Syria President Assad Visits Arda

SyriaIn a rare visit outside of Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad traveled to the nearby Adra to a homeless shelter to inspect the people. Most of Adra was captured by opposition rebel forces three months ago. Assad has been confined to the capital after hostility peaked against him and his government for using chemical weapons on common Syrians last August. This visit comes as the Syrian presidential elections are scheduled in four months.

This news was also tweeted out in Arabic from the official twitter account of Assad.  The Syrian state news agency said that President Assad cared about the displaced people and wanted to know their needs. Adra is a main rebel target and many non-Sunni Muslims were killed last year before the military forces took back control of the city. As the rebel activity intensified last year, nearly 100,000 Adra residents fled to safety. Assad’s Syria is backed by Hezbollah and Shia Iran to combat the Sunni rebel forces and their jihadi supporters.

Today, gunfire started again in the nearby Syrian city of Bazrah that was regained by Assad forces from rebel hold in January of this year.  Reuters reported last week from this city that rebels are becoming tired after months of struggle with the government forces for Bazrah and that they are low on men after intense clashes. It is also reported that the rebel forces are suffering from lack of food supplies and medication as the military has packed the boundaries and no more goods-smuggling is possible. Rebels are also demanding Assad release their detained men, according to reports.

The United Nations webpage reads:  “It has been one thousand and ninety-five days of suffering in Syria. Few days ago UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said that a political solution can only be a way out for the Syrian people and Syria is the biggest humanitarian, security and peace crisis in the world. UN mediator Brahimi had set up two diplomatic talks in Geneva this year and both negotiations failed to materialize. Syrian information minister Zoabi has been critical on Brahimi and once even commented on his advanced age, saying “Brahimi is eighty years old.”

Brahimi recently said that the rebels would not be interested in any further negotiations if the Assad government decides to go ahead with the elections.  Zoabi responded by saying that Brahimi is not allowed to impose American policy in Syria and their authorities will decide whether to run elections and that no one could obstruct the constitutional requirement of the country.  The Syrian opposition party said recently that the elections conducted amid raging civil war in the country would be rigged, especially if Assad is seeking a re-election.

Many pundits believe neither the Assad government nor the rebel forces have the strength to completely take over Syria for now. Both sides need outside influence to end the civil war. As Assad’s seven-year term is ending this July, the presidential elections must be conducted two to three months before the current term deadline per Syrian law.

By Vikas Vemuri


LA Times


Washington Post

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