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CrisisWatch Database

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Syria

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura early Nov launched initiative to establish “freeze” in battle between regime and opposition in Aleppo. Observers predicted low chance of success: regime described as lacking incentives for deal, seeing status quo as beneficial; initiative criticised by opposition, citing tendency of past local ceasefires to benefit regime by cementing military victories, freeing up resources for advances on other fronts. Syrian FM Moallem 27 Nov claimed govt, Russia, both supporting proposal. Deadly regime airstrikes continued in Aleppo city, including at least twenty civilians reported killed in rebel-held areas 6 Nov; at least 21 reported killed in town held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) north east of city 9 Nov. Al-Qaeda (AQ)-linked Jabhat al-Nusra advanced in fight against other rebels, including Western-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front: early month reportedly captured several towns and villages in Idlib province, including Deir Sinbel and Khan al-Subul 1-2 Nov. Rebels continued advancing in south; observers described strategic impact as limited in absence of U.S. decision to increase cross-border flow of arms from Jordan. U.S.-led airstrikes targeting IS and AQ-linked militants continued: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights NGO 22 Nov said 910 killed, including 52 civilians, in coalition airstrikes since beginning of campaign late Oct; at least 50 militants reported killed in clashes, airstrikes in Kurdish city of Kobani 29-30 Nov. Almost 100 reported killed in regime airstrikes on IS-held Raqqah city 25 Nov.

Lebanon

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Sectarian tensions continued following late Oct clashes between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), Sunni militants in Tripoli; LAF operation criticised for fuelling Sunni suspicions that army has allied with Hezbollah against Sunnis, due to indiscriminate LAF raids on homes of Sunni Islamists and Syrian refugees, destruction of impoverished Sunni neighbourhoods during fighting. Observers criticised military-based approach for leaving deep-rooted political and socio-economic grievances unaddressed, heightening risks of radicalisation among some Lebanese and Syrian Sunnis. Parliament 5 Nov extended its own mandate to 2017 citing security concerns linked to Syria conflict.

Syria

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

U.S.-led airstrikes expanded despite continued lack of coherent strategy; over 500 jihadis, dozens of civilians reported killed since late Sept. U.S. mid-month increased air support for Kurdish forces, anti-regime rebels defending Kurdish city of Kobani after media uproar over attempts by Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants to capture city; U.S. failed to strike IS fighters heading to Kobani in preceding days, downplayed battle’s importance. U.S. escalated pressure on Turkey to increase cooperation with anti-IS coalition; Turkey resisted, citing need for U.S. to address continued rule of President Assad. Turkey renewed calls for no-fly zone in northern Syria, blocked fighters and weapons from crossing border to assist Kurdish forces in Kobani before allowing up to 200 Kurdish peshmerga fighters equipped with heavy weapons to travel from northern Iraq to Kobani late month. U.S. commitment of resources toward moderate rebels remained limited despite rhetoric; rebels complained of inability to launch offensives against IS without increased U.S. support for fight against regime. Regime bombardment of anti-IS rebels continued in support of advances in Aleppo and Damascus suburbs; dozens reported killed in bombing of IDP camp in Idlib province 29 Oct. Regime 23 Oct recaptured central town of Morek in Hama province. Clashes between regime and IS fighters continued including scores reported killed in IS attack on regime-held gas field east of Homs 28 Oct. More than 40 children reported killed in twin suicide bombings targeting primary school in regime-controlled Homs city 1 Oct.

Lebanon

  |  1 Nov 2014

Deteriorated

Continued fighting between Syrian rebels and Hizbollah, Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in north-eastern border areas: Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) attacks on Hizbollah strongholds geographically expanded war of attrition between parties, dozens reported killed 5 Oct in Shiite town of Britel. Clashes between LAF and Sunni militants in Tripoli intensified, including scores reported killed late Oct; fighting expanded to towns in Akkar and Dinniyeh region, LAF carried out raids, arrested tens of alleged “terrorists” in north, Saida and Beirut. Political factions repeatedly declared support for army despite numerous reports of indiscriminate crackdown on Islamist militants and Syrian refugees. Social affairs minister Rashid Derbas 20 Oct warned govt will soon adopt policy halting further refugee inflows from Syria.

Syria

  |  1 Oct 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

U.S. late month began airstrikes against Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants and fighters linked to al-Qaeda (AQ) central leadership and AQ affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) inside Syria: dozens of IS fighters reported killed in Raqqah and Deir az-Zour provinces starting 23 Sept; Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE participated in or provided support for operation. Scores reported killed in U.S. strikes targeting AQ-linked fighters in northern Aleppo and Idlib provinces; JN threatened retaliation. Observers expressed fears intervention risks strengthening IS, alienating other rebel groups; IS continued gaining ground, mid-month seized dozens of towns around predominantly Kurdish city Kobani near Turkish border; at least 160,000 Kurds fled, initially refused entry into Turkey sparking protests and clashes inside Turkey. Most of senior leadership of influential Ahrar as-Sham group among dozens killed in unexplained bomb blast in Idlib province 9 Sept; dead included group’s leader Hassan Aboud also acting as political chief of major rebel alliance Islamic Front; deaths seen as heavy blow to mainstream armed opposition. Regime mid-month revealed previously undeclared chemical facilities to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirming suspicions about earlier declarations, fuelling concerns toxic material could be seized by IS. Deadly regime airstrikes on rebel held areas continued including 25 reported killed in IS-held Raqqah city 6 Sept; at least 48 reported killed in Talbiseh north of Homs 16-17 Sept.

Lebanon

  |  1 Oct 2014

Deteriorated

Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants early month beheaded 2 Lebanese soldiers captured along with 8 others during Aug clashes in eastern border town Arsal; al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) reportedly detained 18 others, 19 Sept executed soldier, demanded release of Sunni Islamist imprisoned in Lebanon and Hizbollah withdrawal from Syria. Executions exacerbated ethnic and communal tensions including sparking attacks on Syrian refugees, tit-for-tat abductions between Sunni and Shiite tribes in Bekaa Valley. Hizbollah sought to use events in Arsal to justify involvement in Syria by playing up jihadi threat, rejected any negotiations with IS, JN. 4 Hizbollah members among several casualties reported after clashes outside border village Ras Baalbek 10 Sept; 3 killed in attack on Hizbollah checkpoint near eastern village Khraibeh 20 Sept. Clashes between army and militants continued: Syrian militant killed 6 Sept in border town Al-Qaa; 2 soldiers killed in roadside bombing in Arsal 19 Sept, military subsequently arrested hundreds in raids. Several reported killed 22 Sept in Syrian regime airstrikes targeting rebels near Arsal. Deadly shootings reported in Tripoli late month including soldier killed by unknown gunmen 23 Sept.

Syria

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

Situation continued to worsen for northern armed opposition: regime advance continued in Aleppo, jihadi Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL or ISIS) gained north of city including capturing series of towns; Aleppo’s rebels expressed fears of impending defeat: regime pushing to encircle rebels inside city, IS fighting to recapture additional territory in northern countryside and push further west. Hostilities between regime and IS intensified: regime continued air strikes on IS-held territory near Aleppo and further east, including dozens reported killed in Raqqah city mid-month; IS 8 Aug reportedly captured army base in Raqqah province, scores killed; hundreds reported killed, including in IS mass executions, after several days of fighting concluding in IS capture of Taqba air base, last regime stronghold in Raqqah province, 24 Aug. IS early to mid-month reportedly executed 700 members of al-Sheitat tribe in Deir al-Zour province in response to local uprising against IS rule. Tensions between al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and former rebel allies continued in Idlib province; local JN chief reportedly assassinated 2 Aug. Regime and allied forces continued campaign around Damascus, scores reported killed in air strikes: mid-month seized most of Mleiha town in eastern suburbs after months-long battle; area seen as strategic entry-point to eastern Ghouta, most significant remaining rebel stronghold in greater Damascus. U.S. late month reportedly started surveillance flights following military intervention against IS in Iraq (see Iraq).

