Syria: Arab summit begins with empty Syria seat

Islamist rebels have taken their first coastal village in north Syria Tuesday, reports and video footage confirm. “This is the first area of coast in Syria to be liberated,” an activist stated on the capturing of Samra on the Mediterranean coastline.

Syria’s Aleppo, the nation’s largest city, is getting slammed by fierce fighting yet again.

“We told them every shell (they fire) equals five barrel bombs,” said Amar, a local policeman in the city, who argued that any civilians hit by the highly destructive improvised weapons deserved it for tolerating “terrorists.” “They didn’t believe us and they continued launching shells, so the army responded with a pounding of barrel bombs.”

Reports currently say governmental forces are now surrounding the province on three sides as rebels are trying to continue control over the area. On the defensive, rebels from elswhere have come to join the offensive. Rebels hold half of the city as of now.

An annual Arab League summit has begun Tuesday in Kuwait with calls to arm Syrian rebels, among discussing other Middle Eastern and Gulf political issues. Meetings over Syria have been held in the main meeting hall or on the sidelines:

“Exiting from the Syrian crisis requires changing the balance of forces on the ground,” Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz told the opening session, stressing the need for more support for the rebels. Fadhel Jawad, the Arab League assistant secretary-general for political affairs, has said the Arab leaders will hold a special session during the summit in a bid to sort out their differences. Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said: “Not all issues are discussed in the meeting hall. Some issues are debated on the sidelines behind the scenes.”

Syria’s seat will remain empty in the two-day summit, reports say. In last year’s summit, the Arab League allowed for the opposition to take the seat in any coming summits but conflict brewed over the proposition. Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria objected the idea and refused to have the opposition take the Syrian seat.

The head of the Syria National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, was invited to speak at the summit Tuesday and commented on the empty seat. “Let me say, quite frankly, that keeping Syria’s seat empty in your midst sends a clear message to Assad that he can kill, and that the seat will wait for him to resolve his war,” al-Jarba stated in front of the entire Arab League.

“I do not ask you for a declaration of war, but I ask you that you support our cause and find a solution guaranteeing the interests of our people and our country,” Jarba said.

On the ground

Clashes have brewed on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkey border Monday and Tuesday. The opposition has pushed along the border in an effort to reach access of the Mediterranean coastline, which they’ve completed Tuesday.

After capturing Kassab and the aligning border crossing, Islamist rebels have taken their first coastal village in north Syria Tuesday. Video footage and photos show opposition rebels on the beach and in the Samra village.

This seems to have been a part of the Friday offensive rebels launched Friday against Latakia. The Syrian news agency SANA reports government forces have taken the Niser hills near Kassab.

Through talks

Turkey has issued a warning against al-Qaida members in Syria over a Turkish troop guarding Ottoman memorial being threatened in north Syria. The Turkish government states al-Qaida groups are now in the area and have given the troop an ultimatum.

Because of this escalation, tanks have been moved to the Mursitpinar village on the Turkish border in preparation of any action that may be needed. “All groups in Syria including the Syrian regime should know that any wrong attitude and move against Turkish territory will bring retaliation,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. “Everything possible will be done to ensure the security of our soldiers.”

Headlines

More Syrian rockets fall on Lebanon, hitting eastern village of Hor Taala outside Baalbek city — Lebanese foreign minister says Syria crisis is posing a threat to Lebanon — The United Nations completed a five-day mission to send humanitarian aid through the northeast Turkey Qamishli crossing.

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