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Syria Blog

Updates on the situation in Syria, as attacks on ISIL by the US and its allies add a new dimension to the civil war that began in 2011 and has killed more than 190,000 people.


  • A car bomb near a mosque in the Damascus provincial town of Suq Wadi Barada killed and wounded several people, said a monitoring group and state television.

    Neither source gave a specific toll for Friday's attack in the town, which is located northwest of the capital.

    "A powerful blast shook the town of Suq Wadi Barada. It was caused by a car bomb near the town mosque. We have confirmed reports that several were killed and wounded," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Some of the injured were children, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that while the town is under rebel control, loyalist troops are positioned right outside it.

    State television also reported the attack, blaming it on Al-Qaeda-linked "terrorists."

    "Al-Nusra Front terrorists detonated a car bomb near the Osama Bin Zeid mosque in Suq Wadi Barada in Damascus province. There are initial reports of people killed and wounded," the broadcaster said.

    Car bombings have plagued several areas of Syria in recent months, killing scores of people.

    [AFP]

  • Lebanese city feels Syria war's spillover

    The conflict in Syria continues to spill over into neighbouring countries. One of the major flashpoints has been the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. There has been renewed fighting there between rival groups. Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports.

    Lebanese city feels Syria war's spillover
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 2:20 AM
  • A huge car bomb has exploded in the capital Damascus with dozens of suspected deaths. The United Nations is also warning about the outbreak of disease, with 2.5 million people unable to receive aid. Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports.

    Deaths in car bomb at mosque near Damascus
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 3:47 AM

  • Add Caption
    Free Syrian Army fighters move a mortar to a hidden location in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district on October 25. [Reuters] 
    by Tamila Varshalomidze
    Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire a home-made rocket towards forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Ashrafieh, Aleppo on October 25. [Reuters] 
    by Tamila Varshalomidze
    A mortar shell is launched by Free Syrian Army fighters towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district on October 25. [Reuters] 
    by Tamila Varshalomidze
    Free Syrian Army fighters take pictures with their mobile phones as a mortar shell is launched in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district on October 25. [Reuters]
    by Tamila Varshalomidze
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  • The United Nations aid chief has demanded stronger action by the UN Security Council to get desperately needed aid into Syria, where 2.5 million people in need have not received help for almost a year.

    Valerie Amos, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, called upon members of the Council on Friday "to exert influence and take the necessary action to stop this brutality and violence".

    "This is a race against time. Three weeks have passed since the adoption of this Council's statement with little change to report," Amos told the Security Council. "As we deliberate, people continue to die unnecessarily.FULL STORY

  • A Syrian activist group says Kurdish gunmen have captured a crossing point on the Iraqi border after days of fighting with rebels.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Kurdish fighters captured the Yaaroubiyeh post in northeast Syria on Saturday after three days of clashes with several groups there, including al-Qaeda-linked factions Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

    The capture of the border point came hours after Syrian TV claimed that the leader of the powerful Jabhat al-Nusra has been killed. 

    Friday's one-line report, which could not be immediately confirmed, said Abu Mohammad al-Golani died in the coastal province of Latakia. [AP]






  • UN says diplomacy has failed to protect Syrian civilians and warns the ongoing civil war is preventing aid agencies from reaching people who desperately need their help. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports.

    UN aid chief seeks action on Syria aid access
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 12:17 PM

  • The UN-Arab League envoy to Syria arrived in Tehran on Saturday for talks with the foreign minister of Iran, a top ally of the Damascus regime, Mehr news agency said.

    Lakhdar Brahimi is pressing a tour in the region to drum up support in preparation for an international peace conference on Syria, which may take place in late November.

    In Tehran, Brahimi is to hold talks on Saturday with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, whose government is due to be invited to the talks dubbed Geneva 2. 

    Brahimi has already visited Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar to try to muster support for the talks on ending the 31-month conflict in Syria. [AFP]
  • Kurdish fighters in Syria seized a crossing on the eastern border with Iraq from rebel forces during fierce clashes at dawn, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    The Kurds "took control of the Al-Yaarubia border crossing with Iraq at dawn after clashes with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Al-Nusra Front and other rebels" on Saturday, the monitoring group said. [AFP]
  • Syrians are finding new ways to treat people being injured in the conflict. Volunteers are using the debris of the war to compensate for a lack of medical equipment.

    Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal explains.

