The fall of Homs
Arabic media review

The fall of Homs

Opposition could still gain control over the city in the future, says Free Syrian Army commander

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Syrian government forces inspect damage in Homs, Syria, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (photo credit: AP)
Syrian government forces inspect damage in Homs, Syria, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (photo credit: AP)

The departure this week of Syrian rebels from the city of Homs, their most significant urban stronghold, and other news from the war-torn country fill the front pages of Arab media on Friday.

“Washington imposes new sanctions on Syrian officials,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring a photo of Syrian regime soldiers over the rubble of an Aleppo hotel used as regime headquarters, which was detonated by rebel forces.

The Al-Hayat article begins with the inclusion of six Syrian officials in the list of entities sanctioned by the US, including the head of the Republican Guard, Bassam Al-Hassan, and a Russian bank working with the regime.

Covering the conflict from an international angle, Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads with the headline, “A European plan uses Arab states in confronting Syrian Jihadists.”

The article reports on a meeting between European and Arab officials in a bid to tackle the phenomenon of foreign fighters flocking to partake in Jihad in Syria.

The plan, presented by the Belgian interior minister in Brussels, includes the sharing of intelligence information, better control of borders, monitoring of social networks to detect extremist messages, and closer control over citizens returning from Syria.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a pan-Arab newspaper published in London, interviews a member of the Syrian opposition’s Islamic Front, who says that his group will release 70 Alawite women taken captive during battles with the regime some seven months ago. In return, the regime will allow opposition forces to exit the city of Homs.

The daily also quotes Free Syrian Army commander Riadh Al-As’ad as saying that the battle for Homs ended in “gain and loss” for the Syrian opposition, which could yet regain control over the city. The fighters were forced to surrender, he said, after their food supply was completely cut off.

Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports that Syrian Jihadist group Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) may be expanding to Saudi Arabia in its female form.

A Twitter group called “mothers and wives of Saudi ISIL fighters” warned competing group Al-Nusra Front against targeting Saudi members of ISIL fighting in Syria. The women said they will harm the families of Al-Nusra Front members living in Saudi Arabia if their men are harmed by Al-Nusra during combat in Syria.

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