Lebanon

  |  1 Sep 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw heavy clashes between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Syrian rebels in border town Arsal, first major Syrian rebel incursion directly challenging LAF: close to 100 soldiers, rebels and civilians reported killed; several soldiers captured by rebels. Fighting sparked by 2 Aug arrest of rebel commander reportedly tied to either al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra or Islamic State (formerly ISIL or ISIS): militants subsequently attacked checkpoints, overran govt and security buildings taking dozens hostage, attempted to take control of parts of Arsal; LAF counteroffensive, aided by Syrian Air Force raids, reclaimed city after 5-day battle. LAF launched series of raids targeting Syrians across country, detained tens of alleged members of extremist groups. Saudi Arabia early month offered $1bn aid to LAF, U.S. later pledged additional arms.

Syria

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged Risk Alert

Month saw northern armed opposition facing most dangerous situation since start of uprising: rival rebel group Islamic State (IS) (formerly ISIL, see Iraq) defeated other rebels and gained territory, oil and manpower in eastern province Deir al-Zour. Regime forces made progress encircling rebels in Aleppo: rebels increasingly disorganised and poorly armed, state backers’ modest increase of support for moderate factions failed to compensate for cuts in funding to allied group Islamic Front. Observers expressed fears moderate opposition setbacks in Aleppo could provide opportunity for IS to recapture ground in city’s northern countryside and push further west. IS and regime forces increasingly drawn into direct confrontation as consequence of respective gains including: IS mid-month reportedly killed hundreds seizing control of gas field east of Homs, seized regime bases in Raqqa and Hassakeh provinces late month. Al-Qaeda linked rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra mid-month indicated intention to establish Islamic emirate of their own: sought to gain ground in Idlib province at expense of other rebels. Exile opposition group Syrian National Coalition (SNC) 9 July elected Hadi al-Bahra President; 22 July voted to dissolve “interim” govt, form new one within 1 month. Staffan de Mistura 10 July appointed UN special envoy to Syria, replacing Lakhdar Brahimi.

Lebanon

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Army “security plan” continued to hold despite presidential, governmental and parliamentary paralysis: security and intelligence measures intensified including checkpoints, raids of houses, and arrests of dozens of Islamists in Arsal, Tripoli, Saida and other areas. Security officials claimed jihadi networks discovered planning suicide attacks against Lebanese officials and civilians; 28 charged with belonging to jihadi group Islamic State (formerly ISIL, see Iraq) 7 July. Continued clashes between Syrian rebels and pro-Syrian regime fighters in eastern border areas: scores reported killed mid- to late month. Cross-border rocket fire from south into Israel mid-month, Israeli forces retaliated with shelling; no casualties reported.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Successor to former President Michel Sleiman still not elected; ministers unable to agree on mechanism for exercising cabinet’s authorities in power vacuum; March 14 alliance boycotted parliament. Army’s “security plan” continued to hold despite several incidents including: 2 police killed, several injured in 3 suicide bombings in Beirut and Bekaa Valley 20-25 June; 2 Palestinians killed in gunfight near Beirut refugee camp 30 June; unknown gunmen 17 June killed soldier in Tripoli. Expatriate voting in Syria’s presidential elections deepened frictions with segments of Lebanese population; some called for expulsion of Syrians, officials declared “security concerns” cause for revoking refugee status of Syrians travelling back to their country.

Syria

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Regime orchestration of President Assad’s 3 June re-election illustrated steady progress in consolidating control of Damascus, Homs and areas in between; Assad reportedly won 88.7% of vote; constitutional court claimed 73% turnout. Regime forces 15 June retook Kasab border town near Turkey, limitations nevertheless visible; fears that return of pro-regime Shia foreign fighters to face Sunni jihadis in Iraq (see Iraq) could deplete pro-regime forces. Northern rebels reported changes in nature of military support, increasing coordination between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey: Turkey’s border controls tightened, Qatar cut backing for Salafi-led Islamic Front; U.S. reportedly modestly increased aid. Observers raised concerns about durability of inter-state cooperation, effect on military balance; 9 senior officers 14 June quit opposition Syrian Military Council over mismanagement, shortage of aid. Scores killed in continued battles between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other rebels in Deir al-Zour: ISIL established control over most of city’s western countryside and key entrance to city; regime control over other entrances left ISIL’s opponents and remaining civilian population effectively encircled. Anti-ISIL militants, including al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, formed new local alliance, Majlas Shura al-Mujahidin, setting aside ideological differences for sake of cooperation. Several regime air strikes hit ISIL targets, including group’s Raqqah HQ 15 June; at least 50 reported killed in regime strikes inside Iraq 24 June. Deadly regime barrel bombings continued, including at least 60 reported killed in Aleppo 16 June. At least 4 killed in Israeli airstrikes 23 June (see Israel-Palestine). Govt handed over remaining declared chemical weapons 23 June; OPCW mid-month reported chlorine gas possibly used in attacks, kept investigation open.

Syria

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Regime and rebel fighters early May struck deal for rebel evacuation from Homs old quarter: hundreds of fighters withdrew to rebel-held areas north of city; army entered central Homs 9 May. Regime accepted agreement on terms it previously rejected; rebels secured withdrawal not achievable by military means. Regime compromise reportedly due to Iranian pressure; at least 1 Iranian citizen among roughly 40 detainees released by Islamic Front rebel alliance as part of deal. At least 39 killed by mortar fire 22 May during rally in support of President Assad’s candidacy in June’s presidential election. Rebel infighting intensified: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gained ground in east; over 200 rebels reported killed in clashes early month in Deir al-Zour, over 100,000 residents fled. Tensions also rose between al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and allied rebel groups: JN early month captured local rebel commander in southern province Daara, sparking clashes; leading groups cooperating with JN, including Islamic Front, 17 May released joint “Honour Covenant” conflicting with several of JN’s positions: rejected affiliation with ‘foreign entities’, welcomed cooperation with external states, avoided overt Islamist language. Several observers including Human Rights Watch, French FM Fabius accused regime of employing chlorine gas in multiple attacks over past months. UN Syria envoy Brahimi resigned 13 May. Russia, China 22 May vetoed UNSC resolution referring Syrian conflict to ICC.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

President Suleiman’s term ended 25 May following repeated failure of parliamentarians to elect successor; March 14 coalition threatened boycott of parliament in absence of new president, ministers attended cabinet session 30 May seeking agreement on rules governing presidential vacuum. Army’s “security plan” continued to contain rising levels of violence, several militants arrested or surrendered throughout month. Thousands demonstrated against worsening economic outlook 14 May. Several wounded in clashes between rival Palestinian groups 12 May in refugee camp in Sidon.

Lebanon

  |  1 May 2014

Improved

Army 1 April started implementing “security plan” brokered by political factions to counter worsening violence, particularly in Tripoli and on Syrian border: set up checkpoints and patrols in tense areas, raided homes of militiamen, seized weapons, arrested several suspects. Reports indicated plan successful in calming violence despite some attacks including: gunmen 8 April shot dead 2 soldiers east of Tripoli; 1 killed in NE 2 April by rocket fire from Syria, claimed by Sunni militants targeting Hizbollah. Complaints against security plan as political elites allegedly protected favoured militiamen; some Sunnis demonstrated against army deployments claiming Sunni communities disproportionately targeted. Concerns also raised about fragility of political truce underpinning plan, failure to address deeper problems including socio-economic grievances, sectarian divisions, issues of political representation. At least 8 reported killed 7 April in fighting between rival Palestinian factions in refugee camp near Sidon. UN reported number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon passed 1 million.

