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Syria Direct: News Update 6-18-2014

Rebels fight hard for Mleiha Opposition fighters reportedly killed 15 […]

18 June 2014

Rebels fight hard for Mleiha

Opposition fighters reportedly killed 15 regime soldiers in the outskirts of Mleiha on Wednesday after the government launched an attack on the town east of Damascus, according to local pro-opposition activists.

Meanwhile, the official state news agency SANA declared a “victory” for the government after clashes in Mleiha, the gateway into East Ghouta, and reported that the regime captured 15 “terrorists” in the southwest outskirts of the village. One of the captured fighters allegedly was a Jordanian citizen.

Located on a hill six kilometers east of the capital and 15 kilometers from the Damascus International Airport, Mleiha was the site of a prolonged government offensive in April this year. For the government, the capture of the town would prevent rebel shelling on the road from Damascus to the airport and put regime troops in position to advance in the opposition-held East Ghouta region.

mleiha_2.jpgRegime troops launch an attack on Mleiha Tuesday. Photo courtesy of al-Hadath News.

Syria to miss chemical weapons deadline

Syria will miss the June 30 deadline to destroy its chemical weapons program, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Tuesday that, noting no progress in transferring the remaining eight percent of chemical weapons out of the country.

The OPCW first acknowledged that Syria would probably not meet the deadline earlier this month, on June 5. The investigative body continues to investigate allegations that the Syrian army violated the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention by shelling rebel-held villages with chlorine gas in March and April of this year.

A preliminary OPCW report “lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals – most likely pulmonary irritating agents, such as chlorine – have been used in Syria,” the organization reported.  

Encircled rebels cling to Deir e-Zor district

Rebels held off Syrian troops in clashes on the western outskirts of the rebel-held central Deir e-Zor neighborhood of Huweiqa overnight Tuesday, as regime forces pounded the neighborhood with artillery fire, pro-opposition news site El Dorar reported. Rebel groups led by al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat a-Nusra killed two regime troops in the clashes, according to pro-opposition social media.

Syrian regime troops and militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) have encircled rebels inside Deir e-Zor’s central neighborhoods since ISIS took the a-Siyasiya Bridge over the city’s Euphrates River on June 3.

The bridge, less than a kilometer east of the destroyed Deir e-Zor suspension bridge, had been rebels’ only supply route into the city. 

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