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Syria Direct: News Update 2-23-2014

* A car bomb exploded Sunday morning near the Orient […]

23 February 2014

* A car bomb exploded Sunday morning near the Orient Hospital in the town of Atma, in Idlib province along Syria’s northern border with Turkey, according to Ahmed al-Ahmed, a citizen journalist who spoke with Syria Direct Sunday morning from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing near the town. Al-Ahmed said that the car bomb had killed 10 and wounded more than 50 others as of 11 am Sunday, in addition to destroying several clinics belonging to the hospital. The explosion is the second in three days targeting areas along the Turkish-Syrian border that host large numbers of Syrian refugees, with another car bomb having killed and injured dozens Thursday near the Bab a-Salama border crossing. Opposition forces have accused the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham of responsibility for both bombings.

* The United Nations Security Council passed a 15-0 decision on Saturday aiming to boost humanitarian access inside Syria. Resolution 2139 demands “that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners” to all areas inside Syria, and includes language condemning “increased terrorist attacks” by al-Qaeda related groups. The resolution threatens “further steps” in the event of non-implementation, but makes no mention of Chapter Seven of the UN charter, which would authorize the use of force to implement the decision. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power praised the decision as going “further than we have been able to get in three years,” but warned that “a resolution is just words, it is implementation that matters and that’s what we’re starting measuring right now.”

UN security council The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on humanitarian access in Syria Saturday. Photo courtesy of @XinhuanetNews.

* A total of 14 armed opposition factions in the southern province of Daraa announced the formation of a new coalition entitled the Seif Allah al-Maslul brigade Saturday, which will join the Free Syrian Army-aligned Syrian Revolutionaries Front, reported the pro-opposition news website Zaman al-Wasl. The move is the latest in a series of military realignments in southern Syria, which include the union earlier of 49 FSA-affiliated groups under the banner of the “Southern Front,” and which follow the FSA’s announcement earlier this month of a major offensive entitled the “Geneva of Houran,” referring to the Houran area in southern Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that heavy fighting and intensified regime bombardment of Daraa continued Sunday morning.

* Pro-opposition news site All4Syria on Sunday accused the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) of massacring women and children in the town of Tel Barak, which lies on the road between the northern cities of al-Hasakah and al-Qamishli. The accusations come a day after the YPG seized control of the town from ISIS following a night of intense fighting, and follows more than a month and a half of violence between armed groups across northern Syria.

* Jabhat a-Nusra’s Lebanese branch claimed responsibility Saturday for a suicide car bombing against a Lebanese army checkpoint in the northern Beqaa Valley that killed three, including one Lebanese officer and one soldier. Jabhat a-Nusra issued a statement on Twitter referring to “a series of attacks to take vengeance,” including photos of Syrian children with amputated limbs and the heading “the crimes of the Party of Iran [Hezbollah] in Syria.” The attack is the second of its kind this month in Hermel, where Hezbollah enjoys strong support.

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