    Syrians turn war debris into prosthetic limbs 
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 8:10 AM

  • A Syrian migrant whose children drowned earlier this month buries his head in his hands, during a commemorative service organised by the Jesuit Refugee Services for immigrants who lost their lives at sea earlier this month, at Valletta's Grand Harbour, October 25, 2013. European Union leaders rebuffed calls from southern European states on Friday for emergency action to tackle a wave of illegal migration from Africa despite the deaths of hundreds of people in Mediterranean boat disasters. [Reuters]

    by Tamila Varshalomidze


  • Armed opposition groups in Syria have said that they will not attend the Geneva II peace talks, saying that negotiating with the government of Bashar al-Assad would be an act of betrayal.

    More here.




  • Below is alleged video of Syrian opposition groups reading a statement rejecting the possibility for a Geneva II conference.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage.

    بيان القوى والفصائل الثورية في الداخل تسقط مؤتمر جنيف (2)
    by صقور الشام via YouTube on 11:28 PM yesterday

  • Australia's former foreign minister urged the government to consider barring Australians who fight in Syria from returning home.

    Security officials fear Australians are being radicalised through fighting in Syria and will heighten the terrorism threat in Australia.

    Bob Carr was foreign minister until the former Labor Party government lost power in an election last month. He told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday that as minister, he had been advised by his department that preventing Australians from returning from the Syrian civil war would be illegal because it would leave them stateless.

    Carr urged the new government to seek a legal option.

    "Australians are right to be apprehensive about people whose fighting skills have been honed there who seek to return to Australian full of murderous ideological bent,'' Carr told ABC.

    "We should continue to explore whether blocking the return of people is remotely available to us as an option,'' he added.

    [AP]
  • A 35-year-old man was killed in the southeastern Turkish town of Ceylanpinar early on Monday when a stray mortar shell fired across the border from Syria struck a house near the frontier, security sources said.

    The shell was fired during clashes between Kurdish and Islamist fighters in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, the sources said.

    Five people have now been killed in Turkey in similar incidents since clashes began in the area in July.

    Authorities closed schools in the town and warned locals not to leave their houses after the shell landed.

    In October last year a shell fired from Syria hit the Turkish border town of Akcakale, killing five Turkish citizens.

    [Reuters]
  • Russia on Monday described as "outrageous" a threat by powerful rebel groups in Syria against those who attend peace talks on the conflict backed by Moscow and Washington.

    "It is outrageous that some of these extremist, terrorist organisations fighting government forces in Syria are starting to make threats... against those who have the courage" to attend the so-called Geneva 2 conference, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in televised comments.
    [AFP]
  • A Syrian state agency issued an international tender on Monday to purchase and import 276,000 tonnes of white sugar.

    Syria's General Foreign Trade Organisation (GFTO) said the tender, for which bids should be delivered by Nov. 27, was issued "due to extreme urgency".
  • Kurdish fighters sought to consolidate their control of an oil-producing region in northeastern Syria after seizing a border crossing with Iraq from opposition armed groups, activists said.

    Fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought in neighbouring Turkey for decades, were clearing pockets of resistance of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al-Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham in the border town of Yarubiya, Syrian opposition sources said.

    Kurdish media published the above video following takeover of the Yarubiya border post on Sunday.

  • UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi flew in to Beirut on Monday on his way to Damascus to try to whip up support for a peace conference on Syria, airport sources said.

    Brahimi arrived from Tehran, where he said it was "necessary" for Iran, a key ally of the Damascus regime, to take part in an international peace conference aimed at ending Syria's two-and-a-half-year conflict.

    Brahimi was to travel overland to Damascus, making his first visit to Syria since last December.

    [AFP]
  • Syria's state media say government forces have retaken a Christian town north of Damascus after a week of clashes with al-Qaeda-linked fighters who had recently captured key parts of it.

    The state-run SANA news agency says the army "restored security and stability'' to the town of Sadad early on Monday.

    The town had been in opposition hands since last week, when al-Qaeda-linked groups captured a checkpoint that gave them control of the western part of the town.

    [AP]
  • Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from Beirut on the visit of the UN-Arab League envoy to Damascus.

  • China supports the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to play an role in solving the issue of Syria's chemical weapons, a spokeswoman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

    "The Syrian government has submitted an initial declaration and destruction plan for its chemical weapons program on time. It is a new progress that we welcome," said Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    "China supports the OPCW to play a positive role in destroying and inspecting Syria's chemical arms. China will participate in the OPCW's inspection and negotiation in order to implement the decisions made by the executive council of the organization," said Hua.

    [AP]
  • Palestinian men who fled Syria with their families take part in a protest in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza to demand assistance and work [AFP]

  • Palestinians who fled Syria take part in a protest in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza to demand assistance and work [AFP]

  • UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has arrived in Damascus for talks with Syrian government officials, amid reports of fierce fighting in and around the capital city.

