Archive | August, 2012

Syria Update, August 31, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

31 Aug

Syria Update, August 31, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Mid-day death toll is 67.

Yesterday’s death toll was reported at 164 by the local coordination committees and at 119 by the SOHR in London.

The SAA is shelling the town of Abu az-Zuhur near the airport taken yesterday. Clashes continued at the airport. The opposition reportedly stormed the officers’ (this is a military airport) billeting areas. The FSA shot down a 4th helicopter at Abu az-Zuhur today.

The SAA has been shelling Ram Hamdan and Bzeit in Idlib province. A little girl was killed in Bzeit and houses have been destroyed.

At 5:30 pm the SAA shelled Kafranbel from helicopters. Reports of casualties.

The opposition attacked a security building in West Aleppo and clashes continued in the neighborhoods of Sayf al-Dawla and Salaheddin. The opposition is carrying out a new offensive in and near Aleppo. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/31/syria-rebels-offensive-aleppo_n_1846043.html

8 were killed and 30 wounded in al-Bab which is FSA-held.

The opposition captured 9 Syrian regime troops near Sayyida Zainab in Damascus.

Four bodies were found by the sides of the Mutahaleq al-Janubi road in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus.

The SAA bombed Rankus, a resort town to the north of Damascus.

The SAA attacked the town of Naimah in Dara`a.

The SAA opened fire on a non-violent anti-regime protest in al-Damir in Damascus province and the SAA attacked a similar protest in al-Fayha in Hama.

A bomb exploded near the mosque of al-Rahma in the neighborhood of al-Qusur in Hama.

The SAA shelled the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiya and al-Jabalya in Deir az-Zur.

The SAA raided and burned homes in Dara`a al-Balad.

The SAA shelled Dael in Dara`a heavily, and during the Friday prayers. The SAA shelled Basra al-Sham in Dara`a.
Clashes took place in Enkel in Dara`a.

The SAA shelled al-Rastan in Homs killing one person.

The SAA targeted the funeral procession of Abdenaser Qatreeb, shelling with mortars in Basames village..

Friday anti-regime demonstrations took place after salat al-jum`a all over Syria. Held in al-Damir, Yalda in Damascus province, in Qodsiyya, and Assali and Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus although the SAA blocked roads into Damascus today; in Dara`a city in al-Kashef, and al-Qusur, and the town of al-Yaduda in Dara`a and in Khirbet al-Ghazaleh, in Douma, in Deir az-Zur, in Kafr Zeita in Hama province and Aleppo street and Bab al-Qabli in Hama; in Baza`a and Jarables near Aleppo, in Maskan Hanano in Aleppo, in Kfar Rouma in Idlib, in Qamishli, in al-Ghawta in Homs, in Kafr Nabel in support of the FSA, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu5-A2McTvY&feature=player_embedded
; in Harasta http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oMq–UDG8Q&feature=youtu.be
Several demonstrations were held in Hassake and in al-Houla in Homs

The protesters shout: “Death is better than humiliation,” “The people want the end of the regime,” “Martrys, you are heroes!” “We do not kneel except before God,” “Treacherous soldier, shame on you!,” “How beautiful you are, oh Freedom!” “Daraya, a flame that will never die.”

Slogans and signs coming from Kafranbel say: “We demand an alien invasion to save us” and “Only in Syria, the rate of everyday martyrs exceeds the rate of rainfall.”

The International Red Cross has only 50 members in Syria, all confined to Damascus and the group has not been able to provide any medical aid convoys from there for two weeks. IRC says the situation is deteriorating in Syria.

Kidnapped/Detained : The Czech Ambassador to Syria Eva Filipi who is in charge of U.S. citizens in Syria since the US embassy closed, said that U.S. reporter Austin Tice was detained near Daraya. The Syrian government has not publicly confirmed the reporter’s status. The Washington Post and McClatchey news service called for his release.

The bodies of 5 Syrian civilians kidnapped 2 days ago from Kreim in Sahle al-Ghab by pro-regime armed men were found today. Another 10 men had been kidnapped.

