Syria Deeply: High-Octane Diplomacy, Big Shifts on the Ground

11/17/13, 9:28 PM

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Dear Deeply Readers,

This week saw Hezbollah doubling down in Syria, with leader Hasan Nasrallah pledging to keep up the fight to secure the rule of President Bashar al Assad. It’s apparently serving him well, giving regime forces a boost in a bid to take back rebel-held parts of Damascus and Aleppo. All in all, while the country still stands split between regime and rebel areas, momentum on the battlefield has tilted toward Assad. On the opposing side, Al Qaeda is ramping up, fueled by cash from the Arabian Gulf; in the most dramatic study, the central city of Raqqa is now an Al Qaeda stronghold, where hard-line Islamic rule has sent moderate activists fleeing. Al Qaeda has its own foreign fighters, including hundred of Western-born jihadis from Europe, who form a trend that’s troubling security officials. And while Al Qaeda fighters are stifling critics on the ground, they can’t help but spark criticism and pushback; this week they had to apologize for chopping off the head of the wrong person, mistaking a fellow extremist for the enemy. Kurds are now running their own region, after declaring an interim automous administration. The Syrian opposition has agreed to peace talks, but political progress is hardly inching forward; any hope comes from the possibility of a Geneva II peace conference before the end of the year. Meanwhile, diplomats are churning on a solution for Syria’s chemical weapons – specifically, where to send them for their ultimate dismantling (Albania rejected the notion of taking them in). On the ground, Syrians are bracing for “the worst winter in 100 years,” while violence has devastating ripple effects on the young (thousands of deserted children have fled Syria alone and teenage girls are getting married for protection from refugee life). Violence continues to threaten the borders of Lebanon and Turkey. Highlights from Syria Deeply:

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Syria Deeply: High-Octane Diplomacy, Big Shifts on the Ground

11/17/13, 9:28 PM

Crossing the Bridge of Death in Deir Ezzor In Besieged Homs, Residents Fear Disastrous Third Winter From a Lawyer in Aleppo to a Laborer in Turkey

Reads from the Week: Reuters: U.S., Russia to Discuss Peace Conference on Monday Asharq Al Awsat: Syria’s Kurds: In or Out? BBC News: Syrian Place their Faith in Geneva II Talks Reuters: Assad Allies Profit from Lucrative Food Trade AP: Syria’s Qalamoun Offensive Forces Thousands to Flee to Lebanon We’re fielding your feedback on how to better serve you and cover the story. You can reach our team on email at info@syriadeeply.org. Sincerely,

The News Deeply Team

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