“Aleppo has borne the brunt of rebel anger, as shells and rockets fired from their positions in the east of the city fell heavy as rain in the days leading up to the vote, and continue to do so as I write this and as the voting gets under way. The mayhem and slaughter is unprecedented in the regime areas as hundreds of shells left no neighborhood unmolested. Streets became deserted as people stayed indoors and shops closed, hoping to avoid random death from above. Of course, dozens were not so lucky, and the civilian death toll from just two days of rebel shelling stood at over 50, with scores more wounded and large areas devastated, especially in the Midan neighborhood, an Armenian quarter adjacent to the Bustan al-Basha rebel stronghold. The scenes of death and carnage, especially among children. were so shocking and horrific that even staunchly pro-opposition groups had to speak out against them and demand they stop.
Yet, the bombs ceaselessly continue to fall, claiming even more lives as students attended exams at colleges and schools where ballot boxes were placed”
Further good articles regarding the Syrian elections and it´s implications:
“In fact, the only rebel factions still strong enough to resist and fight the regime on the latest fronts are the radical Islamists. The town of Azizeh, just outside the Marjeh area in the east, the strategically vital Sheikh Najjar industrial zone, the old city and Aleppo’s central prison are all defended by al-Qaeda’s affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as Salafist militants Ahrar al-Sham, a member of the Islamic Front.”
“A source in the Syrian army told Al-Akhbar that “the army is ready for any surprise attack,” pointing out that “opposition fighters are amassing in Daraa and if they attack it will be from there.””
“In conjunction with the attack on the Kimyaa Battalion, fighters from al-Nusra Front attacked the city of Busra al-Sham in the southwest of the Suwaida governorate. However, the army, along with the Popular Committees in the city, were able to repulse the attack which led to injuries among government forces defending the city and many casualties among opposition fighters.
For its part, the Syrian army led a surprise offensive yesterday morning using tanks and air strikes against the villages of al-Hajjeh, al-Dawayeh al-Kubra, al-Sughra, Bir Ajam and al-Buraika in the central and south sectors of al-Quneitra in order to exhaust opposition fighters and diminish their strength, as Al-Akhbar learned.”
al-Qaida-linked fighters of the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant found the wounded rebel in a hospital after a battle with government forces on Wednesday.
They said he was moaning phrases typical of Shia.
The fighters later displayed the man’s head before a crowd in Aleppo city. But residents identified it as belonging to a leader of another hardline Islamist rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham.
“One such case is the sad story of a young Christian boy named Salim Nahhas, whose siblings I knew quite well. He was only 19 when he died fighting with the regime against the rebels in the Rashdeen area of Aleppo in July 2013.
But the most remarkable aspect of Nahhas’ story is that most of his family was initially with the uprising and against the regime, some even taking part in protests and later aid work for the displaced. That was before Aleppo was invaded by the rebels in the summer of 2012 and before rebel mortar shells hit Nahhas’ neighborhood, killing some of his friends and neighbors. Since then, many things have changed in Aleppo.”
“One of them shouted: ‘Whoever insults the Prophet will be killed according to Sharia’,” she told me.
“I ran down barefoot to the streets. I heard the first shot. I fell to the ground when I got there.
“One of them shot him again and kicked him. He shot him for a third time and stamped on him.
“I said: ‘Why are you killing him? He’s still a child!’ The man shouted: ‘He is not a Muslim – leave!'”
“Omar’s group, Ghurabaa al-Sham, wasn’t defeated by the government. It was dismantled by a rival band of revolutionaries – hardline Islamists.”
“During a 10-day journey through rebel-held territory in Syria, Reuters journalists found that radical Islamist units are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists’ goal…”
“The moderates are losing ground. In many parts of rebel-held Aleppo, the red, black and green revolutionary flag which represents more moderate elements has been replaced with the black Islamic flag.”