The Middle East Channel

Raqqa falls to Syrian rebels while regime soldiers are ambushed in Iraq

Syrian opposition forces have reportedly overtaken most of Raqqa, a northern province. They have captured Hassan Jalili, Raqqa’s governor and Baath party secretary general and toppled a statue of the late former President Hafez al-Assad. If verified, this would be a major gain for the opposition, and Governor Jalili would be one of the highest ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Syrian opposition forces have reportedly overtaken most of Raqqa, a northern province. They have captured Hassan Jalili, Raqqa's governor and Baath party secretary general and toppled a statue of the late former President Hafez al-Assad. If verified, this would be a major gain for the opposition, and Governor Jalili would be one of the highest regime official captured since the beginning of the conflict nearly two years ago. However, fighting has continued between opposition fighters and pro-regime forces in some areas in Raqqa as well as at the provincial airport, about 40 miles from the city. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported government airstrikes on two targets in Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 39 Syrian soldiers and eight Iraqis were killed Monday in Iraq in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the western Anbar province, in the most serious spillover yet of the Syrian conflict into a neighboring country. The soldiers were among 65 Syrians who had crossed into Iraq after opposition fighters captured the Yaaroubiyah border post. Iraqi soldiers were transporting them to another border crossing when they were ambushed. Also on Monday, a group of Syrians announced the formation of a provincial council for Aleppo after elections were held on Sunday in Gaziantep, a Turkish city. While small governing bodies have been organized in opposition held territories before, this is the first attempt at establishing a province-wide civilian authority. The first priority for the 29-member Aleppo council will be to restore services such as water, utilities, healthcare, and bread.

Headlines

A suicide car bombing blamed on al Qaeda militants killed 12 members of the pro-government Popular Committees outside their office in Yemen's southern Abyan province. Violence has escalated for a third day in Port Said, Egypt, as a a group of protesters set fire to an interior ministry security services office. President Morsi withdrew police forces. New Palestinian-only bus lines between the West Bank and Tel Aviv have sparked controversy in Israel over segregation policies. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has canceled the Gaza marathon over the refusal of Hamas authorities to allow women to participate. 

Syrian opposition forces have reportedly overtaken most of Raqqa, a northern province. They have captured Hassan Jalili, Raqqa’s governor and Baath party secretary general and toppled a statue of the late former President Hafez al-Assad. If verified, this would be a major gain for the opposition, and Governor Jalili would be one of the highest regime official captured since the beginning of the conflict nearly two years ago. However, fighting has continued between opposition fighters and pro-regime forces in some areas in Raqqa as well as at the provincial airport, about 40 miles from the city. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported government airstrikes on two targets in Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 39 Syrian soldiers and eight Iraqis were killed Monday in Iraq in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the western Anbar province, in the most serious spillover yet of the Syrian conflict into a neighboring country. The soldiers were among 65 Syrians who had crossed into Iraq after opposition fighters captured the Yaaroubiyah border post. Iraqi soldiers were transporting them to another border crossing when they were ambushed. Also on Monday, a group of Syrians announced the formation of a provincial council for Aleppo after elections were held on Sunday in Gaziantep, a Turkish city. While small governing bodies have been organized in opposition held territories before, this is the first attempt at establishing a province-wide civilian authority. The first priority for the 29-member Aleppo council will be to restore services such as water, utilities, healthcare, and bread.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

Syria’s Many Militias: Inside the Chaos of the Anti-Assad Rebellion (Rania Abouzeid, Time Magazine)

Syria‘s rebels have been locked in a bloody war with the regime of President Bashar Assad for nearly two years. But for 27 days after it was formed last December, the Free Syrian Army’s Military Command-elected by some 550 rebel delegates and tasked with commanding and controlling the myriad groups on the ground-did not receive so much as a bullet from its Arab and Western supporters. That lack of aid threatened to crush the nascent Military Command’s credibility with the fighting men inside Syria.

The body, headed by chief of staff Brigadier General Salim Idris, replaced the Joint Command of the Revolutionary Military Councils (which was formed less than three months prior), and shunted aside the dueling, Turkey-based so-called leaders of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad al-As’aad and General Mustafa al-Sheikh, who were never more than figureheads.

New routes to racism (Haaretz)

"It’s clear that the bus segregation is part of a more principled separation between the populations that is expressed in almost every area: In the allocation of areas for residential construction, in the different legal systems, in the unequitable distribution of resources and in discriminatory travel regulations.

Occupied territory is meant to be managed by the occupying state as a temporary trust for the benefit of the local population. There are clear rules aimed at preventing the evolution of a colonial or apartheid regime. The way the State of Israel is managing the territories is a far cry from the way occupied lands are meant to be managed.

Rather than express "concern" for the Palestinians by excluding them from Jewish bus lines, it would behoove the prime minister to immediately put a stop to this racist segregation."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration of a captain's hat with a 1980s era Pepsi logo and USSR and U.S. flag pins.

The Doomed Voyage of Pepsi’s Soviet Navy

A three-decade dream of communist markets ended in the scrapyard.

Demonstrators with CASA in Action and Service Employees International Union 32BJ march against the Trump administration’s immigration policies in Washington on May 1, 2017.

Unionization Can End America’s Supply Chain Crisis

Allowing workers to organize would protect and empower undocumented immigrants critical to the U.S. economy.

The downtown district of Wilmington, Delaware, is seen on Aug. 19, 2016.

How Delaware Became the World’s Biggest Offshore Haven

Kleptocrats, criminals, and con artists have all parked their illicit gains in the state.