News in Images

  • WaerCarbomb

    SHAKY HOMS: A car explosion in front of a school in the regime-controlled neighborhood of Akrama killed at least 20 people and injured 60 others on Wednesday, reported the pro-regime news agency National Defense of Homs.

    Most of the victims were children, as the bomb went off when students were leaving from school.

    No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

    At least one pro-regime supporter on social media laid the entirety of the blame for the attack on Al-Waer’s residents.

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  • Kobani-IS

    ENDGAME: The Islamic State continues to creep closer to the Kurdish city of Kobani near the Turkish border in northern Aleppo, even after as fresh Kurdish attacks and coalition airstrikes on IS positions Tuesday. 

    “IS continues to advance and is now only three kilometers from the city,” Adnan Hussein, a Kurdish journalist based on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, told Syria Direct Tuesday. 

    “In the past few days we have seen hundreds of of young men return to defend [Kobani].”

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  • Barzeh

    TRUCE AND LIES: Birzeh was the first neighborhood in Damascus to launch protests against the rule of Bashar al-Assad in April 2011, and also the first to sign a truce between rebel and regime forces at the beginning of this year after enduring total regime encirclement for eight months. 

    Although the truce stipulated the “return of services to the neighborhood, and the repair of infrastructure,” electricity is still only available for a few hours a day, and sometimes once every few days, a citizen journalist present in Birzeh told Syria Direct Monday.

    Food is scarce in the neighborhood, due to regime checkpoints surrounding Birzeh that impede movement in and out, the activist said. Here, a child searches for kindling amidst debris.

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  • Photo Caption Nusra

    MARCH FOR NUSRA: Protestors took to the streets across Idlib and Aleppo provinces on Thursday condemning the US-led coalition airstrikes on al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra, which killed 50 fighters on Monday night and Tuesday, according to the pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Jabhat a-Nusra entered Idlib province in mid-2012, and gradually came to control a narrow strip of land bordering Turkey.

    In the picture above on the left, a protestor can be seen holding a sign that reads, “Jabhat a-Nusra came to our aid when the entire world abandoned us,” while another sign on the right says “we are all Jabhat a-Nusra.”

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    YALLA YALLA: Fighters with al-Qaida franchise Jabhat a-Nusra abandon their headquarters in Idlib province, heading for an unknown location to avoid further casualties after US-led coalition warplanes killed 30 Nusra members Tuesday, reported the pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Among the dead was Nusra commander and renowned sniper Abu Yusuf a-Turki, whose picture circulated on social media websites Tuesday.

    In one attack, warplanes struck a Nusra command center in Idlib province, resulting in 15 dead, “most of them civilians” including several children, the Violations Documentation Center in Syria said on Wednesday.

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  • Massacre4

    LAMESTREAM MEDIA: One day after the PYD announced a campaign on September 13 to drive the Islamic State (IS) from the Kurdish-majority area of Tel Hamees in the northeast outskirts of Al-Hasakah province, news of a Kurdish-led massacre in two towns around Tel Hamees swept the mainstream Sunni Arab news media.

    It is one of the perils of reading the Arabic news media; poorly sourced and vague reports quickly get shared despite little evidence or basis in fact within the articles.

    In the case of an Al-Jazeera published on September 14, the article opens by saying “sources” tell the satellite channel that the PYD committed a “massacre” in the northeast of Al-Hasakah province. Jazeera then went on to cite “activists” saying that the massacre had taken place, with no direct quotations and no names mentioned in the article.

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  • Al-Waer9-22

    STONE SOUP: Rebels in the holdout neighborhood of Al-Waer – the last opposition-controlled area in Homs city – agreed upon a tentative truce with the Assad regime Sunday, leading to a mixed reaction from residents.

    “I do not trust the regime in this truce because a number of [regime] security officers benefit from the siege of Al-Waer and profit from it,” Hassan Abu Zein, the director of the pro-opposition Coalition of Youth for the Revolution in Homs, told Syria Direct Monday.

    The regime and rebels have agreed to truces before, none of which have lasted.

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  • EMINENT DOMAIN: Displaced residents of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of Ghweiran in Al-Hasakah city marched Wednesday in protest of Tuesday’s joint Kurdish PYD and regime takeover of the district, demanding that the regime forces leave the neighborhood and allow them back in.

    After over a month of fighting, Ghweiran rebels, mostly composed of local fighters and former Free Syrian Army commanders, agreed to cede control of the besieged neighborhood Tuesday in exchange for safe passage out of the city. The regime and PYD share joint control over the provincial capital.

    Meanwhile, the hundreds of displaced Ghweiran residents who were forced to evacuate the district when violence escalated have been trapped outside of their homes.

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    BACKTRACKING: Rebels led by Free Syrian Army-associated battalions and Jabhat a-Nusra announced Monday that they captured the east Damascus suburb Dukhaniyeh as part of their larger strategy to retake the town of Mleiha – the east gateway in and out of the capital.