A hundred Turkish journalists held a demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy in Ankara to protest the detention of two Turkish journalists, Cunayt Unal and Bashar Fahmi in Syria. They have been missing for 11 days and it is presumed they are being held by government forces because Unal appeared in a video on Syrian state television, bruised and appearing to be under extreme duress. http://www.trust.org/alertnet/multimedia/pictures/detail.dot?mediaInode=bc4b9c4f-c572-4ae4-bdcf-c4519932a6b4

International:

France’s President said his country will channel 5 million Euros in aid to liberated zones in Syria’s north and south so that Syrians can directly help civilians who may want to remain in their country. Such liberated zones actually require no-fly status, but the U.N. Security Council has not, and will likely never approve that status. However, as in other wars in this century, it is possible that a multinational coalition could create such no-fly zones without the approval of the Security Council which is deadlocked by Russia, China and Iran’s opposition to other nations’ proposals for Syria. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/syria-crisis-zones-idINL6E8JV4SS20120831

Turkey plans to continue to pursue diplomatic efforts (similar to the above French plan) to protect Syrian civilians within Syria in safe-zones.

The SOHR reported that Turkey has issued a new law prohibiting Syrians from living in cities on the border with Syria. If caught, they are to be deported to the refugee camps or expelled from Turkish soil.

United Nations head, Ban Ki-Moon UN chief Ban Ki-moon told Syria’s prime minister and foreign minister in a meeting in Tehran that fighting must cease in Syria “with the primary responsibility resting on the government to halt its use of heavy weapons.” He went on to say that all parties must cease violence.

In the Golan Heights, controlled by Israel, Syrian Druzes protest in Majdal al-Shams against Bashar al-Assad, but one report shows that another part of this population, fearful of the Syrian regime, defends it, self-censors or shuns the opposition. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/31/golan-heights-divided-support-assad-syria?newsfeed=true

The Iranian parliament’s Middle East advisor, Hossein Sheikholeslam insulted President Morsy in respone to his comments at the Nonaligned Movement Summit meeting saying that Morsi “did not have the necessary political maturity to lead a NAM summit.” Sheikholeslam said Morsi expressed Egypt’s views but ignored NAM principles.

Sweden will donate 2.99 million Euros in aid for Syrian refugees to the United Nations refugee agency.
Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

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Syria Update August 30, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

31 Aug

Syria Update, August 30, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

The death toll is at 164. The Local Coordination Committees reported that these included 72 deaths in Idlib, 42 found handcuffed (and dead) in Ariha, 31 dead in Damascus or its suburbs, 19 dead in Hama including 16 who had been summarily, 18 dead in Dara`, 11 dead in Homs, 9 in Aleppo, 3 in Deir az-Zour and 1 in Tartus.

The United Nations Security Council meeting today produced neither a resolution nor any concrete action or way forward in the Syrian crisis. The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davatoglu complained that he had expected the meeting to produce results and that an entire generation of Syrians are suffering. The U.S., Russia and China did not even send their representatives to the Council meeting. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/syria-crisis-un-idINL2E8JU8Y320120831

The SAA shelled the al-Hajana area in Abu Kamal.

The SAA shelled Khirbet al-Ghazala and Tal Shabeeb in Dara`a.

A mass grave was discovered in al-Shaykh Najjar in Aleppo today. This is said to be another massacre of civilians by the Syrian military.

SAA shelling in the Saif al-Dawla neighborhood of Aleppo killed dozens of people today.

The SAA has heavily shelled Zamalka in the Damascus suburb for a third day by warplanes and artillery. Regime forces took a number of young men and detained them in the town square and it is unclear what has happened to them.

Later in the day, SAA heavily shelled Abu Zuhur in Idlib in response killing at least 20 including 8 women and 9 children.

Early Thursday, the opposition claims to have taken over the Abu Zuhur airport near Idlib. Hundreds of rebels were said to be involved and they then they shot down a jet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T4MhMTzaC0&feature=player_embedded

This video shows the pilots ejecting from the aircraft. (al-Arabiyya) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7yktr9q7Zo&feature=player_embedded

The BBC reported on Assad’s inner circle and recent defections.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19428620

David Ignatius interviews Manaf Tlass. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20120830/COLUMNISTS108/308300003/A-Syrian-defector-s-mission

International:

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsy spoke in support of a free, independent Syria in transition to democracy in a speech at the Nonaligned Movement’s convention in Tehran. “The Syrian people are fighting with courage, looking for freedom and human dignity,” he said. “The crisis in Syria is hanging on all of us. It is our responsibility” …and “We must all be fully aware that this will not stop unless we act.” The Syrian foreign minister Walid Mouellem walked out in protest during his speech. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameini did not mention Syria in his welcome speech to the group.
Ettihad Airways has suspended its flights between Abu Dhabi and Damascus due to the deterioration of the security situation in Syria.

Lakhdar Brahimi intends to visit Damascus, but does not know when he will do so, possibly not until after September 24, 2012, despite the increasing violence in the country. He will attend a hand-over meeting with Kofi Annan in New York next week. 