    In his visit, which starts on Monday, he is expected to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign minister Walid al-Muallem.

    The Geneva II peace talks, backed by Russia and the US and due to take place on November 23, have been repeatedly postponed amid wrangling among the Syrian opposition, and a dispute over which countries, including Iran, should participate.

    Making the task harder for Brahimi has been the refusal of 19 powerful rebel groups in Syria to take part in the conference, saying that negotiating with the Assad government would be an act of betrayal.

    [Al Jazeera]
  • Syrian government forces are said to have retook a Christian town of Sadad, located north of Damascus early on Monday, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

    Though activists say fighting is still continuing near the town.

    Sadad had been in opposition hands since last week, when al-Qaida-linked groups captured a checkpoint that gave them control of the western part of the town.

    The rebels appear to have targeted Sadad because of its strategic location rather than because of its Christian heritage. However, hard-liners among the rebels are hostile to Syria's Christian minority which fears the radicals and tends to favour al-Assad.

    Other al-Qaida-linked fighters have damaged and desecrated churches including vandalizinig the town's Saint Theodor Church, The Associated Press has reported.

    Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighters in Syria torched an Armenian church in the northern town of Tel Abyad along the border with Turkey late on Sunday.

    [AP)

  • Internally displaced Syrians build mud homes
    by Al Jazeera International via YouTube on 5:54 PM

    Lacking money and material to build new homes, many internally displaced Syrians have to use mud to construct temporary shelters.

    Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal reports. 

  • UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who arrived in Damascus Monday, believes President Bashar al-Assad could contribute to the transition to a "new" Syria, but not as the country's leader.

    Brahimi, who was in Syria on the latest leg of a regional tour to rally support for peace talks, spoke about Assad in an interview in Paris with the Jeune Afrique website published Monday.

    [AFP]
  • Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the first Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) progress report on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons programme.
    OPCW Progress Report
  • The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia has told young Saudis that they should not go to Syria to fight in the civil war. Read Al Jazeera's story on his statement.

    by Graeme Baker


  • UN special envoy back in Syria for talks:

    The UN special envoy to Syria is back in Damascus on his latest round of shuttle diplomacy. Lakhdar Brahimi is trying to bring together all sides in the conflict for proposed peace talks in Geneva. But so far, he has failed to convince several opposition factions, and Syria's neighbours also want their voices heard.

    Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson reports.

  • A Polio outbreak has been confirmed in Syria by laboratory sources. Ten out of 22 suspected cases have been detected so far, according to a World Health Organisation spokesman, reports Reuters news agency.
  • The UN-Arab League envoy for Syria has met a senior opposition figure in Damascus as part of a diplomatic push to convince all sides in the country's crisis to attend peace talks in Geneva next month.

    The envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, held talks with Hassan Abdul-Azim, the head of a Damascus-based opposition group.

    The group has called for regime change through peaceful means and is not part of the opposition Syrian National Coalition or rebel groups fighting to topple the Syrian president.

    Abdul-Azim says Brahimi told him the US and Russia are determined to hold the peace conference next month.

    One of the key sticking points in getting the opposition to agree to the talks is the issue of Assad's future.

    Abdul-Azim says this is for Syrians to decide among themselves.

    - AP
  • Polio has broken out among young children in northeast Syria, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday, and could spread within and beyond national borders.

    The highly contagious and crippling disease transmitted via contaminated food and water, has spread as civil war has continued to grip the country.

    More here.

  • Breaking: Syrian Prime Minister Qadri Jamil has been dismissed.

    [Reuters]
  • The UN-Arab League envoy for Syria met with a senior opposition figure in Damascus as part of a diplomatic push to convince all sides in the country's crisis to attend peace talks in Geneva next month.

    The envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, held talks on Tuesday with Hassan Abdul-Azim, the head of a Damascus-based opposition group.

    The group has called for regime change through peaceful means and is not part of the opposition Syrian National Coalition or rebel groups fighting to topple the Syrian president.

    Abdul-Azim says Brahimi told him the US and Russia are determined to hold the peace conference next month.

    One of the key sticking points in getting the opposition to agree to the talks is the issue of Assad's future.

    Abdul-Azim says this is for Syrians to decide among themselves.

    [AP]
  • An opposition fighter sits by a fire among rubble of a destroyed building in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district [Reuters]

  • Families in the Damascus suburb of Maadamiyyet al-Sham were being evacuated by the Red Crescent on Tuesday, activists reported.

    Online activists have posted the following video from the besieged rebel-held area.

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