    While much of the media attention around Damascus has been focused on the regime’s vicious aerial campaign against nearby Jobar, ultimately al-Dukhaniyeh may prove to be more crucial in the battle for the capital.

    By taking Dukhaniyeh, the rebels hope to cut off the central road that transports troops and military supplies between central Damascus and Mleiha.

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    BRIDGE TO NOWHERE: The Deir e-Zor Siyasiya Bridge, the last active supply route into the Islamic State-controlled provincial capital, was crippled Monday morning by a blast by an as-yet unknown party, isolating the city from its suburbs.

    “The explosion took place after charges were placed on the sides of the bridge and detonated by remote control,” a spokesperson for the city who asked not be named told Syria Direct Monday.

    In this photograph taking shortly after the explosion, the suspension bridge is severed just before it stretches over the Euphrates River.

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Reports

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In a Turkish enclave, IS backs off for now

October 1, 2014 By Brent Eng and Mohammad al-Haj Ali AMMAN: The Islamic State may have avoided a confrontation with Turkey on Wednesday by reportedly releasing 36 Turkish soldiers guarding the tomb... Read more

Syrian civil society reacts to coalition bombings

September 29, 2014 Following is a sampling of civil society reactions to the American-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State and other Islamist brigades across the north and east of Syria,... Read more

Despite reported airstrikes, Islamic State edges toward Ain al-Arab

September 24, 2014 Reports of US-led airstrikes around Ain al-Arab have not hampered the Islamic State’s march toward the major Kurdish city close to the Turkish border. By Brent Eng and Mohammad... Read more

UN: 130,000 Syrians fleeing Islamic State arrive in Turkey

September 22, 2014 By Mohammed al-Haj Ali and Dan Wilkofsky AMMAN: An estimated 130,000 Syrians--the majority of them Kurdish--have crossed the border into Turkey since last week, fleeing a rapid Islamic State... Read more

Turkish authorities reportedly deny entry to Syrians fleeing IS in north

September 18, 2014 By Osama Abu Zeid and Brent Eng AMMAN: Thousands of residents fled north to escape the Islamic State's notorious violence after the jihadist group attacked Kurdish villages near the... Read more

Moderate rebel leaders being picked off in ‘new phase’ of battle

September 17, 2014 By Osama Abu Zeid and Dan Wilkofsky AMMAN: A recent string of precise regime airstrikes suggests a campaign to take out moderate-leaning FSA commanders, including those tied to the United... Read more

Interviews

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Kurdish reporter: IS ‘exports their terror’ to Kurdish cities

October 1, 2014 US-led coalition warplanes struck IS positions on the outskirts of the Kurdish-majority town of Kobani Wednesday in an attempt to check IS's stubborn... Read more

Under Islamic State rule, Deir e-Zor residents live in ‘anxiety’

September 30, 2014 While the city of A-Raqqa is the Islamic State's (IS) primary stronghold in Syria, the provincial capital of Deir e-Zor also fell to... Read more

Syrian Kurds announce program to change academic curriculum to Kurdish

September 25, 2014 Kurdish forces in the besieged area of Ain al-Arab near the Turkish border are barely holding out against a potent Islamic State attack,... Read more

View from the Turkish border town where refugees sleep in streets

September 23, 2014 A major Islamic State offensive against the Kurdish-majority city of Ain al-Arab in northern Aleppo on Thursday sent thousands of Syrians fleeing into... Read more

'The Badr a-Sham campaign is over'

September 18, 2014 Regime forces took control over the villages of Arza and Rahbat Khatab in early September as they pushed rebels back from the Hama... Read more

Enforced disappearance a ‘continuous practice of the Assads’

September 16, 2014 Introduction and interview by Kristen Gillespie. Syria is one of the places in the world where people still disappear off the streets. It has... Read more

News Roundup

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Syria Direct: News Update 10-1-14

Rebels south of Damascus The Syrian army launched an attack on a rebel-held town outside a military complex in south Damascus on Wednesday, hoping to stymie... Read more

Syria Direct: News update 9-30-14

Rebels push back in Damascus suburb Opposition forces led by Jaish al-Islam fought off regime efforts to capture the rebel-held town of Tal a-Sawan Monday, temporarily... Read more

Syria Direct: News Update 9-29-14

 Hitting grain silos ‘foreshadows humanitarian disaster’ US-led coalition warplanes conducted airstrikes across vast swathes of territory in northern and eastern Syria on Sunday and Monday, striking... Read more

Syria Direct: News Update 9-25-14

Lebanese army detains Syrians in Arsal The Lebanese army stormed Syrian refugee camps in the village of Arsal and the Abi Samra area near Tripoli Thursday... Read more

Syria Direct: News Update 9-24-14

Coalition bombs fall on Iraq border town Warplanes from the United States-led coalition bombed the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Al-Bokamel for the second day in a... Read more

Syria Direct: News Update 9-23-2014

IDF downs Syrian warplane The Israeli military shot down a Syrian warplane that was reportedly flying over the occupied Golan Heights Tuesday and targeting rebel positions... Read more