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Syria Direct: News Update 4-30-2014

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

30 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.

Jordan’s Azraq camp opens, capacity for 51,000 refugees

Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp officially opens Wednesday outside of the eastern Jordanian desert city of Azraq, 100 kilometers east of Amman and 90 kilometers south of the northern border with Syria. The camp, with a ready capacity for 51,000 Syrian refugees and future capacity for 130,00, is already home to 430 Syrians. The UNHCR, which administers the camp along with Zaatari Camp, says it has built on lessons learned in Zaatari, which opened in July 2012 with space for 20,000 refugees but quickly became home to more than 120,000, making it Jordan’s fourth largest population center. Jordan hosts 594,258 Syrian refugees, according to UNHCR statistics, 28,000 of whom have arrived in Jordan in 2014.

Syrian Refugee camp AzraqThe Jordanian government officially opened the Azraq Camp for Syrian refugees on Wednesday. Courtesy of @UnitedNationsJO.

Car bombs kill dozens in government-held Homs

Between 40 and 60 people were killed when two car bombs exploded in the regime-held majority-Alawite neighborhood of a-Zahra in Homs, pro-opposition activist Ahmed Ali Yasseen told Syria Direct Tuesday. The twin bombings occurred on the crowded al-Abbasiyeh Street, with the second car detonating as rescue teams pulled the injured from the rubble left by the first blast. Pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported that 40 were killed and 116 injured in the “terrorist explosion.” The car bombings were the third in as many weeks in regime-held Homs. Rebels have clung to the 13 encircled neighborhoods in Old Homs in addition to the al-Waer district, home to thousands of displaced Syrians, and a swath of northern Homs province.

ISIS crucifies two, executes another five in a-Raqqa

The Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) published graphic photographs late Tuesday night of two individuals crucified by the group in Syria’s northern a-Raqqa province, stating that an additional five were also executed. The photos show the two men strapped to crosses in a public square, surrounded by children, draped by signs that read “This man fought against Muslims here.” ISIS accused the seven men of targeting an ISIS soldier with an improvised explosive device thrown from a motorcycle last week, stating that one Muslim civilian lost his leg and a child was blinded. The statement came one day after ISIS announced that its youngest fighter, a 13-year-old boy, fighter had been killed in Damascus.

OPCW to investigate allegations of chlorine use

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Tuesday that it would undertake, with agreement from the Syrian government, a fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of chlorine gas attacks in several locations in Outer Damascus, Hama and Idlib in the month of April. The Syrian government, which has agreed to accept this mission, has undertaken to provide security in areas under its control,” reads the OPCW’s Tuesday press release. “The mission will carry out its work in the most challenging circumstances.” The announcement comes five days after the OPCW praised Damascus for facilitating the removal of 92.5 percent of the country’s chemical stockpiles.  American and French officials last week cited “indications” and “credible evidence” that chlorine had been used in the Hama town of Kafr Zeita on April 11. The use of chlorine gas as a weapon is illegal under international law, but the substance was not specified on the list of chemical agents to be surrendered by the Syrian government under the terms of a September 2013 agreement.

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