Executive Summary for April 1st

To give you an overview of the latest news, we’ve organized the latest Syrian developments in a curated summary.

Published on April 1, 2015 Read time Approx. 4 minutes

ISIS Attacks Syrian Village Near Hama, Killing Dozens

Islamic State militants have killed at least 49 people, including children and women, in an attack on a government-held village in central Syria, AP reports.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS militants had killed Alawite, Ismaili and Sunni residents of Mabouja by “burning, beheading, and firing on them.”

Director of the Observatory, Rami Abdulrahman, said that many people were still missing but it was unclear if they had been kidnapped by the militant group.

Syrian state television put the number killed at 44 and a Syrian military source said the attack was repelled by the army.

Mabouja has a mixed population that includes Alawites and Ismailis, sects deemed heretical by the radical branch of Islam embraced by ISIS, said Rami Abdulrahman.

Tuesday’s assault was the latest by the militant group, which has mounted numerous attacks in government-held areas in the central provinces of Homs and Hama, where Mabouja is located.

The village of Mabouja is located near a key road that serves as the government’s only link between Homs province, to the south, and the northern province of Aleppo. “Daesh [ISIS] is making a lot of attempts [to advance] east of Hama. It is trying a lot in that area, particularly after its loss in Shaar field,” said a Syrian military source, referring to a gas field in Homs province reclaimed by the government in recent months, Al Jazeera writes.

ISIS has been moving westward across Syria in a bid to eventually take Salamiyah, a town east of Hama city.

An Islamic State fighter told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the Hama campaign aimed eventually to take Salamiyah.

“The ultimate goal is to liberate Salamiyah and Hama but it will not happen before Islamic State is 100 percent ready,” the fighter said last week.

Donor Pledges of $3.8 Billion Falls Short of U.N. Target Appeal

International donors at a major summit pledged $3.8 billion on Tuesday in humanitarian aid to Syria, less than half of what the United Nations had requested in an appeal to help tackle the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, Reuters reports.

Nearly 80 governments and 40 aid agencies met in Kuwait on Tuesday for a U.N. aid summit that aimed to secure pledges toward an $8.4 billion appeal for Syria.

“The Syrian people are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his address to the Third International Pledging Conference for Syria.

“They are not asking for sympathy, they are asking for help,” he added.

As the meeting got underway, U.N. special envoy for humanitarian affairs Abdullah al-Maatuq said failure to meet the required funds “risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe.”

The largest single pledge – $507 million – came from the U.S., while host Kuwait pledged $500 million. The E.U. pledged nearly $1.2 billion (double the amount offered by the bloc last year), the United Arab Emirates $100 million and Saudi Arabia $60 million.

The aid agency says $2.9 billion is needed for Syrians inside their country, while nearly $5.5 billion is required for countries struggling to host refugees.

According to U.N. figures, some 12.2 million people inside Syria are in desperate need of assistance, while more than 3.9 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Ban told participants at the meeting in Kuwait that four out of five people in Syria were living in “poverty, misery and deprivation. The country has lost nearly four decades of human development.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned of an “unsustainable” situation.

“After four years of conflict, we are at a tipping point. It is clear that the world’s response to the crisis in Syria cannot be business as usual. The situation is becoming unsustainable,” he said.

Last year was the deadliest year in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 215,000 since it began in March 2011, AP writes.

Foreign Fighters Traveling to Syria Post Risk for Future Attacks

“More than 25,000 foreign fighters from some 100 countries are linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State, with Syria and Iraq comprising a “veritable international finishing school for extremists,” U.N. experts reported to the U.N. Security Council.

At a meeting of the Security Council last year, the experts were tasked to report within six months on the threat posed by foreign fighters joining the Islamic State and other al-Qaida-linked groups.

The experts claim, in a report seen by Reuters, that nearly 22,000 foreign fighters are in Syria and Iraq, with nearly 6,500 in Afghanistan and hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.

“For the thousands of (foreign fighters) who traveled to the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq … they live and work in a veritable ‘international finishing school’ for extremists as it was in the case in Afghanistan during the 1990s,” the experts claim.

They also warned of a medium-term threat from the new generation of foreign fighters through “plug and play social networks for future attack planning – linking diverse foreign fighters from different communities across the globe.”

“It also said an unintended consequence of defeating Islamic State in Syria and Iraq could be the scattering of violent foreign fighters across the world,” Reuters reports.

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Photo Courtesy of AP Images

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