The Syrian National Council issued an appeal to the United Nations Security Council to create a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors in Syria to protect civilians who are caught in the conflict. The appeal was issued in an effort to influence the Council meeting held today. The French and British foreign ministers made statements which mentioned the difficulties of creating such safe zones, and that it would difficult to convince the Security Council to agree on them, but said they hadn’t ruled anything out as yet.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

Syria Update, August 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

30 Aug

Syria Update, August 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Current death toll is 108.

Fierce fighting occurred between the SAA and the opposition at Taftanaz, a military airport between Idlib and Aleppo. The FSA shelled the airport and the SAA shelled the town of Taftanaz nearby. Fourteen SAA troops were killed. A different news source reported that the opposition destroyed 10 helicopters.

Clashes continued in different neighborhoods of Aleppo. The city’s buildings, monuments and people have been damaged and displaced by the fighting raging since July 20, 2012. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/29/syrias-aleppo-bears-scars-of-five-week-battle/

The SAA continued its third day of an assault entailing bombing and strafing of the suburbs of East Ghouta in Damascus. Combat helicopters shelled Saqba and the neighborhood of Zamalka. At least 27 people were killed in the eastern suburbs and thousands fled, either into Damascus or to the north towards Dumair. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/29/syria-crisis-damascus-idINL6E8JTILK20120829

There were clashes reported in Qaboon in Damascus and in Jubar, killing civilians. The SAA conducted house-to-house raids in Ain Tarma, killing civilians.

The SAA shelled Kfar Batna approximately every minute for a period today. The SAA also shelled Irbin.

The SAA shelled Jurat al-Shiyya, Khaldiyya and Old Homs in Homs today.

Bashar al-Assad blamed Turkey for the bloodshed in his country, opposed an international buffer zone, and praised regime forces for their role in the conflict, and said the struggle against the “rebels” will take time in a television interview today (Addunia). He also said the government had discussed the defections from the military and the government, implying that the government might have stopped the defections (by killing or imprisoning people) but that they had decided to let them go, “let’s facilitate their exit.”

Bassma Kodmani resigned from the Syrian National Council on Tuesday saying that the group needed to be replaced by a new political authority (there is a talk of a transitional government) and that it was centering around personal agendas. Here is a rough translation of what she posted on Facebook yesterday:

As to what happened in the Syrian National Council as of this day.

I was among a small group of Syrians, founders of the National Council in the summer of 2011, I had the honor to serve the Syrian revolution with whatever ability I have, [and promised] that I would help carry its message internationally, was responsible for its Foreign Relations (department) for 9 months in light of the international difficulties.

The Council experience has carried the project of building a national framework and political reference for all spectrums of the Syrian people at home and abroad; it could be a roof for the Syrian House that protects the country and protects the people. But today, alas, we stand without a roof and without protection against horrific massacres of Hula, and Daraya, and the blood of people flowing in the streets of our towns and villages. The project did not achieve its objectives and did not earn the requisite credibility and did not maintain the confidence that people gave its operations, and moved away from the path that we wanted for it when it was created.

And so I had promised myself since the beginning of the revolution to fight for the people’s rights and freedom, unity and independence of our country; I won’t stop supporting the revolution and revolutionaries with all of my energy, and I will continue the march from outside the council, where I see the working space to be wider than working from within. I had the honor to work with many colleagues and loyal patriots of all political and ideological currents, whom I respect and appreciation and I am confident that our paths will converge in the service and building our country Syria.

Freedom for our people and compassion for the souls of our martyrs,

Basma Qdmana

28 Ab (August) 2012

International:

One may download the full report of the “Day After” project for Syria in English or Arabic on USIP’s page here http://www.usip.org/publications/the-day-after-project

Jordan’s Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh said today that Jordan will expel those Syrian refugees who attacked and wounded 20 policemen during clashes at Zaatari refugee camp yesterday which erupted over conditions at the camp.

In reaction to the bottleneck situation where Syrian refugees have been prevented from entering Turkey, and Iraq’s refusal to admit refugees, Human Rights Watch issued an appeal to nations adjacent to Syria to keep their borders open to Syrian refugees and to donor nations to increase their funding to refugees. HRW also said that any safe zone established shouldn’t be “used to prevent people from fleeing.”
Russia called for a “meticulous” and “impartial” investigation into the barbaric violence in Daraya where hundreds of civilians were massacred. The United Nation’s Ban Ki-Moon has already called for an investigation.
Italy held closed talks on the future of Syria today with senior officials from other countries.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

Syria Update, August 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

28 Aug

Syria Update, August 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

Why am I blogging about Syria? Have been posting on FB and on sherifazuhur@wordpress.com for over a month because:

*Pro-Assad, apologist and anti-Islamist persons, media, academics, and employees are making incredible allegations in the media, cyberspace, and in professional association lists in order to diminish support for the Syrian opposition and Syrian civilian victims. Some have gone to great lengths to deny serious massacres of civilians and Syrian regime sources are blaming the opposition for attacks that state forces and militias have carried out.