Syria

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Projecting increasing political and military confidence, regime announced presidential election for 3 June, paving way for re-election of President Assad and suggesting diminishing opportunities for compromise to end conflict following failure of Geneva II talks. Assad announced his candidacy 28 April. Regime renewed campaign to seize rebel-held areas of Homs amid steady trickle of rebel surrenders from city’s old quarter; other rebels fought back with numerous deadly car bombings, including at least 100 killed 29 April in twin suicide attack claimed by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Regime continued Qalamoun offensive near Lebanese border seizing several towns, including Rankus and Maalula. Despite regime success in some areas, rebels held recently-captured ground in Latakia province; fought to stalemate in Aleppo; late-month advanced in Daraa province in south. Regime airstrikes and barrel bombings of Aleppo continued with scores of casualties, including at least 29 killed in single neighbourhood 20 April according to SOHR. Rebel infighting continued in east: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 10 April launched attack on Albu Kamal town on Iraqi border; SOHR reported 86 killed in fighting, ISIL’s assault rebuffed by rival rebels. UN mission 24 April said 92.5% of all declared chemical weapons (CW) removed from or destroyed in country; will investigate allegations of renewed CW use involving chlorine gas. Humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate: World Food Programme announced food deliveries reduced due to shortage of funds, less than half of $2.3bn pledged at Jan donor conference delivered; UNSG Ban accused all parties to civil war of blocking aid deliveries, violating international law.

Lebanon

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Continued spillover from Syrian conflict as Syria’s Assad regime intensified fight with Syrian rebels along Lebanese border. Rebel defeat in Syrian town Yabroud 16 March saw refugees and fighters fleeing to Lebanese city Arsal. Hizbollah and local residents blocked roads around city prompting protests, road blockings and tyre burnings by Sunni militants elsewhere in Lebanon. Arsal and other Bekaa Valley areas targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes throughout month. Dozens killed in Tripoli during fighting starting 13 March between supporters of rival parties to Syrian conflict; fighting later spread to Beirut, 1 killed in clashes 23 March. Sunni jihadis continued rocket attacks, car bombings inside Lebanon in retaliation for Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria: 2 killed in suicide bombing in Bekaa Valley 16 March, claimed by Jabhat al-Nusra. 3 soldiers killed 29 March in suicide bombing at army checkpoint in Arsal; 2 civilians killed hours later by soldiers at another checkpoint. Israel held Hizbollah responsible for 14 March bomb targeting Israeli patrol on border, retaliated against group’s positions (see Israel-Palestine). New govt 20 March won confidence vote in parliament.

Syria

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Following Feb breakdown of Geneva II negotiations seeking political resolution to conflict, regime intensified push to secure control over areas bordering Lebanon, part of long-running Qalamoun offensive: with backing of Lebanese Hizbollah seized city of Yabroud 16 March, largest remaining rebel bastion in area; 19 March took village SW of Yabroud, 29 March seized another 2 villages near border. Many rebels fled across border to Lebanon; regime forces 21 March claimed to have killed at least 93 fleeing takeover of Crac des Chevaliers. Rebels meanwhile announced offensive in Latakia province in NW: dozens killed in fighting as rebels captured Kaseb town and border crossing with Turkey; Hial al-Assad, cousin of President Assad and pro-regime militia leader, killed 23 March. Rebels 19 March took prison outside southern city Daraa. Fighting between rebel groups continued: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rejected demands for mediation by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra; mid-month withdrew eastwards, pulling out of Idlib and Latakia provinces, concentrating fighters in eastern Aleppo, Raqqa. More than 50 rebels reported killed after ISIL seized town in Hasakah province in NE 30 March. Govt 15 March missed UN-imposed deadline for destroying chemical weapons (CW) production facilities; UN mission overseeing CW removal 20 March said 53.6% of CW removed from or destroyed in Syria. Turkish air force 23 March shot down Syrian plane, saying it crossed into Turkish territory; regime denied crossing border, said Turkey complacent in “terrorism”. Following Feb UNSC resolution to increase aid access, UN aid trucks 20 March entered Syria from Turkey for first time in 3 years; aid entered through regime-held crossing near Qamishli, will be distributed through partners approved by Damascus. Regime continued siege and starvation tactics around Damascus, temporarily resuming siege of Palestinian neighbourhood Yarmouk early March.

Syria

  |  1 Mar 2014

Deteriorated

Second round of Geneva II talks 10-15 Feb failed to generate meaningful discussion on political resolution to conflict or improve humanitarian conditions; govt delegation refused to discuss opposition’s transition plan, emphasising instead need to fight “terrorism”. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) NGO said more killed every day since beginning of talks than any other time during civil war. U.S., Saudi Arabia reportedly reacted to diplomatic breakdown by planning increase of weapons supplies to rebels in south who reorganised into Southern Front, 18 Feb announced spring offensive. Exiled opposition group Syrian National Coalition’s 16 Feb attempt to replace General Selim Idriss as leader of organisation’s military arm rebuffed by regional commanders inside Syria. UNSC 22 Feb adopted resolution to increase aid access to and within Syria, threatening to consider “further steps” in case of non-compliance. Around 1,400 evacuated from besieged old city of Homs beginning 7 Feb following UN-mediated agreement; several hundred males detained and interrogated by govt forces, 91 still held 27 Feb according to governor, at least 11 killed during evacuation by mortar, sniper fire. Rebel infighting continued with jihadi group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conducting assassination campaign against senior leaders of Islamic Front-affiliated groups: 1 Feb killed leaders of Liwa al-Tawhid, Suqour as-Sham in separate suicide bombings; 23 Feb killed senior Ahrar as-Sham commander appointed by al-Qaeda to mediate inter-jihadi conflict. 3 Feb statement by al-Qaeda general command said no organisational links to ISIL, no responsibility for group’s actions. Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra gave ISIL 1 March deadline for accepting mediation or face expulsion from Syria, Iraq. SOHR 27 Feb estimated 3,300 killed in rebel infighting since early Jan. Govt forces gained ground on Aleppo’s NE outskirts taking advantage of rebel infighting; indiscriminate “barrel” bombing campaign continued with hundreds killed. Govt 5 Feb missed UN-endorsed deadline for handing over all chemical weapons stockpiles, accepted new 27 April deadline.

Lebanon

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

New govt formed 15 Feb following 10 months of talks; cabinet split equally between Hizbollah-dominated March 8 coalition, rival March 14 coalition, and ministers appointed by President Suleiman. Sunni jihadis continued suicide bombing campaign in retaliation for Hizbollah and Iranian involvement in Syria; Jabhat al-Nusra claimed 1 Feb attack in eastern Hermel which killed 4, and 22 Feb attack in same town killing 3 including 2 soldiers. Abdullah Azzam (AAB) brigades claimed 19 Feb twin attack outside Iranian cultural centre in Beirut killing 8. March 14 coalition head Saad Hariri 15 Feb urged Hizbollah to end involvement in Syria to avoid “sectarian holocaust”. Gunmen 20 Feb killed senior leader of Arab Democratic Party which favours Syria’s President al-Assad in Tripoli. Lebanese army arrested 2 suspected AAB leaders, uncovered booby-trapped cars in Beirut and Arsal near Syrian border. In latest Israeli targeting of Hizbollah weapons shipment, airstrikes 24 Feb hit Hizbollah position near eastern border with Syria, Hizbollah vowed retaliation.

Lebanon

  |  1 Feb 2014

Deteriorated

Month saw escalation in targeting of Shia neighbourhoods with attacks by radical Sunni groups in retaliation for Hizbollah’s military involvement in Syria. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed car-bombing in S Beirut 2 Jan killing 5; Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) claimed 21 Jan bombing in same neighbourhood killing 4, also 16 Jan bombing in eastern Hermel killing 4, 25 Jan rocket attack jointly with fellow al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), no casualties. Head of AAB died in military custody 4 Jan reportedly of kidney failure. Further clashes in Tripoli between supporters of rival Syrian groups, 5 killed by sniper fire 21 Jan. Rocket fire on Arsal near Syrian border 17 Jan, 7 killed. Amid continued political deadlock over formation of new cabinet, trial over 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri began in The Hague; Hariri’s son Saad Hariri, currently in The Hague attending trial, vowed to return to Lebanon for Nov elections.

