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Syria Direct: News Update 4-24-2014

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

24 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.

Two MPs announce intent to run for Syrian presidency

State-run media reported Thursday that parliamentarian Hassan Abd a-Nouri has submitted his official request for candidacy in Syria’s June presidential elections, making him the second entrant to come forward in as many days after leftist politician Maher al-Hafiz Hajjar announced his intention to run on Wednesday. Assad himself has yet to officially announce his candidacy, but is widely expected to organize a victory in line with the last two elections that resulted in seven-year terms with over 97 percent of the vote. Hajjar, 43, is a long-time leader of Syria’s Communist Party, while a-Nouri, 64, is a western-educated former minister for development. The upcoming elections have been widely disparaged by the country’s opposition and international observers, with the Syrian National Council warning Wednesday that the government’s exercise would deal “a fatal blow to a political solution.”

Bl--5xIIUAAoPeG.jpgAn image circulating on opposition sites derides the democratic value of Syria’s upcoming elections.

Rebels push for Daraa military base

Opposition sources claimed Thursday morning that rebel groups had gained partial control over the Tel al-Jabia military base in western Daraa province, with Sham News Network correspondent Omar al-Hariri reporting on Facebook that rebels had destroyed a regime tank and other heavy weaponry. The news comes as rebel groups including Jabhat a-Nusra, the Islamic Front and Free Syrian Army factions announced the start of a campaign to capture Tel al-Jabia, which serves as a base for the government’s 61st Brigade and 74th Infantry Brigade. SANA reported that the Syrian army had mounted operations targeting “terrorist groups” in several towns in northern Daraa. Tel al-Jabia is located adjacent to the Daraa town of Nawa, less than 100 km southwest of the Syrian capital and 15 km east of Quneitra province, where rebels have been on the offensive for much of the past month.

Syria ‘categorically denies’ chlorine gas use

Deputy Foreign Minister Feisal Meqdad denied government forces had used chlorine gas in a meeting Wednesday with Sigird Kaag, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission in Syria. ‘The Syrian government categorically denies the American, Israeli and French allegations that Syrian forces used any toxic substances in any area of Syria,” Meqdad told Kaag, according to official government news agency SANA. Since Sunday, France, the United States and Israel have cited “credible evidence” and “indications” that the Syrian government has used chlorine gas in attacks on rebel-held areas in the past month. 

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