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Syria Direct: News Update 4-29-2014

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

29 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 announce electricity to return to Aleppo

Electricity will return to Aleppo Tuesday for the first time in more than 10 days since rebels seized a transfer station in the northwestern Aleppo town of Haritan, a coalition of rebel groups announced Monday.  “Given the suffering of our people in regime-held areas after having been deprived of electricity for 10 days, their suffering in procuring water and the regime’s lack of sufficient interest in securing their needs, we have decided to restore electricity to the city of Aleppo,” announced the Ahl a-Sham Operations room, led by the Islamic Front, al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat a-Nusra and Jaish al-Mujahideen.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Ministry of Electricity also announced that electricity would return after repairs to tension lines into the city, blaming the power cuts on “terrorist groups” who had attacked maintenance workers repairing the lines into Aleppo.

Humanitarian groups have expressed deep concern over “the sharp escalation of violence” in Aleppo as electricity cuts have barred access to clean water in the city. The Syrian air force dropped 39 barrel bombs on rebel-held neighborhoods of the city overnight Monday, media activist Ahmad al-Ahmad told Syria Direct Tuesday.

aleppo_electricity_3.jpgAleppo has been without electricity for 10 days. Photo courtesy of Souriatna.

Syrian army reclaims turf around Kessab

The Syrian government reports having seized control of strategic hillsides surrounding the rebel-held town of Kessab in Syria’s northeastern Latakia province along the country’s border with Turkey on Monday, according to pro-Assad Syrian daily al-Watan. The advance comes two days after the Syrian government announced the recapture of a-Samara, four kilometers west of al-Kessab on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, which had been under rebel control since March 25th. It was the only slice of coastline the rebels have been able to capture during the course of the war.

“Commandos from the Syrian navy carried out a landing on the beach at a-Samra,” reported pro-Assad Iranian network al-Alim. Pro-opposition Latakia News Network denied the reports, saying rebels had “repelled a shabiha attempt to infiltrate a-Samara.”

In mid-March, a coalition of rebel groups seized Kessab, Samara and a regime military base known as Observatory 45 after announcing the “Anfal” campaign to strike at regime-dominated Latakia province, the historic homeland of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect.

Int’l lawyers urge UN to act ‘without consent’ from Damascus 

The International Bar Association published an open letter to the United Nations Monday urging humanitarian agencies to defy restrictions placed upon them by the Syrian government and move into rebel-held territory even “without consent” from Damascus.

The letter, signed by 37 prominent international lawyers, argues that human rights violations by pro- and anti-Assad forces are causing massive suffering inside Syria: “This appalling situation has been compounded by an overly cautious interpretation of international humanitarian law, which has held UN agencies back from delivering humanitarian aid across borders.” 

The letter goes on to outline the legal argument for humanitarian agencies staging operations without government consent, concluding that “there is no legal barrier to the UN directly undertaking cross-border humanitarian operations and supporting NGOs to undertake them as well.” The US Agency for International Development estimates that 9.3 million Syrians are currently in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, among them 6.5 internally displaced persons.

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