Syria

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

First round of long-awaited Geneva II talks produced no agreement on confidence-building measures or allowing aid to besieged areas in Homs, no progress in discussing solution to conflict; next round scheduled for 10 Feb. Opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) agreed to participate, though increasingly in disarray ahead of talks; less than half members 18 Jan voted to attend, over third withdrew from session. Talks began 22 Jan with Syrian govt delegation rejecting SNC demands for President Assad’s removal from power and creation of transitional govt; Assad 19 Jan said “significant” chance he will seek new term in summer 2014 election. In lead-up to talks govt escalated systematic starvation and barrel bombings of rebel-held areas, killing scores. On rebel side clashes between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups intensified after Islamic Front (IF) 1 Jan accused ISIL of killing popular rebel commander and being worse than Assad regime. Opponents of ISIL gained control of most of Idlib province and towns west of Aleppo city; ISIL consolidated presence east of Aleppo and in Raqqa province; fierce fighting continues for control of towns between Aleppo and Turkish border. ISIL 27 Jan rejected reconciliation initiative endorsed by other rebel groups. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 23 Jan estimated nearly 1,400 killed in rebel infighting since beginning of month; UN received reports of “mass executions”. Syria 1 Jan missed UN-endorsed deadline for transfer of “priority chemicals” under Sept resolution, first batch shipped out 7 Jan; only 4.1% reportedly shipped out by end Jan, UNSG Ban 28 Jan called delays unnecessary, U.S. 30 Jan warned Syrian efforts had “seriously languished”. Govt 8 Jan reported 2 rebel attacks on chemical sites, first such report. Unconfirmed reports Israeli air force 26 Jan bombed base in Latakia. U.S. 27 Jan announced resuming deliveries of non-lethal aid to non-armed opposition groups, suspended Dec; Reuters reported U.S. had already resumed delivery via Jordan of light and anti-tank weapons to “moderate” rebel groups in S Syria.

Syria

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Rebel forces in disarray as increasingly powerful Islamist groups moved to marginalise Western-backed militias: largest rebel alliance Islamic Front (IF), created late Nov, 3 Dec rejected authority of Supreme Military Council (SMC), 7 Dec seized SMC arms depots and HQ in Babisqa, 11 Dec captured SMC-controlled Turkey border crossing near Bab el-Hawa; U.S. and UK 11 Dec suspended non-lethal aid to SMC out of fear it could no longer protect equipment provided to it. U.S. Sec State Kerry 17 Dec said U.S. negotiations with IF “possible” to convince its militias to join 22 Jan Geneva II peace talks, IF rejected offer. Following recent losses against Kurdish militias, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) 5 Dec kidnapped over 50 Kurdish civilians from Minbej and Jarablus towns near Aleppo. Month saw most significant clashes yet between ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group. Syrian army and allied militias continued advances in Qalamoun mountains amid rebel disorder: 9 Dec regained control of key Damascus-Homs highway after capture of Nabak, 10 Dec started offensive towards Yabrud, last rebel stronghold in Qalamoun region. IF, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra 11 Dec attacked town of Adra, near Damascus; ISIS beheaded at least 3 Alawites there, pro-regime media accused rebels of killing dozens of Alawite and Druze civilians. Syrian army and allied militias recaptured parts of town 13-16 Dec. Regime’s recent momentum on Aleppo front appearing to lag; army 15 Dec dropped “barrel bombs” on Aleppo, hundreds reported killed; Aleppo activists called scale of raids “unprecedented”. Syrian govt 4 Dec said Assad will lead any transition agreed at Jan Geneva peace talks; opposition National Coalition remains divided on whether to attend talks, to meet early Jan to make final decision. UN rights chief Pillay 2 Dec said “massive evidence” implicates regime in war crimes and crimes against humanity, UN humanitarian chief Amos 3 Dec said govt should allow greater access to trapped civilians.

Lebanon

  |  2 Jan 2014

Deteriorated

Car bomb in Beirut 27 Dec killed senior “March 14” figure and former finance minister Mohammad Chatah and 7 others: March 14 alliance accused Syrian regime and Hizbollah, both denied. Assassination derailed cabinet formation process: March 14 alliance 28 Dec rejected unity govt, called for cabinet excluding Hizbollah. 13 killed, dozens wounded in sectarian clashes between Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods of Tripoli 30 Nov-2 Dec; govt ordered army to preserve security in city. Lebanese troops fired at Syrian military aircraft violating its airspace in Bekaa Valley 30 Dec. Saudi Arabia 29 Dec granted Lebanese army $3bn. President Suleiman 7 Dec again called on Hizbollah to withdraw from Syria, abide by Baabda declaration. Prominent Hizbollah commander Ali Bazzi and 3 militants killed in firefight with Syrian rebels near Nabuk on Syrian Qalamoun front 8 Dec. Gunmen 4 Dec assassinated Hizbollah commander Hassan al-Laqis in Hadath. Armed men and suicide bomber 15 Dec attacked 2 army checkpoints in Sidon, killing 1 soldier; army detained 5 suspects, claimed men part of al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Unidentified militants 29 Dec fired 5 rockets from Hasbaya toward Israel, 2 exploded near Kiryat Shmona; Israel blamed Hizbollah, shelled Rachaya border area in retaliation, no injuries reported. Lebanese sniper 16 Dec killed Israeli soldier on border, army said soldier acted alone (see Israel/Palestine). Residents of Qsar Naba village near Syria 2 Dec torched ad hoc Syrian refugee camp, forced hundreds of refugees from campsite. Authorities arrested head of group that claimed Nov Iranian embassy bombing.

Lebanon

  |  1 Dec 2013

Deteriorated

Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigade claimed 19 Nov suicide bomb outside Iranian embassy in Beirut, aiming to force “Iran’s Hezbollah [to] withdraw from Syria”; 26 killed including Iranian official, 146 injured. Attacks against Alawites continued to multiply in Tripoli, including 2 Nov when Sunni gunmen beat and shot passengers on bus transporting Alawite workers through Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh neighbourhood, wounding 9. Clashes between security forces and gunmen from Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods 30 Nov left 6 dead, Sectarian tensions inflamed after Internal Security Forces (ISF) 4 Nov issued search warrant for Alawite Arab Democratic Party (ADP) members, including General Secretary Ali Eid, charged with helping suspect in Aug Tripoli bombings escape to Syria. Syrian Army 5 Nov stationed troops near Lebanese border close to Eid’s house, allegedly to deter his arrest; ADP leader Rifaat Eid 4 Nov said arrest could trigger civil war, ISF “legitimate” target. Unidentified gunmen 12 Nov killed pro-Syrian Islamic Labor Front member Saad Ghieh in Tripoli. 12,000 Syrian refugees fled into Beqaa Valley border villages 15-19 Nov to escape new offensive by Syrian govt and Hezbollah along border. Syrian army 14 and 19 Nov fired rockets into Arsal in Beqaa Valley, no injuries reported. Hezbollah involvement in Syrian conflict proving major obstacle in attempts at cabinet formation: Future Bloc (FB) leader MP Fouad Siniora 13 Nov said FB would only accept formation of political cabinet if “Hezbollah returns from Syria” or a technocratic cabinet is formed; Hezbollah chief Nasrallah 14 Nov called withdrawal from Syria “impossible condition”.

