Syria: southern ceasefire breaking down
Fighting has erupted again in the southern Syrian town of Daraa, where an opposition-controlled neighborhood is resisting pressure to disarm. Assad regime forces placed the area, Daraa al-Balad, under military siege in late June, and later escalated to intermittent shelling of the enclave. A new ceasefire was brokered by pro-regime Russian forces over the weekend, under which the opposition forces were to begin the process of disarming but maintain some autonomy within the district. However, the ceasefire broke down almost immediately—allegedly due to violations by Iran-backed militias fighting for the regime. Shelling of the neighborhood has since resumed. The UN relief agency UNRWA has especially expressed concern for the some 3,000 Palestinian refugees living in a camp within the besieged area. UNRWA reports that water and electricity are completely cut off inside the camp. (Middle East Monitor, Daily Sabah, Daily Sabah, Reliefweb)
Meanwhile, signs of renewed armed struggle emerge from within regime-controlled Syria. On Aug. 4, two were killed, inlcuding a member of the elite Republican Guards, when a bus carrying military troops was targeted in a bomb blast just outside a base in Damascus. While the opposition forces under siege in Daraa are secularist in their orientation, this blast was claimed a jihadist faction, Huras al-Din, supposedly linked to al-Qaeda. (EA Worldview)
Bombing of military bus jolts Damascus
The two roadside bombs detonated under a bridge in a busy hub of the Syrian capital Damascus, hitting a military bus and killing at least 14 people. It is being called the latest sign that despite the Assad government’s recent push for normalization of the regime, Syria's civil war is not over. (PRI)
US drone kills al-Qaeda leader in Syria: report
Abdul Hamid al-Matar, identified as a "senior al-Qaeda leader" was killed in a US drone strike in northwest Syria, the Pentagon announced Oct. 22. The strike comes two days after the US outpost at at-Tanf, on the Jordanian border, came under "deliberate and coordinated" attack utilizing drones.
An exact location for the new drone strike was not given. In September, the Pentagon also conducted a strike in Idlib province, killing another supposed al-Qaeda leader, Salim Abu-Ahmad. (Al Jazeera, CNN)