Syria: Assad confident, repeated chemical weapon usage up in the air

As the war rages on, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said the three year ongoing civil war is turning in his favor. 

“This is a turning point in the crisis, both militarily in terms of the army’s achievements in the war against terror, and socially in terms of national reconciliation processes and growing awareness of the truth behind the (attacks) targeting the country,” he said. […]

“The state is trying to restore security and stability in the main areas that the terrorists have struck,” said Assad, adding “we will go after their positions and sleeper cells later.”

“You cannot really afford to have Syria, Iraq and Lebanon – this axis of instability – going into havoc,” said Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese army general and senior lecturer on geopolitics and war studies at the American University of Beirut. Lebanon keeps on chugging along, warily, dealing with the violent spillover from the Syrian war next door.

On the ground

Syrian troops have retaken the Christian town of Maalula in the Qalamoun mountains area near the Lebanon border. This gain gives the regime more access to Lebanon and further its control over the Yabroud-Qalamoun region.

In Assad’s heartland of Latakia right off the Mediterranean coastline, war creeps closer as rebels move in. An offensive by the armed opposition has threatened the safety of Assad’s home province as rebels have captured Kessab in the north and are trying to capture more land of Latakia.

Opposition fighters charge on in Aleppo, making advancements over the weekend. Their efforts have cut of the government’s access to an international airport and an army base in the northern city of Syria. Fighting in Aleppo kills at least 29.

Deadly fighting has occurred between various rebel groups and al-Qaida in Deir ez-Zor where opposition groups, including al-Qaida backed Jabhat al-Nusra, were dueling with formerly al-Qaida backed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) over former government-controlled land.

51 were killed in Syria jihadist clashes on the Iraq border, a NGO reports.

Through talks

There have been claims of more chemical weapon attacks from and by both sides – the government and the opposition. A report from the BBC:

The government and opposition forces in Syria have accused each other of using poison gas in an attack on a village on Friday.

State TV said the jihadist Nusra Front group launched the attack on Kafr Zita in Hama province, killing two people and injuring dozens of others. But opposition groups quoted doctors as saying that an attack by regime planes led to suffocation and poisoning.

The Syrian opposition also reported they have video and photo evidence of a chlorine gas attack from last week. Chlorine is a chemical that was not included in the agreed upon requirements of the country’s chemical weapons handover to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for destruction.

The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said that torture is “routinely” used in the Syrian war.

“In armed conflict, torture constitutes a war crime,” said the UN rights commissioner. “When it is used in a systematic or widespread manner, which is almost certainly the case in Syria, it also amounts to a crime against humanity.”

Pillay called on both the government and opposition groups to “halt the use of torture and ill-treatment, and to release all those who have been arbitrarily detained in conditions that clearly breach international human rights standards.”

Lebanon and Jordan are to work together on the Syrian refugee crisis.


Malnutrition, desperation still plague Yarmouk refugee camp just outside Damascus.
Drought could further complicate already difficult food crisis in Syria.
In Jordan town, Syria war inspires jihadist dreams. Hezbollah shifts tactics, narrative for Syria fight.
13th shipment of chemicals has been delivered to Latakia, raising the overall total of removals to 65%


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