Syria

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Major military offensives outside Aleppo and Damascus saw govt forces secure supply lines and push back rebels. Govt 1-15 Nov seized Safira, Tel Arn and Tel Hasel towns along Aleppo-Homs supply road and military base near Aleppo airport. Pro-govt forces 7 Nov captured Sbeineh, large rebel enclave S of Damascus; 15 Nov started offensive along Lebanese border in Qalamoun mountains to disrupt rebel supply routes, capturing Qara village 19 Nov, Deir Attiya village 29 Nov. Amid increased disarray among rebel forces divided over brutality and growing influence of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in north, 7 mainstream Islamist rebel groups seeking to counter ISIS 22 Nov agreed to merge into “Islamic Front”. Commander of powerful Liwa al-Tawhid brigade killed in airstrike 18 Nov. Syrian Kurdish militias continued campaign against ISIS and al-Nusra rebels: Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and militia of Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) 4 Nov gained control from rebels over 19 towns and villages in NE. PYD 14 Nov unilaterally declared Syrian Kurdish self-rule over conquered territory, sparking widespread criticism: opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) 14 Nov said PYD “hostile” to Syrian revolution, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Govt President Masoud Barzani accused PYD of “autocracy”. UNSG Ban 25 Nov said Geneva II peace talks to be held 22 Jan. SNC 11 Nov agreed to attend talks with preconditions: govt must create humanitarian corridors and release detainees, Assad to play “no role” in transitional period. Govt 27 Nov said it will attend Geneva talks, but not negotiate handover of power.

Syria

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) 6 Oct began destruction of Syria's chemical weapons (CW) arsenal, 31 Oct stated Syria had destroyed all of its declared CW production/mixing facilities, meeting 1 Nov deadline. U.S. Sec State Kerry and Russian FM Lavrov 7 Oct agreed to press UN to set date for Geneva II peace conference in Nov; Arab League (AL) chief Nabil el-Araby 20 Oct said talks will begin 23 Nov, but UN/AL Special Envoy Brahimi 20 Oct said talks unlikely in absence of “credible” opposition. “Friends of Syria” grouping 22 Oct urged opposition Syrian National Coalition (NC) to participate in Geneva II, called for transitional govt; NC to vote 1 Nov on participation, but largest member Syrian National Council 13 Oct said it will not negotiate before fall of Assad regime, will not attend Geneva II, will quit NC if it participates. Militant groups rejecting Geneva talks, highly critical of prospect of political opposition’s participation. Islamist opposition militia Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued expansion in N and E Syria: ISIL fighters 2 Oct fought rebel militia Northern Storm in Azaz; coalition of militant rebel groups 3 Oct called for immediate ceasefire. ISIL 27 Oct lost Yaaroubiyeh border crossing to Syrian Kurdish militiamen linked to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) 27 Oct. Syrian army, Hizbollah, and Iraqi Shiite militia forces reclaimed key strategic areas and corridors: 3 Oct retook northern town Khanasser from rebels, 7 Oct reopened crucial supply road linking govt-held central area with Aleppo, 9 Oct retook Sheikh Omar suburb of Damascus. 6 ICRC workers and 1 Syrian Red Crescent employee kidnapped 13 Oct by unidentified gunmen in Idlib, 4 released 14 Oct. WHO 29 Oct reported outbreak of polio in Deir al-Zour province.

Lebanon

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Military court 16 Oct charged 7 members of pro-Syrian President Assad Alawite Arab Democracy Party over 23 Aug bombings of Sunni mosques in Tripoli that killed 47, claimed defendants instructed by Syrian intelligence services. Charges triggered renewed clashes between Tripoli’s Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods 16 Oct: violence quickly contained, but reignited 23 Oct after televised interview with Assad, leaving 16 dead, 80 wounded; army deployed to restore order 28 Oct, 1 soldier killed. During interview Assad criticised Lebanese govt for allowing “terrorists” to enter Syria; President Suleiman responded saying Lebanon will continue “disassociation policy” with Syrian conflict. Lebanese Sunni militant Omar Atrash, main suspect in 9 July and 15 Aug Dahiya bombings, killed in ambush in Nehmat, Syria 11 Oct. 8 Syrian rockets hit Lebanese city Hermel in Bekaa valley 21 Oct, 5 rockets hit Wadi Rafi area 22 Oct. Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) 14 Oct issued public arrest warrant for Hassan Merhi, alleged Hizbollah “supporter” and 5th suspect in 2005 assassination of PM Rafiq Hariri. Political deadlock between March 14 and Hizbollah-led March 8 alliance over cabinet formation continued as March 14 rejected March 8 cabinet proposal granting 9 seats to each camp and 6 seats to centrists.

Lebanon

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Army and police deployed in Hizbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut 23 Sept to take over security from Hizbollah militants at checkpoints. Clashes in Tripoli mid-month injured 7, killed 1 amid continued tensions between Alawite and Sunni residents. 5 people killed in clash in Hizbollah stronghold Baalbek in East 28 Sept, security forces deployed to restore calm; followed clash 25 Sept in which several wounded. Several rockets from Syria fell in East mid-Sept wounding 2. European Commission 12 Sept pledged further $77mn to Lebanon to help cope with Syrian refugee influx, now reported to number 759,932 in Lebanon alone. Political deadlock still unresolved: caretaker PM Najib Mikati, MPs from Future Movement and its March 14 allies, and Free Patriotic Movement 23 Sept boycotted parliament session for 5th time, prompting Parliament speaker Berri to postpone it once again.

Syria

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

UN Security Council 27 Sept unanimously passed resolution calling for Syria to destroy chemical weapons (CW) production facilities by Nov and dismantle CW stockpile by mid-2014, and allow full access to inspectors. In case of non-compliance another resolution needed to authorise punitive measures including military force. UNSG Ban called v ote “historic”, announced tentative date for new peace conference in Geneva mid-Nov. President Assad 29 Sept said Syria would abide by resolution. Resolution followed extensive diplomacy between U.S and Russia in wake of 21 Aug CW attack near Damascus. U.S. President Obama 9 Sept delayed U.S. Congress vote authorising military action after Russia proposed placing Syria CW under international control, leading to 14 Sept U.S.-Russia agreement serving as basis for UNSC resolution. UN investigation team 16 Sept released report on Aug Ghouta chemical attack confirming sarin gas was used, conclusions suggest attack launched from regime stronghold. Moscow said investigation biased, received new evidence from Damascus of rebel culpability for attack. UN team inspecting further CW attacks, 3 of which allegedly took place after 21 Aug attack. Regime re-escalated campaign to drive rebels from remaining strongholds in Damascus outskirts. Infighting between rebel factions continued, including clashes in north between al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups; fragile truce between FSA and al-Qaeda branch Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 20 Sept after ISIL captured Azaz town. ISIL mid-Sept killed aid worker affiliated with Salafi group Ahrar al-Sham, prompting criticism from prominent Salafi militants. Syrian National Coalition (NC) pushing to establish provisional govt, 14 Sept elected new interim PM to form 13-minister interim cabinet; 19 Sept reaffirmed willingness to attend Geneva peace talks if goal is establishing transitional govt. Turkish army 16 Sept shot Syrian helicopter violating its airspace.

Syria

  |  1 Sep 2013

Deteriorated

Over 1,300 killed and many injured in reported chemical attack 21 Aug near Damascus, prompting urgent UNSC meeting and calls for investigation. Amid accusations it was behind attack, Assad regime denied responsibility. Attack condemned internationally; Western states discussed possibility of armed intervention: U.S. Sec State Kerry 26 Aug accused regime of “indiscriminate slaughter of civilians”, said evidence of chemical weapons use “undeniable” and warned U.S. would hold regime accountable for “moral obscenity”; President Obama 31 Aug said would seek Congressional approval 9 Sept for military action against select targets. French FM said inaction “unacceptable”. UN investigation team, already stationed in Damascus, investigated attack site 23-28 Aug. 10 children killed, many wounded 29 Aug after incendiary bomb reportedly dropped on school in Aleppo. Al-Qaeda branch Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continued to strengthen position along northern and eastern fronts, generating increasing alarm in opposition political and activist circles amid continued reports of repressive governance in ISIS strongholds Aleppo and Raqqa. Rebels made advances early Aug after capturing villages and facilities in President Assad’s home province Latakia, 6 Aug seized army airbase outside Aleppo following 10-month siege. Regime forces 19 Aug pushed rebels out of Latakia, 21 Aug launched offensive to regain rebel-held territory around Damascus. Estimated 40,000 mostly Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan starting mid-Aug due to increased fighting between Kurdish militias and Islamist extremist rebel factions in Kurdish areas of NE Syria.

