Power cuts in Damascus, government blames “terrorists”
Opposition activists reported power outages in most neighborhoods in the Syrian capital of Damascus beginning Monday night and continuing into Tuesday. “Our electricity was cut from 11 last night until 10 this morning, and when the electricity is on it’s unreliable,” Hamza, a university student in Damascus, told Syria Direct Tuesday. The power cuts come as Syria’s Electricity Minister Ammad Khamees told a meeting of the Syrian Parliament Monday that 80 of Syria’s original 400 electricity plants had been destroyed by “a terrorist group.” Khamees added that the Electricity Ministry has recently succeeded in limiting power cuts to between two and four hours in most Syrian provinces, with the exception of Aleppo and al-Hasakah, where power lines and facilities have faced repeated attacks.
Lebanese army launches major operation in Tripoli
Lebanese armed forces deployed Tuesday throughout the northern city of Tripoli, setting in motion a new security plan intended to restore order to the mixed Sunni-Alawite city, which throughout Syria’s civil war has been plagued by recurring violence between pro- and anti-Assad residents. Military and security forces set up checkpoints throughout the city and cut off internet services Tuesday morning as they began conducting raids to arrest dozens of wanted individuals, according to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. At least 30 were killed in Tripoli clashes during a week of intense violence last month. Prominent Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt welcomed the measures, declaring that “the state along with the military and security forces should be firm, now more than ever, to put a decisive end to this bizarre situation, which is claiming the lives of dozens of innocent citizens for nothing.”
A photo making the rounds on facebook this morning, with the following caption: “The long-awaited weapons have arrived from Saudi Arabia to the Syrian opposition.”
Syrian government claims Tower 45 in northern Latakia
Troops from the Syrian army and National Defense Forces claimed Monday to have pushed “terrorist” groups from the strategic Tower 45 base in Latakia province near the Syrian-Turkish border Monday, according to pro-government news channel Sama. Pro-opposition Latakia News Network countered that rebels remain in control of the hill, the highest point in northern Latakia province, adding that rebels from Ansar a-Sham had clashed with government troops in the village of al-Meshirfa, south of Tower 45. Rebels also claimed Monday to have forced the closure of Latakia’s Bassel al-Assad International Airport after bombarding it with Grad rockets. On March 20th, rebels announced a campaign to strike the Syrian government in Latakia province, the historic homeland of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect, and quickly advanced on Tower 45 and in the towns of Kasab and a-Samara. The ongoing battle drew widespread international attention when American celebrity Kim Kardashian started a “#SaveKessab” hasthag on Twitter Monday, citing fears for the town’s Armenian-Syrian population, many of whom have been displaced. “Please let’s not let history repeat itself!!!!!” Kardashian exhorted, alluding to the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Regime claims gains in Aleppo, rebels dismiss
Pro-Assad Syrian daily al-Watan claimed Monday that the Syrian army had made inroads in rebel-held southeastern Aleppo after several days of intense fighting, moving toward the Old City, which al-Watan referred to as a base for “terrorists.” An Aleppo-based opposition activist dismissed the claims, telling Syria Direct Tuesday that “the regime is trying to advance in Aleppo and is publishing news of imaginary advances to raise the shabiha’s morale.” Meanwhile, pro-opposition Halab News reported Monday that rebels had destroyed a government tank near Sabaa al-Bahrat Square in the Old City, and that violent clashes were ongoing in the industrial neighborhood of Sheikh Najar in northern Aleppo.
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