Wednesday 11 December 2013

2013 Dec 11Syrian Observatory for Human RightsAttacks on Kurds continue. ISIS forcibly displace Syrian Kurdish civilians from their homes in the town of Tal Abyad.

Activists from Tal Abyad city have reported that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) forcibly evicted 15 Kurdish families from their houses in the town 2 days ago, because they allegedly support the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). They reported that the ISIS refused to let the forcibly displaced families take any of their belonging with them, and made them leave before the deadline imposed on them to evacuate their homes and town to an unknown location. This meant that the families were forced to sleep in the open in the current terrible weather, with snow falling on Tal Abyad and many other parts of Syria. The ISIS then housed families who are linked to it in the homes of the displaced Kurds. One of the displaced suffered a a heart attack and had to be taken to cross the Turkish border to seek medical assistance. Activists also report that the ISIShave stormed the house of another Syrian Kurd and destroyed some of his property. Activists in the area also confirmed the death of a 60 year old man after 3 months of being detained by the ISIS, he died of wounds from torture. In Aleppo province the ISIS attacked the villages of Tel Betal and Quntarsh, by al-Bab city, and that the ISIS kidnapped 2 civilians during their attack yesterday. the ISIS has imposed a siege on the Kobani and Efrin districts of Aleppo province since February 2013, the areas are predominantly Kurdish. In the past three days the ISIS executed 5 men that tried to take food to the besieged areas. The villages in the western countryside witness almost daily clashes between the YPG and the ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and their rebel allies.The ISIS has detained from 2/12/2013 51 Syrian Kurdish civilians, including 2 children, 7 girls and a woman, from the cities of Menbej and Jarablus, Aleppo province. Only 5 of those kidnapped have been released so far. The ISIS has reportedly since taken over the bakeries and stores of Kurdish civilians in the Menbej.

The ISIS kidnapped 11 civilians, including a woman and a girl, from the city of Jarables 2 days ago.

Clashes continue since this morning between the ISIS and YPG by the Juneidiya village in Hasakah province, 3 YPG fighters have been killed

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Summarized death toll for Wednesday 11/12/2013; 110 were killed in Syria yesterday. The dead include: 36 civilians, 16 rebel fighters, 20 regular soldiers, 3 YPG fighters, 9 unidentified rebel fighters, 5 combatants from the Palestinian Liberation Army, 15 NDF combatants and at least 12 non-Syrian fighters.

– In Reef Dimashq 18 civilians and 8 rebel fighters were killed. 5 civilians, including a woman, were killed in the al-Nabek city, activists accused regular forces and supporting militias of killing them in the city. 4 civilians, including a child, were killed by regime bombardment on parts of the Douma city. 6 civilians were killed in the A’dra industrial city by shells and gunshots.

– In Aleppo 8 civilians and 3 rebel fighters were killed.

– In Dera’a 5 civilians and 2 rebel fighters were killed. 1 man and his 3 grandsons (children) were killed by aerial bombardment on the Fleita village 2 days earlier.

– In Idlib 3 civilians and 1 rebel fighter were killed. 2 were tortured to death in Syrian security centres.

– In Homs 2 rebel fighters were killed.

– In Deir Izzor 1 civilian was killed.

– In al-Raqqa 1 civilian was killed.


– Reports that 2 men were found dead in the al-Qadam neighbourhood and reports that 20 were killed and injured by bombardment and gunshots on the A’dra city.

– 3 YPG fighters were killed when rebel fighters attacked a YPG checkpoint at the al-Janida village in Reef Karki Laki (M’abda) city in Reef al-Hasaka.

– 5 combatants from the Palestinian Liberation Army were killed by an attack by Islamic battalions on their centres in A’dra and its surrounding areas in Reef Dimashq.


– 9 unidentified rebel fighters were killed by clashes and bombardment in several areas.

– 4 rebel fighters were killed by clashes with members of the Shari’a council when Sharia members were chasing a wanted person, the latter told rebel fighters that he was being chased by gunmen who wanted to kidnap him which led to clashes between both sides in Aleppo city.

– At least 12 non-Syrian fighters from the ISIS, al-Nusra and Islamic battalions were killed by clashes and bombardment in several areas.


– 15 NDF combatants were killed by clashes and attacks on machinery and checkpoints in several towns and cities.

– At least 20 regular soldiers were killed by clashes, sniper shots and rocket attacks on centres, checkpoints and machineries in several provinces: 2 Aleppo, 10 Damascus and Reef Dimashq, 7 Dera’a and 1 in Homs.

2013 Dec 11BBC: US and UK suspend non-lethal aid for Syria rebels

The US and UK have suspended all “non-lethal” support for rebels in northern Syria, but not humanitarian aid.