Lebanon

  |  1 Sep 2013

Deteriorated

Sectarian clashes reignited in Tripoli where gunmen 22 Aug killed 3 including Hizbollah supporter; at least 42 people killed, hundreds wounded 23 Aug in 2 explosions in Tripoli; no claim of responsibility; 5 suspects, including 3 members of pro-Syrian regime party, arrested. Explosion in Hizbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut 15 Aug killed at least 27, biggest bomb since 2005 killing of PM Hariri; small Syrian rebel group claimed responsibility. March 14 coalition blamed Hizbollah’s intervention in Syria for provoking retaliation; Hizbollah leader Nasrallah promised his organisation would double its fighters in Syria with each such attack. Security agencies reportedly uncovered further bombing cells, while Hizbollah set up checkpoints to protect Shia-majority neighbourhoods under its control. Airstrikes from Syria continued; 9 killed, 9 injured in 3 Aug airstrike on Arsal. 4 Israeli soldiers who had crossed border into Lebanon wounded in 7 Aug attack; Hizbollah claimed responsibility. 4 rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel 22 Aug causing damage but no casualties; Israel 23 Aug retaliated bombing “terror site” near Na’ameh (see Israel-Palestine). Political deadlock continued as Future Movement continues to insist on “neutral” cabinet while Hizbollah demands “national unity” govt composed of representatives from all sides.

Syria

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Opposition militants regained initiative on northern and southern fronts, 22 July seized Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province. Regime forces continued gains in Homs and Damascus suburbs, reportedly killing at least 49 rebels 21 July, 29 July seized Khaldiya district of Homs from rebels. Syrian National Coalition (NC) 6 July elected Ahmad al-Jarba as new leader; election shifted balance of regional influence within NC from Doha to Riyadh. Interim PM Hitto, elected by NC in March, resigned 8 July after failing to form interim govt. Armed opposition saw internal fighting among factions: al-Qaeda Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) emir 11 July killed prominent mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel commander Abu Bassel al-Ladkani in Latakia. Violent clashes resumed between Kurdish militants and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in various northern towns 16 July; militants 31 July reportedly took some 200 Kurdish civilians hostage after seizing 2 northern towns. UK PM Cameron 21 July indicated UK will not arm Syrian rebels; last U.S. congressional bars to arming rebels lifted 22 July. New Israeli air strike 5 July on warehouse in Latakia (see Israel/Palestine).

Lebanon

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Continued spillover from Syrian conflict with attacks on Hizbollah assets and allies. Dozens injured in car bomb targeting Hizbollah-controlled southern Beirut suburb Beir el-Abed 9 July; Syrian “Special Forces 313 Brigade” rebels claimed responsibility, also claimed 28 June attack on Hizbollah convoy. Roadside bomb 16 July struck Hizbollah convoy in Bekaa valley near Syrian border, killed 1. Gunmen 17 July killed pro-Assad Syrian media commentator Mohammad Darra Jamo in Sarafand; security services issued arrest warrants for Jamo’s family members, claiming no clear political motive behind his killing. Authorities 4 July charged Salafi Sheikh Assir and 36 supporters over June clashes in Abra. EU FMs 22 July agreed to blacklist Hizbollah’s military wing as terrorist organisation. Political deadlock continued as Parliament unable to convene due to boycott by some MPs, interim PM Salam still attempting to form cabinet.

Syria

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

Conflict’s transition to regional sectarian struggle continued to gain momentum. Regime continues to rely more heavily on foreign fighters: backed by Hizbollah fighters, Syrian army 5 June recaptured town of Qusayr near Lebanon border from rebels; launched offensives on Aleppo 11 June and Homs 29 June in bid to retake rebel-controlled areas. Iraqi Shiite militiamen reported to be streaming in in greater numbers, deploying in various parts of country. Rebel attack near military airport in Damascus 16 June reportedly killed at least 20 soldiers; 11 June massacre of Shiites in eastern village Hatla, reportedly carried out by opposition armed groups, further heightened sectarian tensions. Assembled in Cairo, leading Sunni clerics 13 June made joint call for jihad in Syria, endorsed by Egyptian President Morsi. Golan Heights border crossing briefly taken by rebels 6 June, recaptured a few hours later by Syrian army; Austria 11 June began withdrawing its UNDOF peacekeepers from Golan. U.S. 13 June committed to providing military support to rebels after assessing that regime has used chemical weapons; Friends of Syria group 22 June met in Doha to coordinate future arms delivery to Syrian rebels, while Russia 4 June defended planned delivery of MIGs and S-300 missiles to Syrian military saying it was in line with international law. Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief commander Salim Idriss 21 June affirmed FSA received arms shipments. Leaders at G8 summit 17-18 June failed to agree on resolution of Syrian conflict but committed to push for planned Geneva peace conference. UN/Arab League envoy Brahimi 25 June said Geneva conference unlikely until at least Aug as opposition doesn’t appear ready. Russia 26 June completed withdrawal of all military personnel from Syria due to security threat. UN 7 June launched largest ever humanitarian aid appeal of $5bn.

Lebanon

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

As country increasingly drawn into Syrian conflict, sectarian clashes increasing. Shelling across border from Syria continued including at least 12 rockets fired on eastern city Baalbek, shelling of Bekaa valley, Hermel and Arsal border towns. Demonstrators protesting shelling blocked roads in Bekaa, Beirut, al-Abboudiyeh, al-Bireh and clashed with army, leaving 1 dead. Clashes between Sheikh Assir supporters and pro-Hizbollah group in Sidon prompted army deployment 18 June, 2 killed. First-ever clash between army and armed Sheikh Assir supporters in Abra near Sidon 23-24 June; dozens killed, over 100 arrested after army 24 June stormed Assir HQ. Violence in Tripoli between Alawite and Sunni residents early month left at least 6 dead. Anti-Hizbollah protest outside Iranian embassy in Beirut 9 June turned violent, 1 killed. March 14 political coalition and foreign countries supporting Syrian opposition condemned Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria conflict during month. EU 19 June failed to reach consensus on blacklisting Hizbollah military wing as terrorist group. President Suleiman lodged official complaints with UN and Arab League condemning Syrian violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.


Lebanon

  |  1 Jun 2013

Deteriorated

Hizbollah increased support for Syrian troops fighting rebels in Syrian city al-Qusayr near border with Lebanon: Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah 25 May officially committed to fight against Syrian rebellion. At least 79 Hizbollah fighters killed in clashes with Syrian rebels 19-26 May. Germany 24 May backed UK efforts to add Hizbollah’s military wing to EU terrorist list. Syrian rebels mid-May fired more rockets into Hermel region and al-Qaa, no casualties reported. 30 killed and 200 wounded when renewed violence erupted between Sunni and Alawite residents in Tripoli 19 May. PM Tammam Salam continued consultations with political leaders to form cabinet and to agree on electoral law; MPs 31 May extended parliament’s mandate to Nov 2014, delaying parliamentary elections. UNIFIL, Lebanese and Israeli military reps met 8 May to discuss Lebanese complaint regarding Israel’s withdrawal from northern village Ghaggar and allegation of Israeli violations along Blue line, 9 May vowed to maintain calm along border.

