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Syria Direct: News Update 5-22-2014

Regime closes on Aleppo Central Prison Syrian government forces reached […]

22 May 2014

Regime closes on Aleppo Central Prison

Syrian government forces reached the outskirts of Aleppo Central Prison on Thursday, with conflicting reports emerging on whether the army has actually entered the regime-held prison, which since early 2013 has been encircled by rebel groups.

“Regime forces and loyalist fighters were able to enter Aleppo Central Prison early this morning,” reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Thursday. Pro-opposition Halab News denied the reports, but acknowledged Wednesday that the Syrian army had advanced to within striking distance of the prison, claiming the town of Hailan, “the last point separating [the regime] from Aleppo Central Prison.”

Opposition activists echoed the denial that the prison itself had fallen. “They absolutely haven’t entered the prison,” said Ahmed al-Ahmed, an independent activist in Aleppo who claims to be in contact with sources in and around the prison. “Some are saying the army has reached the prison, others say they haven’t,” Mohammad al-Hadi, an Aleppo-based correspondent with the pro-opposition Sham News Network told Syria Direct.

Since early last year, the government facility has been encircled by a coalition of rebel groups headed by the Islamic Front, Jabhat a-Nusra and Jaish al-Mujahideen. The rebels are seeking to liberate hundreds of government prisoners and consolidate control over an alternate supply road from the city of Aleppo into northern Aleppo province.

Government forces have reached the outskirts of rebel-encircled Aleppo Central Prison.
Photo courtesy of

Kurds reportedly turn off water in Hasaka

Kurdish fighters reportedly cut the water supply to the entire northeastern Syrian city of al-Hasaka on Thursday, according to the independent al-Hasaka News Center (HNC), as fighting continued for a second consecutive day between Kurdish militias and the pro-Assad National Defense Forces.

Kurdish militias “stopped the flow of water to all of al-Hasaka city,” reported the HNC on its Facebook page Thursday, without explaining how it happened. The news comes after Kurdish fighters claimed control of the provincial capital’s water management center during clashes with NDF forces on Tuesday. 

The news coincided with reports from Kurdish media Thursday that an improvised explosive device had targeted a school in the neighborhood of a-Salihiya. The fighting, which began Tuesday in east al-Hasaka neighborhood, spread Wednesday to residential areas north and south of the city, according to Attiyeh al-Attiyeh, a pro-Assad journalist based in al-Hasaka.

Fighting between the Kurds and pro-Assad forces has been rare despite the Kurds’ growing military profile, as both sides battle ISIS for control of Syria’s northeast.

Coalition wants ICC prosecutions

The Syrian National Coalition announced Wednesday that it had penned a letter to the United Nations endorsing a Security Council resolution, signed by 58 countries and slated for a vote Thursday, to refer Syria’s civil war to the International Criminal Court. “The Syrian people demand justice, and they look to the Security Council to help fulfill it,” reads the letter signed by Dr. Najib Ghadbian, the Coalition’s Special Representative to the United Nations.

Moscow has vowed to veto the French-drafted resolution, with Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin calling the vote “simply a publicity stunt which will have a detrimental effect, unfortunately, on our joint efforts in trying to resolve politically the crisis in Syria.”

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