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Syria Direct: News Update 2-3-2014

* Syrian air force helicopters continued to drop barrel bombs […]

3 February 2014

* Syrian air force helicopters continued to drop barrel bombs on Aleppo Monday, where 11 Syrians died in the eastern suburb of Hanano, pro-opposition Smart News reported. On Sunday, 36 barrel bombs fell in the eastern Aleppo neighborhoods of Bab al-Neirab, Karam al-Meysir, Bab al-Tareq and elsewhere. An estimated 81 people were killed, including 27 injured, Aleppo citizen journalist Ahmed Ahmed told Syria Direct.

Barrel bombs decimated neighborhoods in Aleppo

Barrel bombs decimated neighborhoods in Aleppo Monday. Photo courtesy of Haleb Today.

On the ground, clashes continued Monday for a fourth day in the Karam al-Turab neighborhood near Aleppo International Airport, as Free Syrian Army-affiliated battalions and the Islamic Front’s Liwa a-Tawhid attempt to repel a regime advance from the al-Nairab Military Airport. On Sunday, the Syrian army supported by National Defense Forces seized control of the village of Ashrafiyeh, south of the town of al-Safira in the Aleppo suburbs.

“The regime is trying to progress in the biggest Syrian cities before the resumption of the Geneva II discussions,” the Aleppo media activist added.

* Free Syrian Army-affiliated rebel groups clashed with government forces in the neighborhood of Tariq al-Sid in Daraa Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, one day after the Free Syrian Army’s joint operations room in Daraa province announced the beginning of “The Geneva of Houran” battle there. Meanwhile, Syrian forces “eliminated terrorists attempting to attack checkpoints in Daraa,” pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported.

* The Syrian National Coalition will return for the second round of Geneva II negotiations in Switzerland on February 10th, SNC president Ahmed Jarba confirmed Sunday. Jarba’s announcement came in response to statements from the Assad delegation that the SNC might not return to the conference, whose first round concluded on Thursday, January 30th with no concrete agreements between the parties.

* An American plane carrying lethal weapons arrived at Jordan’s Mafraq airport “to deliver [weapons] to armed terrorist groups” in Syria, official Syrian government news agency SANA reported Monday, one week after the U.S. Congress approved the delivery of weapons to “moderate” rebels. SANA cited pro-Syrian government Jordanian media in its report, though none of Jordan’s larger media had reported the arrival of American arms.

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