咸电
2019-07-15 06:11:13

Summary

Here's a summary of today's events:

Syria

The group were also filmed burning a statue of Hafez al-Assad in the town of Tabaqa, to the south of the dam, after government troops fled, according to opposition activists.

President Assad suggested the League was involved in a foreign conspiracy against his country. International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi encouraged the opposition to continue to pursue talks.

Residents and activists said the army sent armoured reinforcements to Jobar.

Several aid vehicles were damaged in the blast.

  The number of refugees , according to spokesman Adrian Edwards.

Tunisia

. The secular CPR party said it would stay in the coalition for another week to give talks a chance, he said.

Egypt

protest marks the second anniversary of the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Updated

Turkish border blast

The death toll from the apparent car-bomb explosion in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli has increased to nine, citing the local mayor.

A Syrian-registered car is believed to have been at the centre of the blast on Turkish soil, local mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told the NTV news channel.

Dozens of ambulances were dispatched to the scene at the Cilvegozu border crossing near the town of Reyhanli in the southern province of Hatay.

An official from the Turkish foreign ministry confirmed the deadly explosion, adding that the blast triggered a fire that damaged around 15 humanitarian aid vehicles.

The explosion happened barely 40 metres away from the Cilvegozu crossing, NTV reported, adding that it might have been caused by a mortar bomb fired from the Syrian side.

The Cilvegozu border crossing between Turkey and Syria in Hatay after nine people were killed and dozens wounded when a car exploded, damaging 15 humanitarian aid vehicles nearby. The explosion happened barely 40 metres from the crossing.
The Cilvegozu border crossing between Turkey and Syria in Hatay after nine people were killed and dozens wounded when a car exploded, damaging 15 humanitarian aid vehicles nearby. The explosion happened barely 40 metres from the crossing. Photograph: Cem GencoAFP/Getty Images

The bombing could not have come at a worse time for Turkey's ruling AKP, writes analyst Aaron Stein.

In an email, Stein who works at the Istanbul-based thinktank the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy, writes:

The unpopularity of the AKP's policy on has forced prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to switch from a policy of loud interventionist tinged rhetoric, to simply chastising the west for its hands-off approach.

This latest incident will force the prime minister to address the mounting violence in Syria, which will in turn draw fire from critics for his failure to implement a workable Syria policy.

This will distract from more pressing local issues that Erdogan and the AKP are currently in the process of trying to implement. Erdogan is gearing up for the release of an AKP written constitution that is likely to have a clause for a directly elected, and perhaps further empowered, presidency. They need to protect their political flanks from the likely backlash from Turkey's very weak, but very vocal, Republican People's Party.

The border incident will surely lead to a loud condemnation, but escalation remains unlikely at this time. Erdogan is going to want to change the subject as quickly as possible. The longer the news stays focused on Syria, the more ammunition his critics will have to come after him.

Updated

Syrian refugee's story

Um Muhammed, one of more 200,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan is haunted by the deaths of her husband and eldest son, and now longs to return to Homs.

She told her story to Mona Mahmood:

I used to live in the Baba Siba’a district of Homs with my husband and four children. My husband was an electrician and he earned a living by repairing TVs, washing machines and radios for our neighbours.

Soon after the revolution broke out, my eldest son, Muhammed, decided to join the Free Syrian Army to fight against the regime, but my husband did not.

In one of the raids conducted by government on Bab Siba'a, more than 15 soldiers stormed our house looking for my son and for weapons hidden in the house. They got hold of my husband, who was trying to tell them that we did not have any weapons and did not know where was our son. The soldiers shot him at the front door of the house and when my son came to find out what was going on, he was killed too.

We were only allowed to bury their bodies at night in a hurried ceremony.

I decided to flee Homs for Damascus but it was no better there. Rockets or bombs were falling every hour, and my money had run out. So I decided to come to Jordan with my three children.

When we reached the Za’atari camp we were granted a tent and a food ration card for wheat, sugar and oil.

I was very low. I was haunted by the killing of my son and husband and daily life in the camp was a real hardship. I accepted my fate until last month’s blizzard hit the camp and my tent collapsed.

I was covered in only a blanket with my children. We were waiting in the open air for a new tent. One of the Syrian families who live in Mafraq city in Jordan offered us a place to stay until the weather improved.

Soon afterwards, a Jordanian family in Amman offered us a room in their house and they promised to help me with all my expenses until I get back to Syria.