Syria

  |  1 Jun 2013

Deteriorated

Fears of wider regional conflict grew after Israeli jets 5 May targeted military base in Damascus reportedly housing Iranian missiles for Hizbollah, killing several in first major Israeli strike. Followed reported earlier strike on shipment of weapons headed for Lebanon. In response, President Assad and Hizbollah threatened to turn Golan Heights into “resistance front”. Opposition accused regime forces of massacre, killing at least 50 people in Baida 2 May. Fighting ongoing in al-Qusayr between Syrian rebels and govt troops backed by Hizbollah fighters. Regime forces 8 May retook strategic town Khirbet Ghazaleh after 2-month bombardment, reestablished control of supply route to Daraa. Rebel Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade 12 May freed 4 Filippino UN peacekeepers captured 5 days earlier near Golan Heights. U.S. and Russia 7 May agreed to convene a new peace conference in Geneva in June; Syrian govt 24 May agreed “in principle” to attend but opposition Syrian National Coalition (NC) 30 May threatened to boycott conference if Hizbollah and Iran keep “invading” Syria. NC failed to elect new leader during talks in Istanbul. UNGA 15 May adopted resolution condemning ongoing violence in Syria; 31 May added militant group Jabhat al-Nusra to sanctions list due to al-Qaeda ties. EU 27 May lifted arms embargo on Syria; EU foreign policy chief Ashton said no current plans to deliver arms. Russia 28 May said it would honour contract to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syrian govt; Israel suggested it could strike any Russian arms shipment to Syria.

Lebanon

  |  1 May 2013

Deteriorated

Lebanon further drawn into Syria conflict as Hizbollah fighters reportedly leading operation against Syrian rebel forces in western city Al-Qusayr near border with Lebanon; Syrian rebels fired rockets into border villages during month, killing 2. March 14 coalition and Progressive Socialist Party Druze leader Walid Jumblatt denounced Hizbollah’s involvement in Syria conflict; Hizbollah denies its members are fighting, claims they are protecting Lebanese against Syrian rebel attacks, 30 April said Syria’s “real friends” in region will not let it fall. Syrian jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra 24 April threatened to attack Beirut if President Suleiman does not stop Hizbollah involvement. Suleiman condemned Salafist Sheikhs Assir and al-Rafehi’s calls to send jihad fighters to help Syrian opposition; Free Syrian Army also rejected clerics’ call. EU 23 April agreed to provide $38.9m to help almost 450,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Parliament 6 April designated moderate March 14 figure Tammam Salam new PM; Salam holding consultations over distribution of ministerial portfolios. Parliamentary subcommittee discussing new electoral law suspended 24 April amid deadlock.

Syria

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Opposition further consolidated foothold in south with seizure of military base near Daraa 3 April, while regime forces mounted successful counter-attacks in Damascus, Homs, 14 April broke 6-month rebel siege of Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiya military compounds outside Maarat al-Numan in north. Fighting intensified in western city Al-Qusayr; Hizbollah fighters from Lebanon reported to be leading Al-Qusayr operation against rebels. Army 11 April launched retaliatory attacks on Sanamein and Ghabagheb villages in Deraa province, accused of harbouring deserters; dozens of civilians reported killed. Regime PM al-Halki survived bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus in which 6 died 29 April. 13 killed by car bomb in central Damascus 30 April. Reports emerged 22 April of several hundred civilians killed in alleged regime massacre SW of Damascus. Rebel armed group Jabhat al-Nusra 10 April refuted reports it had merged with al-Qaeda in Iraq but pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda central. UN set to investigate mounting allegations that regime is using chemical weapons. Rebels 22 April abducted 2 Aleppo archbishops. Opposition Syrian National Coalition (NC) PM Hitto 6 April begun talks to form interim govt; NC 22 April named George Sabra as interim leader. President Assad 16 April offered reduced prison sentences for some detained rebels. UN/Arab League envoy Brahimi 19 April deplored lack of cooperation from regime, urged UNSC action; denied rumours he plans to resign. 5 top UN humanitarian officials issued plea for international aid. U.S. 21 April said will double non-lethal aid for rebels to $250m; EU 22 April eased oil embargo for opposition, remains divided on arms ban.

Lebanon

  |  1 Apr 2013

Deteriorated

Month saw further deterioration, with tensions escalating on several fronts and political uncertainty as govt collapsed 22 March after PM Mikati resigned following standoff with Hizbollah over extending Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi’s mandate. Mikati’s resignation sparked further clashes between Sunni and Alawite militants in northern town Tripoli, killing 12 people 22-24 March. Ongoing tensions in southern town Saida between Salafist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir and Shiite Hizbollah supporters. Regular cross-border shelling by Syria continued: Syrian Foreign Ministry mid-month threatened to strike rebels sheltering in Lebanon; several northern Lebanese border villages fired on by Syria 15, 31 March; Syrian regime for first time launched airstrikes 18 March targeting Arsal, eastern Lebanon. U.S. described strikes as “significant escalation in the violations of Lebanese sovereignty” by Damascus. March 14 coalition mid-month called for deployment of army and UN troops along border. UNSC 14 March issued statement of concern over repeated incidents of Lebanese-Syrian cross-border fire, incursions, abductions, arms trafficking. 3 Sunni clerics attacked 17 March in 2 incidents in predominantly Shiite Beirut neighbourhood sparking demonstrations.

Syria

  |  1 Apr 2013

Deteriorated

First credible reports emerged of chemical weapons use: govt and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents near Aleppo 19 March; opposition 25 March said govt killed 2, wounded 23 in chemical missile attack on Adra, near Damascus. 49 killed, including key pro-regime cleric, in attack on Damascus mosque 21 March; 20 killed in mortar attack on Damascus University 28 March. President Assad 22 March vowed to “cleanse” Syria of extremism. Rebel advance continued: rebels early March captured northern city Raqqa, their first entire provincial capital, began renewed push into Baba Amr, Homs. In Istanbul Syrian National Coalition (NC) 19 March elected Ghassan Hitto PM for rebel-held areas of Syria; NC leader Moaz al-Khatib resigned 24 March over “lack of help” from international community. At EU summit 15 March France and UK faced opposition to their proposal that EU arms embargo be lifted to allow arming of rebels. Rebel group “Martyrs of Yarmouk” 6 March captured 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers monitoring 1973 Israel-Syria armistice line in Golan, released 9 March. UN 25 March announced temporary withdrawal of some staff from Damascus citing insecurity. Syrian opposition opened embassy in Qatar 27 March, day after assuming Syrian seat at Arab League summit.

Lebanon

  |  1 Mar 2013

Deteriorated

Month saw heightened political tensions as well as increased spillover from Syrian conflict. Joint parliamentary committees 19 Feb endorsed controversial “Orthodox Gathering” electoral law proposal requiring each sect to elect own representatives through proportional representation, following walk-out by opposing parties, however Interior Minister Marwan Charbel same day ruled out holding June parliamentary elections without consensus on new electoral law. Debate continued over other proposals; number of accusations of parties intending to delay elections. Official 17 Feb reported 3 Hizbollah fighters killed in clashes with Syrian rebels in al-Qusayr, Syria, near border; FSA 19 Feb threatened retaliation against Hizbollah. Heavy shelling, gunfire over border from Syria 23-24 Feb killed 4 in north of Lebanon; refugee influx from Syria continued to increase; UN expressed renewed concern that Lebanon could be drawn into Syria’s civil war. 2 soldiers and detained local fugitive killed 1 Feb in Arsal in disputed incident sparking officials’ commendation and number of pro- and anti-army protests; military prosecutor 11 Feb charged 34 locals in connection with incident. 3 soldiers injured 15 Feb in protests against subsequent heightened security measures in Arsal and arrest of 11 local men. Bulgaria 5 Feb implicated Hizbollah in July 2012 bombing of tourist bus in Burgas that killed 5 Israelis, 1 Bulgarian; led to renewed calls for EU to blacklist group.

