Syria says Israeli attack puts Aleppo airport out of service
An Israeli air attack put Syria’s Aleppo airport out of service on Monday, the Syrian defence ministry said, while regional intelligence sources said an Iranian arms depot was hit.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack … targeting Aleppo International Airport. The aggression caused material damage to the airport’s runway and put it out of service,” a military source said.
But Reuters says that the Israeli military declined to comment.
Two regional intelligence sources said the attack targeted an underground munitions depot run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps within the compound of Nairab military airport next to Aleppo airport.
Nairab military airport, which has been used regularly for Iranian arms deliveries and the movement of troops, was repeatedly hit by Israel in previous strikes, they said.
Israel has intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases in particular to disrupt Iran’s use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to its allies, including Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has also deployed fighters to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran’s militias led by Hezbollah have a strong foothold in Aleppo province, where they maintain several major bases and extensively support paramilitary groups that operate there.
Damascus denies allegations that Iran, whose top military officials frequently visit Syria and have signed deals to supply advanced weapons, has an extensive presence in the country, saying they only have military advisers who help its armed forces.
Syrian protests enter second week with calls for Assad to go
Protesters gathered in the southern city of Suweida on Monday, closing provincial roads. The province of Suweida has remained under government control since Syria’s 2011 uprising and is home to much of the country’s Druze minority, The Guardian reported.
Video shared by the activist-led organization Suweida24 showed several hundred people gathered in a central square waving Druze flags and chanting “Long live Syria, and down with Bashar al-Assad”.
Another video circulating online showed activists chanting on Sunday evening after welding shut the doors of a branch of the ruling Ba’ath party in the town of Melh in the east of Suweida province. One protester explained that they targeted the building due to its role in suppressing previous protests calling for an increase in basic services such as water and electricity.
He then directed his cries towards the Syrian president, who has worked to stamp out all dissent since protests against his rule first erupted in 2011. “From Melh we call on you, Bashar al-Assad … we say leave, we don’t want you, you’re going to fall.”
He added: “You have two options: either you leave with your dignity, or you are destined to die.”
Protests spurred by a rise in fuel prices and anger at economic corruption and mismanagement quickly morphed into anti-government demonstrations, including repeated calls for Assad to leave. Demonstrations have grown steadily throughout Syria’s south.
In Suweida, people held signs citing a UN Security Council resolution demanding a transitional government, or calling for the release of thousands who have been forcibly disappeared by the Syrian security apparatus since protests first gripped the country 12 years ago.
“Suweida hasn’t witnessed a civil strike and movement like this before. People don’t want reforms. This regime is not able to provide people with any of their needs,” said Rayan Marouf, the exiled head of Suweida24.
“These protests have awakened hope in Syrians. Their demands are clear, and no one is making economic demands. People in Suweida also protested over the past few years and nothing changed.”
The demonstrations in majority Druze areas, which have drawn support from local clerics and other groups in the area, like Bedouin, represent a further blow to the Assad regime, which has long touted its defence of the country’s minorities.
The government has offered little comment on the protests, apart from the state’s head of reconciliation, Omar Rahmoun, who posted on social media to accuse protesters of acting as a conduit for extremist groups.
Project announced for local administration of Syria’s Suweida
A group of retired officers announced on Sunday evening an administration project in Suweida and its countryside by establishing a provisional council and a military committee after shutting all government institutions in Suweida Governorate, southern Syria.
North Press reported that retired Brigadier General, Nayef al-Aqel, issued a statement after meeting with Hikmat al-Hajiri, leader of the Druze al-Muwahhidun, involving eight articles on organizing work and administering the governorate.
One of the articles stated to establish a specialized body consisting of all communities of Suweida and confirmed the unity of Syrian territories.
One of the statement’s articles stressed on establishing a military council under the supervision of Brigadier General Nayef al-Aqel to unite the factions and supervise their operations to achieve social security across all Suweida.
Another article stipulated withdrawing confidence from the members of People’s Assembly (Syrian Parliament) and local administration representing Suweida. The article also stated to establish a temporary administration council to manage the governorate’s affairs.
The retired officers called for opening a border crossing with Jordan to promote economic development in Suweida.
The statement was supported and approved by al-Hajiri. The protestors have not yet declared their position about the statement.
Jordan Downs Drone from Syria in Third Incident this Month
Asharq Al Awsat reports that the Jordanian army downed a drone heading from Syria in the third such incident this month.
The army said in a statement that the drone was brought down in its territory but did not say what it was carrying.
The Jordanian army published two photos of the downed drones, according to the Arab World Press.
Meet Syria’s newest peaceful opposition group: The August 10th Movement
A new opposition group has been launched in Syria, “The 10th of August Movement”, emphasising peaceful, non-sectarian resistance and the eventual ousting of the Bashar Al-Assad regime.
According to The New Arab, the 10th of August Movement, which says it has thousands of members within regime-held areas, promises that it is a new type of Syrian opposition, having learned from the violent aftermath of the 2011 Syrian uprising.
The movement is decentralized, online and primarily led by Syrian youth. It is attempting to give a voice to those who “don’t have a voice in the current Syrian picture,” Youssef Wannous, a spokesperson for the movement, told The New Arab under a pseudonym.
The movement, primarily led by Syrian youth, operates online and focuses on building political consciousness among the Syrian people. It seeks to avoid street protests until it gains enough support to prevent violent suppression by the regime.
The movement’s core demand is for dignity and a way out of Syria’s economic crisis. It began in Latakia but has spread throughout the country, with decentralized cells in every city under regime control. The movement aims to bridge divisions among Syrians and has gained support from some within the security services.
It is linked with other underground opposition groups and faces challenges from the regime’s security services. Despite a culture of fear, the movement receives both threats and support through private messages from Syrians.