A US spokesman said it was concerned about reports that Islamist rebels had seized bases belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Fighters from the Islamic Front, a new alliance of rebel groups, ousted FSA-aligned fighters from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey last week.

The non-lethal aid includes medicine, vehicles and communications equipment.

The US and European countries have been reluctant to supply weapons and ammunition directly to rebel groups in Syria because of concerns that they might end up in the possession of jihadists affiliated to al-Qaeda.

However, they have reportedly facilitated secret arms shipments.


image of James ReynoldsJames ReynoldsBBC News, Istanbul

The US and the UK face a fundamental problem in Syria – how can they support the moderate Syrian opposition without also, indirectly, supporting the increasingly powerful Islamist opposition?

This year, the US promised to send $250m of non-lethal supplies to the moderates represented by the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army. The aid is reported to include vehicles, communications equipment and night-vision goggles. This year, the UK has provided more than £20m of non-lethal aid – including communications and search and rescue equipment.

Crucially, some of these supplies may now be with the Islamists. Rebels from the newly formed Islamist Front have taken over warehouses in northern Syria belonging to the FSA. This takeover reflects the growing power of Islamist factions within the Syrian opposition movement.

For this reason, the US and the UK have suspended their delivery of aid. For the White House and for Downing Street, the idea of supporting the Syrian opposition is getting increasingly complicated.


White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed the US had “suspended all further deliveries of non-lethal assistance into northern Syria” as a result of events at Bab al-Hawa.

But he stressed that humanitarian aid was not affected by the decision.

UK Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson told the BBC that “as far as we know at the moment” no British equipment had passed into the hands of Islamist militants, but he added: “It does make sense to suspend that aid until we know exactly what’s happened.”

The FSA said the suspension was a mistake. “We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer,” spokesman Louay Meqdad was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Last month, seven leading rebel groups – the Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Haqq, Ansar al-Sham and the Kurdish Islamic Front – declared that they were forming the largest alliance yet in the 33-month conflict, with an estimated 45,000 fighters.

They said the new Islamic Front was an “independent political, military and social formation” that aimed to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s government and build an Islamic state.

The front does not include al-Qaeda affiliates like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front, but its charter welcomes “muhajirin”, or foreign fighters, as “brothers who supported us in jihad”, and suggests it is willing to co-operate with them.

Last week, the Islamic Front announced that it had withdrawn from the command of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council (SMC), which is aligned to the opposition National Coalition.

Four days later, its fighters drove out SMC-aligned forces out of their bases and warehouses at Bab al-Hawa, in the north-western province of Idlib, which contained weapons and equipment that had been brought into Syria through Turkey.

Hugh Robertson, UK minister for the Middle East: “Because of what has happened overnight, it makes sense to suspend that aid”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, said dozens of anti-aircraft weapons and anti-tank rockets were taken.

Mr Meqdad said the Islamic Front had raised its flag in place of the SMC’s after “asking” its personnel to leave. But he also stressed: “We believe that those brigades are our brothers, that they know that we are not the enemy.”

On Wednesday, the US embassy spokesman told the Reuters news agency that the situation at Bab al-Hawa was being investigated to “inventory the status of US equipment and supplies provided to the SMC”.

Humanitarian assistance by the US would not be affected because it was distributed through international and non-governmental organisations, the spokesman added.

Officials in Washington told the Associated Press that deliveries of non-lethal aid to the south of Syria via Jordan would also continue.

The US government has committed to provide $250m (£152m) in non-lethal assistance to the National Coalition, local opposition councils and the SMC. Rebel brigades have been provided with food rations, medical supplies, communications equipment and vehicles.

The UK is providing more than £20m in non-lethal support, including 4×4 vehicles, body armour, generators, communications equipment, water purification kits and equipment to protect against chemical weapons.

The rebel infighting comes as government forces make advances.

In the past two months, several towns around the capital Damascus and the second city of Aleppo have been recaptured by soldiers backed by pro-government militiamen, members of the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards, activists say.

An offensive is also under way in the Qalamoun mountains, which run along the border with Lebanon. On Tuesday, troops started moving towards the town of Yabrud, the last rebel stronghold in the area.

Reuters: Portugal considers asylum for 74 Syrians with fake passports

LISBON – Portugal is considering asylum requests from a group of 74 Syrians detained after flying in from Guinea-Bissau using fake Turkish passports, Portuguese officials said on Wednesday.

TEL SARHAN CAMP, Lebanon – The season’s first snow settled in parts of Lebanon on Wednesday and refugee children who have fled the war in Syria took the opportunity to have a snowball fight outside their tents.

Al Qaeda tightens grip on western Iraq in bid for Islamic state

BAGHDAD – In Iraq’s western desert near the Syrian border, in a landscape of sand and rock, a signpost announces that you are entering al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).