I feel much better now being out of Za'atari camp. I could not even wash my face in the camp because the bathrooms were so far away, and the queues for shower were so long.

Now, my 16-year-old daughter has enrolled at school, and her expenses are funded by the Jordanian family I live with. They also got me a TV to follow the news in Syria.

I feel optimistic when I hear that the FSA have liberated more areas in Syria and that they have even reached Damascus. I feel my son and husband did not die in vain.

It also gives me the hope that we will go back to our house in Homs.

Syrian refugees fetch water at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
Syrian refugees fetch water at the the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Updated

Assad criticises Arab League

President has railed again against foreign plots and appears to be in no mood to negotiate with the opposition.

His latest remarks appear aimed at the Arab League.

The as saying that Syria "will not relinquish its principles no matter how much pressure is exerted upon it and regardless of the conspiracies that not only target Syria, but also all Arabs".

The Arab League held meetings with the opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib, his deputy Riad Saif, and Syria's former prime minister Riad Hijab in Cairo today.

After the talks Khatib said the Assad regime had not responded to conditional offer of talks, Reuters reports.

"The regime has not given a clear answer so far, clearly, frankly, that it accepts leaving to spare destruction and blood," he told reporters in Cairo.

"No meetings have been arranged, and no formal contact with any party has happened so far."

Pressed to say whether his offer was still open despite the timeline he had set, Khatib said: "We are still waiting for the government response and then we are going to study that."

Last week Khatib told the BBC that the Syria government must release thousands of women prisoners by Sunday or he would consider his offer to have been rejected.

During today's talks at the Arab League Hijab is reported to have .

Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi  met former Syrian prime minister Riyad Farid Hijab  in Cairo on Monday. Hijab served as prime minister of Syria under President Bashar al-Assad from June to August 2012, before defecting to the rebel side of the Syrian conflict.  EPA/STR
Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi met former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab in Cairo on Monday. Hijab served as prime minister of Syria under President Bashar al-Assad from June to August 2012, before defecting to the rebel side of the Syrian conflict. EPA/STR Photograph: STR/EPA

He also denied reports of divisions in the opposition over Khatib's call for dialogue with the regime, according to al-Jazeera's Rawya Rageh.

Rawya Rageh (@RawyaRageh)

Riyad Hijab in a few mins ago saying no divisions in oppstn

Updated

Turkish border explosion

At least one person was killed when a vehicle exploded at a border crossing on Turkey's border with  near the Turkish town of Reyhanli on Monday, .

"It was not an air strike. The explosion came from a car but we cannot yet confirm what caused it. There are definitely dead and wounded," the official told Reuters.

AFP said , citing the local mayor Huseyin Sanverdi.

Euphrates Dam

Rebel forces, largely from the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra, are in control of the Euphrates dam at al-Tabaqa, according to Mataz Suheil, spokesman for the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Government forces withdrew from al-Tabaqa after a minimal fight, he reported, citing activists in the area.

he said:

The main security installations have been taken over by the rebel fighters who consist mainly of al-Nusra forces - the jihadi organisation outlawed by the United States. So far the main officers from the security forces have fled [in] helicopters to a nearby military airport.

The dam is now in the control of the rebel fighters, but the command centre is run still by civilian workers.

Suheil outlined the significance of the hydroelectric dam, believed to be the largest of its kind in Syria.

This is a massive blow for the regime because this dam is strategically important for energy and for agriculture. It would be a massive blow for Syria’s economy and Syria’s future if this area were to be turned into a front for the clashes.

purported to show the operations room of the dam. 

Updated

Damascus

Government troops are fighting rebels for control of an area just east of Damascus city centre, Reuters reports.

Residents and activists said the army sent armoured reinforcements to Jobar, a Sunni Muslim district adjacent to the city's landmark Abbasin Square after rebels took over a loyalist position in the area, the third since fighters pushed into Jobar last week, they said.

However, Assad's forces remained well dug in in the centre.

"The main battle is taking place in Jobar," an opposition activist in Damascus named Amer said. "The rebels appear to be advancing in the eastern sector. But the centre of Damascus is crisscrossed with concrete barriers and security is deployed everywhere; we cannot say that they (the rebels) have a real active present in the centre."

He said the army appeared to be under so much pressure in Jobar that it had moved tanks there from the southwestern suburb of Daraya, near the highway to the Jordanian border, where it has been battling rebels for two months.

