* Snowstorm Alexa blanketed much of the region Thursday, from Damascus to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to Amman, Jordan. Snow began falling yesterday in the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal, where refugees braved freezing temperatures and inches of snow from their canvas tents. The Syrian government declared an official holiday, as most major interstates in southern Syria are impassable.
Snow fell Wednesday on the Syrian refugee camp in Arsal, Lebanon. Photo courtesy of al-Hadath News.
* Free Syrian Army General Salim Idris, the Western-backed FSA’s top commander in Syria, fled Syria Wednesday for Qatar after the Islamic Front seized the Bab al-Howa border crossing with Turkey, according to Hezbollah channel Al Manar. The Free Syrian Army has been weakened by the emergence of Islamist rebel groups in Syria.
* The British government joined the United States Wednesday in suspending “non-lethal aid” to rebels in northern Syria, one week after rebels from the Islamic Front seized control of the Bab al-Howa border crossing between Turkey and Syria. Turkey has closed the border crossing, which had been under Free Syrian Army control for 18 months.
* Iraqi Shi’ite militia Liwa Thu al-Fikar clashed with the government’s National Defense Forces, which it is fighting alongside in the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta and in Nabek, reported the pro-opposition Local Coordination Committee Thursday. “They’re fighting about who takes the goods they steal when they attack a town,” said Qusai Zakarya, a spokesman for the Moadamiyet a-Sham Media Center in the besieged Ghouta town. A total of 22 people were killed in the Nabek clashes, the LCC reported.