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Syria Direct: News Update 5-14-2014

Regime forces seal off al-Waer as it remains under fire […]

14 May 2014

Regime forces seal off al-Waer as it remains under fire

Syrian government forces continued to pound the rebel-held district of al-Waer in Homs province on Wednesday while refusing to allow civilians out of the area, according to an al-Waer based pro-opposition activist.

“Checkpoints around al-Waer are forbidding women and children from leaving the district,” Hassan Abu a-Zain, a spokesman for Homs’s Youth Coalition of the Revolution told Syria Direct Wednesday. Al-Waer—Homs’s most populated district, and the last rebel holdout in the city—remains under attack by “heavy machine gun fire from the upper stories of buildings,” said Abu a-Zain, adding that “mortar shells have fallen on the district after being launched from the War College and loyalist neighborhoods.”

Pro-Assad Syrian daily Al-Watan reported Wednesday that the Syrian army had killed dozens of “terrorists” in northern Homs province. Hundreds of opposition fighters in Old Homs surrendered themselves last week in exchange for safe passage to rebel-held territory north of the city.

Brahimi resigns as Jarba meets with Obama

Damascus criticized Lakhdar Brahimi’s work during his 21-month tenure as the United Nations’ Arab League Special Envoy to Syria on Wednesday, one day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced that he had accepted Brahimi’s official resignation, effective May 31.

“Many mistakes were committed during Brahimi’s term, including his interference in Syria’s internal affairs, for a mediator does not interfere in the sovereign affairs of any state,” said Syria’s UN Envoy Bashar al-Jaafari in comments published by state-run SANA news agency. For his part, Secretary Ban lamented the lack of progress during Brahimi’s tenure as “a failure of all of us” in the international community.

Embedded image permalinkUN-Arab League Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi announced his official resignation Tuesday. Photo courtesy of UN Geneva.

Meanwhile, Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad al-Jarba met Tuesday with US President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. In a Wednesday press release, the Coalition called the meeting “encouraging and productive” and “a milestone for a new era in relations between the US and the Syrian people.” The Coalition emphasized its commitment to “opposing extremism” while also stressing the need to “empower the Syrian people to defend themselves.”

Jordanian military arrests 10 suspected jihadists

Jordanian border guards arrested 10 suspected Islamist militants attempting to cross from Jordan into Syria Tuesday, The Jordan Times reported, as tensions continue to grow between hardline Islamists and more moderate factions in southern Syria. The jihadist fighters, among them seven Jordanians and three Saudis, were en route to join Jabhat a-Nusra, according to “Islamist sources” cited by the Jordanian daily. A-Nusra’s kidnapping of FSA general Ahmed a-Na’meh earlier this month has sparked tensions between the al-Qaeda offshoot and FSA brigades.

The arrests come a week after Jordanian border guards exchanged gunfire with 10 Jordanian jihadists attempting to return to Jordan from Syria after having fought with Jabhat a-Nusra, which has gained increasing prominence in Syria’s southern front in recent months. Roughly 700 to 1,000 Jordanian jihadists are suspected of currently fighting in the Syrian war, the majority of which have joined Jabhat a-Nusra.

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