A video posted by a group known as Liwa al-Islam, one of the opposition fighting units around Damascus, showed its members (35 miles), an apparent marked improvement in the arsenal of the opposition.

Sham News Network, an opposition group of media activists, said rebels overran an army barracks in Jobar and had attacked a roadblock in Afif neighbourhood overnight. Afif is located near one of Assad's presidential compounds in the foothills of Qasioun Mountain, northwest of the city.

Activists also reported a mortar attack on a police station in the central Damascus neighbourhood of Arnous. It was not clear whether the mortars hit the target or if there were casualties.
"The situation is getting very tough. For the first time we have been hearing mortars fall so close," said a woman who lives in the western neighbourhood of Mezze.

Aron Lund, an expert on jihadi groups fighting in Syria, confirms that the insurgency is growing in Damascus, but it is . 

In a guest post on Syria Comment, he writes:

The current situation is that you have no strong Islamist alliance in the Damascus region, but several small ones, scattered all over the city map ...

In other words: the Damascus insurgency is growing and will eventually overpower the prevailing order, but organisationally, it’s a total mess. These movements all seem to be cooperating pretty well on the ground – rebel infighting is surprisingly rare in Syria so far, which I think is one of few encouraging signs. But they are likely to become more competitive as time passes, resources become scarce, and the power vacuum grows.

Updated

Rebels seize dam

Jihadi fighters have now seized control of the al-Furat dam, according to video footage and the British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

showed deserted administrative offices on the dam.

Rebels from al-Qaida linked Jabhat al-Nusra have also taken control of the town of al-Thawra (or Tabaqa) to the south (). The Observatory claimed troops guarding the dam fled in a helicopter.

Egypt

to mark the second anniversary of the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak, AFP reports.

Authorities have boosted security around the presidential palace, the interior ministry and around Tahrir Square, as well as around key public installations, the official said.

Marches are due to set off at 5.00 pm (1500 GMT) from several locations in the capital towards Tahrir -- the epicentre of protests that toppled Mubarak-- and the presidential palace where violent, sometimes deadly, protests have been staged against Islamist President .

"There will also be extra security around the main metro stations after some groups threatened to block the tracks," the official said.

Opposition parties and movements have called for a day of action, demanding Morsi fulfil the goals of the revolution that brought him and his long-banned movement, the , to power.

Egyptian Twitter user the Big Pharaoh sums up the views of the many planning to protest.

The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh)

Mubarak fell, the regime persists. It just grew a beard though.

Updated

Al-Furat dam

Syrian rebels from the , according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said clashes are taking place at the al-Furat dam on the Euphrates river in the north-eastern province of Raqqa.

Jihadists are likely to take control of the dam in the next few hours, it said.

The Observatory posted this video of fighting in the area.

The fall of a, according to AP.

Jihadist fighters were also filmed burning a statue of Hafez al-Assad in the town of Tabaqa, south of the dam.

The dam and the town of .

Updated

Diplomacy on Syria

Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy on Syria, has urged opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib to continue attempts to offer conditional talks with representatives of the Assad government.

Khatib's .

But after meeting members of the coalition in Cairo on Sunday Brahimi said he

The talks in Cairo were aimed at clarifying the coalition's approach to negotiations with the regime. The group has yet to announce any such clarification. It did issue a statement attributed to Khatib, stressing the

The language used continues to fudge the issue. Many members of the coalition are opposed to negotiations without a prior commitment from Assad that he will stand down.

Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Araby met with UN-Arab League international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Sunday.
Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Araby met with UN-Arab League international Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Sunday. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP

Updated

Summary

Welcome to Middle East Live.

Here's a roundup of the latest developments:

Syria

The aim of the talks would be to find a way for Assad to leave power with the "minimum of bloodshed and destruction", Khatib said in a statement published on his page. It read:

If the regime is so concerned about sovereignty and does not want to venture out of Syrian territories, then there is a suitable solution, which is the liberated land in northern Syria. There is an important question. Will the regime agree to leave with the minimum of blood and destruction?

Khatib also said the regime missed a "rare opportunity" by not agreeing to release women prisoners by a deadline he had set for Sunday, but that he was compelled morally to continue to try to negotiate a peaceful exit for Assad.

In a TV interview Mekdad suggested the Syrian opposition's western backers were turning to political dialogue because armed resistance had failed.

The number of refugees , according to spokesman Adrian Edwards.