Syrian Weekly Brief: 18 - 24 February 2013

Top Stories
Death toll spikes as violence keeps escalating: Thursday’s car bomb explosion in Damascus was one of deadliest in Syria’s two-year conflict. The repeated Scud missile attacks on Aleppo left hundreds of people dead and wounded while the continued shelling left hundreds others dead and wounded across the country bringing this week’s death toll to more than 1500 including 179 children.
Syrian opposition takes bold steps: The Syrian National Coalition said it will boycott peace talks in protest at what it called the "shameful" failure of the international community to stop the war in Syria. The coalition also announced its intention to form a government which will govern the areas of Syria that have been liberated. Plans by Syria's opposition to form a government in rebel-held zones would bolster its global credibility, experts said.
Regime army declines: Units from the Syrian military have withdrawn from the Israeli border region and moved towards Damascus to support the declining military force securing the capital.
Uprising Developments
Rebels make significant gains: Rebel fighters continued to strike regime positions in the heart of Damascus and made strategic gains capturing strategic military posts in Deir Azzour, Hasaka, Raqqa and Aleppo.
Humanitarian crisis dramatically deteriorating: UN agencies have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in Syria, as an estimated four million people there are in need of assistance while there are now more than 900,000 refugees who've fled to neighbouring countries. Typhoid has broken out in Deir Azzour, the UN said that the humanitarian response remained underfunded and the Red Cross urged bigger support to the Syrian people.
Tensions rise on Syria-Lebanon border: Syrian rebels on Tuesday threatened to carry out attacks against Hezbollah inside Lebanon. FSA said that one of its battalions targeted Hezbollah bases as they blamed it for the escalating tensions. Hezbollah on Sunday announced that it will not neglect the issue of protecting Lebanese residents who live in border towns inside Syria the thing which will raise tensions between the two countries.
Oil crisis exacerbates: Syria suffers from a serious inability to provide oil and its derivatives to its citizens. With oil's increasing scarcity, diesel oil prices have soared, with prices reaching double or quadruple the official price.

Rental prices increase: According to several real estate brokers, rental rates are now between 100 and 200 percent higher than their levels prior to the uprising in the central parts of the Syrian capital.
International Reactions
Arms embargo renewed: European countries decided to roll over their arms embargo on Syria for another three months on Monday. Qatar criticized EU over the renewed embargo. However, there has been a new influx of weapons to rebels according to Arab and rebel officials.
Calls for war crimes trial renewed: UN investigators said on Monday that they have identified Syrians in "leadership positions" who should be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Russia as always opposed this move, adding that such a move would obstruct efforts to stop the violence.
US-Russia relations falter on Syria: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Friday of having double standards on Syria, the US said the charge was not a “fair” description of Washington’s actions.
Syrian Press Focus
Brahimi can not understand: The Syrian media quoted an unidentified media source as saying that UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, cannot understand the Syrian logic which puts the “concept of sovereignty” above any other concept and consideration.
Iran condemns “support of terrorism”: The Syrian media covered comments made by Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi on Tuesday condemning the stances of some countries over what he described “continuing support to terrorism in Syria.”


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