Hundreds Die in Syria’s Deadliest Month
The BBC reports that the past month has been the deadliest for Syria, as global attention shifts to conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.
“Observers suggest that more than 700 people were killed in fighting between government forces and Isis rebels around Homs on Thursday and Friday last week: that’s more than in any other two-day period in Syria’s entire civil war,” writes James Reynolds.
“In the capital Damascus, observers report the most intense fighting for many months. This week, the government has carried out airstrikes against rebels in the eastern Jobar neighborhood. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have aimed to retake a checkpoint seized by rebels a week ago. President Assad’s forces continue to take advantage of the divisions that have split the opposition. In several areas, rebel groups fight each other.”
Life in Raqqa, the Jihadist Capital: Order With a Darker Side
The New York Times reports on life in Raqqa under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“Long before extremists rolled through Iraq and seized a large piece of territory, the group … took over most of Raqqa Province, home to about a million people, and established a headquarters in its capital,” it writes. “Through strategic management and brute force, the group, which now calls itself simply the Islamic State, has begun imposing its vision of a state that blends its fundamentalist interpretation of Islam with the practicalities of governance.”
When his factory was bombed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, a businessman who spoke to the Times “considered two bleak options: remain at home and risk dying in the next airstrike, or flee like hundreds of thousands of others to a refugee camp in Turkey. Instead, he took his remaining cash east and moved to Raqqa, the de facto capital of the world’s fastest growing jihadist force. There he found a degree of order and security absent in other parts of Syria.”
Syria Says It Hopes New Mediator Will Be Fair
Reuters reports that the Syrian government has urged the U.N.’s newly appointed international mediator to be “objective and honest” as he seeks to moderate an end to the country’s four-year conflict.
“It was Damascus’s first reaction to the appointment of Staffan de Mistura by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon two weeks ago, shortly after President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected in a June 3 poll,” the wire reports. “A U.N. official for 30 years, he replaces Lakhdar Brahimi, who stepped down in May, frustrated by global deadlock over how to resolve the more than three-year conflict.”
In a newsflash, Syrian state television said: “We hope that he will take an objective and honest approach based on international law … particularly the respect of the national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs.” It cited a letter the foreign ministry sent to the U.N., calling on Mistura to have “respect for the choices of the Syrian people.”
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