Syria

  |  1 Mar 2013

Deteriorated

Month saw violence on part of regime further escalating, with use of Scud missiles, as UN 27 Feb warned of severe rise in refugees and a humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description”. Rebels continue to consolidate hold on North and East, made several strategic gains. Renewed clashes reported in Aleppo end Feb; Human Rights Watch reported govt ballistic missile strikes in civilian areas killed over 100. Rebels launched new offensive on regime stronghold Damascus. Car bomb 21 Feb killed dozens, injured over 200 in central Damascus near ruling Ba’ath party HQ. Reports emerged of worsening maltreatment and torture of prisoners in govt jails. UN/Arab League Envoy Brahimi 17 Feb, Syrian National Coalition (NC) 22 Feb announced support for NC leader Mouaz Khatib’s Jan initiative for conditional talks with regime; Brahimi called for talks between opposition and “acceptable delegation” from govt; Syrian FM Walid al-Moualem 25 Feb said regime is prepared to talk to armed opposition. EU 19 Feb renewed arms embargo on Syria for further 3 months with amendment allowing more non-lethal and technical support for civilian protection. NC 23 Feb threatened to boycott 28 Feb “Friends of Syria” meeting with Western backers due to lack of international condemnation following govt’s bombardment of Aleppo; rescinded after condemnations issued, Western states promised increased non-lethal aid. NC 22 Feb announced it would establish govt to run rebel “liberated” areas of country. Brahimi’s contract extended to end-2013.

Syria

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Over 80 killed 15 Jan in reported govt missile strike at Aleppo University housing students, people displaced by conflict; over 100 killed same day in Basatin al-Hasawiya, outside Homs, reportedly by forces loyal to President Assad; over 70 bodies found massacred in Aleppo river 29 Jan. UN/Arab League Envoy Brahimi 29 urged UNSC to overcome differences, support plan for political transition, said country “being destroyed”. Following rare visit across conflict lines by UN humanitarian delegation, UN official 21 Jan said conditions “appalling”. President Assad 6 Jan pledged to continue fighting “terrorist” violence but offered national dialogue, constitutional referendum to end crisis; plan roundly rejected, as no indication he would step down as first stage of political transition. Islamist rebels 24 Jan reportedly raided civilian opposition organisations’ HQs in Saraqib. Rebels mid-month clashed with govt-leaning Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in NE; 11 Jan captured Taftanaz airbase, northern Idlib province. Israeli airstrike on convoy in Syria reportedly carrying weapons to Lebanon 30 Jan. Exile Syrian National Coalition leader Khatib 30 Jan set conditions for opposition’s direct talks with regime representatives; prospect rejected immediately by Syrian National Council component of National Coalition. National Coalition 21 Jan failed to form transitional govt at talks in Istanbul. Over 50 UN member states 14 Jan requested ICC investigation into possible war crimes by both sides; Russia 15 Jan said it would block effort.

Lebanon

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Parliamentary subcommittee 8 Jan resumed talks over new electoral law for June parliamentary polls; 30 Jan deadline extended 15 days to discuss hybrid proposal combining proportional and majority systems. Rival Christian parties 13 Jan proposed joint “Orthodox Gathering” draft electoral law. Sunni-dominated Future Current leader Saad Hariri 31 Jan proposed “small district” law and creation of a Senate. Armed protestors in Tripoli 18 Jan assaulted March 8 coalition minister Faisal Karami’s convoy, 11 injured. Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria held sit-ins at Beddawi refugee camp protesting shortages in assistance: PM Mikati 26 Jan said situation had “reached dangerous levels”. 1 killed 3 Jan in armed clash in Sidon between Hizbollah-affiliated Resistance Companies and Popular Nasserite Organisation. Car bomb 29 Jan injured 2 in Beirut. Supporters of Salafi Sheik Ahmed Assir 13 Jan protested in Sidon against Hizbollah weapons, alliance with Iran. Lebanon accused Israel of violating its airspace several times during month, including with 12 warplanes 22-23 Jan.

Syria

  |  30 Dec 2012

Deteriorated

Violence escalated with rising death tolls and displacement; intense fighting continued in Aleppo, reached new levels in Damascus, where fighting most intense in southern suburbs, particularly Palestinian-dominated Yarmouk where mid-Dec airstrikes and clashes left scores dead and caused mass exodus. Increased violence in Hama province as rebels launched new offensive, gained several towns; regime air strike, among most deadly to date, in Halfaya, Hama province killed dozens 24 Dec; nearly 400 reported killed 29 Dec, including approx 150 bodies found in Deir Baalba, Homs. Govt denied reports regime using Scud missiles. UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria 20 Dec said conflict escalating, becoming increasingly sectarian: video posted 12 Dec showed rebels destroying Shiite mosque in north; up to 200 Alawite civilians killed in Aqrab early Dec. UN 19 Dec increased refugee and IDP projections following significant increase in civilians fleeing Syria. Remainder of “Friends of Syria” group, including U.S., 12 Dec recognised National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, formed Nov, as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people at Morocco conference. U.S. 11 Dec officially designated rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as terrorist organisation. UN/Arab League Envoy Brahimi met President Assad and opposition in Damascus late Dec, visited Moscow 29 Dec to discuss proposals for ending conflict, expressed strong support for “Geneva plan” based on formation of transitional govt; Assad 26 Dec sent senior diplomat to Moscow to discuss proposals. National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib 28 Dec rejected Russia’s invitation for peace talks, demanded Russian apology for its support for Assad; said could meet in Arab country if clear agenda set. Major General Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalal, head of Syria’s military police, defected 25 Dec.

Lebanon

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Boycott of govt by March 14 alliance, triggered by Oct assassination of Wissam Hassan, continued; dispute increasingly involving issue of new electoral legislation for 2013 parliamentary polls. March 14 alliance 28 Dec set incorporation of Hizbollah’s arms into state as another pre-condition for attendance at scheduled 6 Jan National Dialogue. Syria 11 Dec issued arrest warrants for former Lebanon PM Saad Hariri and MP Oqab Saqr, accused of arming and funding Syrian opposition fighters; PM Mikati 15 Dec called warrants political and “legally void”. New clashes between supporters of Syrian uprising in Bab al-Tabbaneh and supporters of Syrian president Assad in Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods of Tripoli early Dec, 17 killed and over 70 injured; army deployed to restore security.

Syria

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Opposition 12 Nov announced break-through formation of National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces following week of talks in Qatar, external pressure. Former Syrian National Council merged into new body; former Damascene imam, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, named leader. 6 Gulf states 12 Nov, France 13 Nov, Turkey 15 Nov, UK 21 Nov, Spain 29 Nov formally recognised coalition as sole legitimate representative of Syrian people. Opposition forces in Aleppo 20 Nov voiced support for coalition day after rejecting it, called for greater representation; Syrian-Kurdish PYD party 20 Nov rejected coalition. Worst violence in months in southern, eastern Damascus rebel strongholds included airstrikes, fierce clashes; dozens killed in 2 car bombs 28 Nov; fighting 29 Nov closed Damascus Airport. Number of strategic gains by rebels, winning control of oil field, hydroelectric dam, several army bases; weapons captured. Rebel Free Syria Army 9 Nov captured Ras al-Ain on Turkish border; army responded with days of intense bombardment, occasionally spilling into Turkey: fighting sparked unprecedented exodus into Turkey. Month saw several incursions into Golan Heights demilitarised zone; Israel sought UN action, in later incidents responded with direct fire. Rebels 7 Nov shelled mainly Alawite Damascus district.

Lebanon

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Political crisis sparked by Oct assassination of Wissam Hassan continued: 14 March coalition repeated demands that govt resign, be replaced with “neutral salvation cabinet” as pre-condition for talks; National Dialogue session delayed to 9 Jan. PM Makati 19 Nov rejected feasibility of “neutral” cabinet, said formation of new cabinet could be discussed at National Dialogue session, offered to step down if it would resolve crisis. President Sleiman and Walid Jumblatt, Druze politician and leader of Progressive Socialist Party, attempted to reconcile sides. 3 killed 11 Nov in clashes between supporters of Hezbollah and Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir in Sidon; PM Makati called for calm. Army 24 Nov reportedly foiled plot in Nabatieh to attack Shia Ashura commemorations 25 Nov; 5 Syrians arrested. 2 rockets aimed at Israel launched 21 Nov but fell short of border, several other attempts foiled by army. FM Adnan Mansour 20 Nov visited Gaza in first-ever govt visit to OPT. Syrian army 30 Nov killed some 20 Lebanese gunmen from Tripoli fighting alongside rebels in Syria.

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