Thursday, May 1, 2014

Syria Updates May 1 , 2014 --- Various updates regarding the ongoing Syria Wars , One pitting the Government vs against insurgents / jihadists / mercenaries - and their funding sources and freedom fighters , the other ongoing War is internal among the various insurgents / jihadists / mercenaries and their funding sources and freedom fighters ...... news on the political fronts - domestic and international ......

Syria ......

'Al Qaeda in Kurdistan' breaks ranks with ISIS over Syria

A group calling itself "al Qaeda in Kurdistan" sided with al Qaeda's emir against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham in the ongoing dispute over control of the jihad in Syria. In doing so, the group also renewed its pledge of "allegiance" to Ayman al Zawahiri and Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, and said it would fight the ISIS if needed.
Al Qaeda in Kurdistan released its statement on a jihadist forum on April 25, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated it.
"We give the glad tidings to the Ummah of the renewal of pledging allegiance to the Sheikh of the Mujahideen, the wise man of the Ummah [Muslim community], Doctor Ayman al Zawahiri, may Allah make his foothold firm, and on top the Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar, may Allah preserve him, to listen and obey in enthusiasm and reluctance for jihad in the cause of Allah," the al Qaeda in Kurdistan statement said, according to SITE.
Al Qaeda in Kurdistan offered to "disavow from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham," the former al Qaeda affiliate that was recently denounced by al Qaeda's General Command.
"[T]here is nothing between us and them but the sword. We consider the disavowal from the group of the State to be like a surgical operation on the body and the structure of Qaedat al-Jihad and, Allah permitting, it will be a healing for us and an increase in our life," al Qaeda in Kurdistan said.
The group also expressed its "condolences and consolation" for Abu Khalid al Suri, Zawahiri's personal representative to Syria who was killed in a suspected ISIS suicide attack earlier this year.
The composition of al Qaeda in Kurdistan is unclear, but this may be the group that the US calls "Al Qaeda Kurdish Battalions."
Al Qaeda Kurdish Battalions was "established in 2007 from the remnants of other Kurdish terrorist organizations," and "has sworn allegiance publicly to other terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq," the ISIS's predecessor, according to the US State Department's designation of the terrorist group in January 2012.
"QKB [Al Qaeda Kurdish Battalions] is comprised of former elements of Ansar al Islam, and other Kurdish Islamic movements loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) -- also known as AQI [al Qaeda in Iraq]," Jason Blazakis, the Director of the Bureau of Counterterrorism's Office of Terrorist Designations and Sanctions, told The Long War Journal at the time of the designation.
Al Qaeda in Kurdistan's split with the ISIS emerges as rumors have surfaced that the Al Nusrah Front for the people of the Levant, al Qaeda's branch in Syria, will establish a branch inside Iraq.
The Al Nusrah Front's emir, Abu Muhammad al Julani, has been at odds with Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIS, after the latter attempted to subsume the Al Nusrah Front into the Islamic State in April 2013. Al Julani refused, and was backed by Zawahiri.
Al Qaeda has attempted to mediate the dispute and has called on the ISIS to submit to sharia, or Islamic, courts in order to resolve the problems. Al Baghdadi has refused, and the two groups began clashing in late 2013.

Syria Air Strike Hits Aleppo School, Killing 25

Second School Hit in 24 Hours Across Syria

by Jason Ditz, April 30, 2014
Underscoring the increasingly inaccurate nature of the Syrian Civil War, a military air strike, involving a barrel bomb, careened off course in a rebel held district of the northern city of Aleppo, hitting an elementary school.
The bomb tore through the school, ripping the side off of it and killing 25 people within, including several children. Multiple strikes hit the Ansari District of Aleppo, though this was the only one reported to have caused deaths.
It’s the second school in Syria hit in the last 24 hours, as a rebel attack on Damascus included a series of mortars fired against a Christian-dominated neighborhood, and hit a school there, killing 14 and wounding 86.Again, most of the victims were children.
No side in the war seems particularly accurate with their strikes, and similarly none seem all that concerned about the massive civilian toll being racked up by their strikes, with many considering the civilians in a rival’s territory to be “the enemy” as much as the combatants are.

Syria Direct .....


