the massive refugee influx produced by the fighting in Qalamoun, which runs along Syria’s western border.
* The United States has agreed to provide support for neutralizing a portion of Syria’s most dangerous chemical materials aboard a specially-modified US Naval vessel, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced Saturday. The OPCW added that it is in the process of evaluating 35 private companies that have expressed interest in destroying Syria’s remaining chemical stockpiles. The “priority chemicals” are due to be removed from Syria by December 31.
The US has agreed to take responsibility for destroying Syria’s most dangerous chemicals.
* Five of the main rebel formations fighting in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern and Western Ghouta declared their unification under the banner of the Islamic Union for Syrian Soldiers. The five groups, which include the al-Habib al-Mustafa Brigades and the Dara’a al-Aasima Brigade, comprise 53 smaller, predominantly Islamist factions fighting in the Damascus suburbs. Saturday‘s announcement comes just over a week after seven of the most prominent Islamist groups fighting throughout Syria declared their unification under the umbrella of the Islamic Front, and deals yet another blow to battlefield prominence of the western-backed Free Syrian Army.
* Syrian and Iranian officials met in Tehran Saturday morning for official talks headed by Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi and Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahingiri, reported Syria’s official SANA news agency. SANA stated that the talks were intended to “strengthen cooperation, integration, and coordination” between Iran and Syria, and Jahingiri reaffirmed Iran’s resolve to provide all forms of support to the Syrian government.
* The Raqqa-based Muawiya Brigades announced that they had killed Amid Ghiyath Marhaj, leader of the Syrian Army’s 93rd Brigade, during mortar strikes against the government officers’barracks in the Ain Issa area of Raqqa, according to the Raqqa Youth Coordination Committee’s Facebook page.
Like Syria Direct on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.