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Syria Direct: News Update 4-22-2014

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

22 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 lose gains in Old Homs 

Rebels withdrew from recently captured Jeb al-Jandali neighborhood east of Old Homs Tuesday due to “the lack of enough rebels to cover the space,” a pro-opposition activist told Syria Direct Tuesday. Rebels had captured Jeb al-Jandali Saturday in their first advance from Old Homs since Syrian government forces encircled the 13 neighborhoods in June 2012.

Meanwhile, the Syrian National Coalition said that rebels had also advanced in the Homs suburb of al-Ghasibiyeh, 18 kilometers north of Old Homs and two kilometers from the Syrian army stronghold at the College of Military Engineering in the town of al-Masharfeh, killing local National Defense Force leader Yamin a-Nejem. Last week, the Syrian government intensified shelling on the 13 rebel-held neighborhoods of Old Homs, encircled by government forces since June 2012. Earlier this year, rebels in Homs province announced a campaign, titled Qadimoun, intended to break the siege on the encircled neighborhoods. To this point, al-Masharfeh is the farthest they have advanced since June 2012.

Syria opens door to presidential nominations, voting to begin June 3 

Tuesday marks the start of a ten-day nominations period for Syria’s upcoming elections according to an announcement Monday by the Speaker of the Syrian Parliament Mohammad Jihad a-Laham, who added that voting will begin on June 3 for Syrians inside the country and on May 28 in Syrian embassies for citizens outside the country. “The holding of presidential elections on their assigned date according to the constitution and law is but one of many indications of coming victory,” a-Laham said, according to pro-Assad Syrian daily al-Watan. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric condemned the notion of Syria’s elections Monday, stating that elections in the current climate “will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution,” while the Friends of Syria group has warned that the elections will be a “parody of democracy.”

 U.S. has “indications” of chlorine use in Syria

The United States has “indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical, probably chlorine, in Syria this month in the opposition-dominated village of Kafr Zeita,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. “We are examining allegations that the government was responsible,” Psaki added, calling for a further investigation into the reported incident. The gas can cause acute and severe respiratory damage. The statements coincided with fresh opposition reports of chlorine gas-use in the Idlib town of Telmins Monday. “Barrel bombs carrying chlorine gas” injured more than 100 in Telmins, the pro-opposition Idlib News Network reported, as a YouTube video depicted frantic citizens coughing in a nearby hospital.

Both the Syrian government and opposition have acknowledged chlorine gas was used in the Hama province town of Kafr Zeita on April 11; the Syrian government has blamed al-Qaeda-linked rebel group Jabhat a-Nusra, while pro-opposition Syrians have blamed the Syrian government.

Screen_Shot_2014-04-22_at_2.26.23_PM.pngA Syrian man was treated after what opposition media claimed was a chlorine gas attack on the Idlib province town of Telmins on Monday.

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