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Syria Direct: News Update 4-13-2014

In our News Roundup, we summarize the day’s most important […]

13 April 2014

In our News Roundup, we summarize the day’s most important events from local sources inside Syria. Subscribe here to have it delivered to your inbox.

Rebels claim ‘unprecedented gains’ in Aleppo

Pro-opposition Halab News Network reported Sunday that rebel fighters had achieved “unprecedented gains” in the regime-controlled western Aleppo neighborhood of a-Rashideen as part of the I’tassam campaign targeting government military installations in southwestern Aleppo. “We seized heavy and light weapons that we had not expected to find,” said Yussuf Farouh, a military leader in the rebels’ Ahl a-Sham Joint Operations Room, which announced the I’tassam campaign last week, in comments to Halab News. For its part, pro-regime daily al-Watan downplayed rebel gains, citing a “military source” who claimed that government forces had dealt “crushing blows” to rebel fighters around western Aleppo’s Air Force Intelligence base, which has been the site of intense fighting in recent days. Aleppo has emerged as Syria’s deadliest city over three years of civil war, with rebel fighters controlling the eastern half of the city and regime forces retaining control of the western neighborhoods. 

Rebel leader killed in battle for al-Mleiha 

The military leader of the Islamic Front’s Ahrar a-Sham in East Ghouta, Abu Khaled Heidera, was killed Saturday in clashes with the Syrian government in the East Ghouta Damascus suburb of al-Mleiha, according to comments Sunday from a Mleiha-based rebel spokesman who calls himself Abu Odai. Pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported that Syrian forces had killed Heidera as they advanced near the Tamico Checkpoint, an old medical facility north of al-Mleiha, which lies roughly 10 kilometers east of Damascus. Abu Odai denied claims of a government advance in the town, despite heavy bombardment and clashes on multiple fronts since April 2. Rebel groups coordinating to stave off a government advance in the town include Free Syrian Army-affiliated Feiliq a-Sham, the Islamic Front, Jabhat a-Nusra and the Islamic Union for Soldiers of the Levant.

Screen_Shot_2014-04-13_at_2.03.46_PM.pngOpposition activists released video Friday purporting to show a poison gas attack in the
Hama town of Kafr Zeita.

Government, rebels trade accusations of chemical attack

Syrian government and rebel sources traded blame Saturday after an alleged chemical weapons attack on Kafr Zeita, a rebel-controlled town in Hama province, killed at least one and injured dozens Friday. “Jabhat a-Nusra executed an attack with liquid chlorine on Kafr Zeita in Hama province, killing two and injuring hundreds,” Syrian state television reported Saturday. Meanwhile, pro-opposition Zaman al-Wasl cited doctors claiming that the Syrian government had launched the poison gasses, as the western-backed Syrian National Coalition called on the United Nations to investigate the incident. On Sunday, a pro-rebel media center uploaded a video of the rocket that had allegedly delivered the gasses, after videos uploaded Friday depicted a yellow cloud of smoke rising after a strike on the town, as well as a frantic scene in a hospital where child victims struggled to breathe. 

French IT company accused of supplying Damascus with surveillance gear

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) announced Friday that the Prosecutor of the Paris Court had agreed to launch an investigation into the alleged involvement of French companies—chief among them French IT company Qosmos—in selling surveillance equipment to the Syrian government. Qosmos specializes in the production of Deep Packet Inspection technology, which the FIDH claims “enables intelligence services to perfect their means of repression against dissident voices, notably by intercepting live electronic communications with the help of key-words.”

“It is essential that French justice brings light to the possible implication of the Qosmos company in providing the Syrian regime with surveillance material intended to spy on the Syrian population,” added FIDH Honorary President Patrick Baudouin.

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