13 total presidential candidates as Thursday deadline nears
Six additional Syrians announced Wednesday they will apply to run in Syria’s June presidential elections, official government news agency SANA reported, raising the number of total candidates including President Bashar al-Assad to 13. Prospective candidates have until May 1st to submit their applications to Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court under the new electoral law. If approved, candidates must collect signatures from 35 of Syria’s 250 parliamentarians before becoming official nominees. The election, scheduled for June 3rd, has been repeatedly labeled a “parody of democracy” by the Syrian opposition and Western nations.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Syria’s internal opposition, the National Coordination Committee, which is formally tolerated by the Syrian regime, told a-Safir his group would join in a boycott of the elections, labeling them “theater.”
ISIS, Jabhat a-Nusra vie for control of Deir e-Zor oil fields
The Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham claimed Wednesday to have seized control over two oil and gas fields in eastern Deir e-Zor province from al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat a-Nusra. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, reported that ISIS had withdrawn and Jabhat a-Nusrainsisted it retained control of the fields. The fields lie outside of the Deir e-Zor town of al-Basira on the Euphrates River, 10 kilometers southeast of the city of Deir e-Zor and 30 kilometers west of the Iraqi border.
ISIS, Jabhat a-Nusra and other rebel groups have leveraged control of Syria’s eastern oil fields to sell crudely refined oil to finance their operations. On Sunday, Iraqi army helicopters struck an ISIS convoy of eight trucks inside Syria, saying the transnational extremist group was ferrying the oil to ISIS vehicles in Iraq’s western Anbar province.
Oil fieldISIS combatants touted their seizure of two oil and gas fields in Deir e-Zor province Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Tamim al-Garib.
Rebels in Latakia show off US-made TOW missiles
The moderate Liwa al-Aadiyat Brigade uploaded a video Wednesday purporting to show a US-made BGM-71 TOW missile in northern Latakia province, the first time the advanced American weapons have appeared in the province. In the video, the rebel group uses the weapon, which has also appeared in southern Daraa province, to destroy a government tank on Observatory 45, a government installation atop the highest point in Latakia province.
On April 14th, moderate rebel group Harakat Hazm first displayed the U.S.-made system in Idlib province, saying they were supplied by the “Friends of Syria” alliance of Western nations and Gulf states.
In late March, rebels seized both Observatory 45 and Kessab as they announced the “Anfal” campaign to strike at Latakia province, the historic homeland of Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect. In recent weeks, Syrian forces have pushed back, retaking Observatory 45 and a-Samara, a village four kilometers west of Kessab.


In our News Roundup, we summarize the day's most important events from local sources inside Syria. Subscribe here to have it delivered to your inbox.
Jordan’s Azraq camp opens, capacity for 51,000 refugees
Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp officially opens Wednesday outside of the eastern Jordanian desert city of Azraq, 100 kilometers east of Amman and 90 kilometers south of the northern border with Syria. The camp, with a ready capacity for 51,000 Syrian refugees and future capacity for 130,00, is already home to 430 Syrians. The UNHCR, which administers the camp along with Zaatari Camp, says it has built on lessons learned in Zaatari, which opened in July 2012 with space for 20,000 refugees but quickly became home to more than 120,000, making it Jordan’s fourth largest population center. Jordan hosts 594,258 Syrian refugees, according to UNHCR statistics, 28,000 of whom have arrived in Jordan in 2014.
Syrian Refugee camp AzraqThe Jordanian government officially opened the Azraq Camp for Syrian refugees on Wednesday. Courtesy of@UnitedNationsJO.
Car bombs kill dozens in government-held Homs
Between 40 and 60 people were killed when two car bombs exploded in the regime-held majority-Alawite neighborhood of a-Zahra in Homs, pro-opposition activist Ahmed Ali Yasseen told Syria Direct Tuesday. The twin bombings occurred on the crowded al-Abbasiyeh Street, with the second car detonating as rescue teams pulled the injured from the rubble left by the first blast. Pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported that 40 were killed and 116 injured in the “terrorist explosion.” The car bombings were the third in as many weeks in regime-held Homs. Rebels have clung to the 13 encircled neighborhoods in Old Homs in addition to the al-Waer district, home to thousands of displaced Syrians, and a swath of northern Homs province.
ISIS crucifies two, executes another five in a-Raqqa
The Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) published graphic photographs late Tuesday night of two individuals crucified by the group in Syria’s northern a-Raqqa province, stating that an additional five were also executed. The photos show the two men strapped to crosses in a public square, surrounded by children, draped by signs that read “This man fought against Muslims here.” ISIS accused the seven men of targeting an ISIS soldier with an improvised explosive device thrown from a motorcycle last week, stating that one Muslim civilian lost his leg and a child was blinded. The statement came one day after ISIS announced that its youngest fighter, a13-year-old boy, fighter had been killed in Damascus.
OPCW to investigate allegations of chlorine use
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Tuesday that it would undertake, with agreement from the Syrian government, a fact-finding mission to investigateallegations of chlorine gas attacks in several locations in Outer Damascus, Hama and Idlib in the month of April. The Syrian government, which has agreed to accept this mission, has undertaken to provide security in areas under its control,” reads the OPCW’s Tuesday press release. “The mission will carry out its work in the most challenging circumstances.” The announcement comes five days after the OPCW praised Damascus for facilitating the removal of 92.5 percent of the country’s chemical stockpiles.  American and French officials last week cited “indications” and “credible evidence” that chlorine had been used in the Hama town of Kafr Zeita on April 11. The use of chlorine gas as a weapon is illegal under international law, but the substance was not specified on the list of chemical agents to be surrendered by the Syrian government under the terms of a September 2013 agreement.