*not all news sources report accurately and it is a confusing task to sort through it all. Syria blocked foreign media from entering the country for months, and now permits only certain coverage in some areas while allowing the “embedded” Robert Fisk, an apologist, to be its spokesperson abroad. Some other media post information without requiring verification or multiple sources. Casualty information may refer solely to “martyrs” (the opposition and civilians) or exclude that information. The Syrian regime’s intensified military campaign on the population and opposition is not fully reported – most sources cover only stories on attacks on major cities.

*English-language, Arabic-language and French-language media are limited in different ways – publications may declare objectivity, but in fact, editors impose a certain spin, or themes on their journalists.

*I include the day’s occurrences, except when a report or update is only available later. Casualty figures are incomplete. Many victims remain unidentified, and people are unaccounted for in detention, and as during the Lebanese civil war, many have disappeared.

Today’s death toll is currently 118.

Members of a 45 person Syrian committee, Murhaf Jouejati, Afra Jalabi, and history professor Amr Al-Azm held a press conference in Berlin Germany today to discuss the USIP and German sponsored research, “The Day After, Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria.” Al-Azm said he was optimistic that a democratic government could replace the Assad regime, and must be inclusive and diverse. He expects there will be a transitional government in the near future. Afra Jalabi said that if the international community would not recognize a transitional government, then it would be premature to announce one. On Monday, President Francois Hollande, had urged the opposition to announce a “provisional, inclusive and representative” government and said he would recognize it . Al-Azm described the project’s efforts to deal with the contingencies of a transitional period. He also said there is more to be done and “those who are struggling for their lives need to be given the necessary tools, beyond just words to help bring down the regime.” http://www.euronews.com/2012/08/28/syria-s-day-after-project/
Also see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/world/europe/syrian-group-envisions-transition-from-assad.html

A car bomb went off in Jarmana today (in Damascus) killing 12, wounding more than 40 and damaging an apartment building and vehicles. The state news agency claimed that the bomb was targeting a funeral procession being held in the area.

Clashes between SAA and the opposition were reported in Tadamoun in Damascus. Clashes also occurred in Tishrin near Barzeh in Damascus.

Additional bodies were found in Daraya today. (Extremely gory video) This brings the death toll of that massacre up to 400. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixckVcFInV8&feature=share

Five local men’s bodies were found in al-Qadam today, dumped near the mosque. They had been stabbed and shot; two of their heads had been crushed. Two were identified as Anass Ahmed and Ziyad Abdulwah al-Masseri
.
The SAA shelled al-Maysar in Aleppo killing 4 persons and 17 wounded. Doctors in the Shifa hospital said the casualty rates given in the media are not accurate, that many more people are being killed.

At least 15 loud explosions were heard within just an hour in Aleppo today where fighting also took place in Maysaloon.

An FSA brigade commander in the Old City of Aleppo said 4 of his fighters had been killed in the last 2 days.

Clashes between the SAA and the FSA took place in al-Haffa in Latakia.

The Syrian government’s fighter jets bombed several areas in the city of Homs.

An air strike in Kafr Nabi in Idlib killed 13.

The SAA dropped flyers dropped by air to threaten the opposition and civilians in the Damascus area. They were signed by the Syrian Army’s and Armed Forces General Command. Whereas flyers dropped previously this summer claimed that an amnesty would be offered (there is no evidence that any amnesties were in fact offered) these state: “The Syrian army is determined to cleanse every inch in #Syria and you have only two choices: Abandon your weapons … or face inevitable death.” And that “No one will help you. They have implicated you in taking up arms against your compatriots,….They drown in their pleasures while you face death. Why? And for whom?”

The FSA claimed to have taken a missile storage site near Damascus where the regime had been altering missiles so they could convey chemical weapons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwbFZRLaZ-E&feature=share

Seven Syrians aboard a fishing boat attempting to reach Cyprus drowned last week according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

International:
Russia’s Army Chief of Staff, Nikolai Makarov said that Russia will not end or decrease its military presence in and aid to Syria – that it is not “running away,” despite some Russian media reports that the Moscow was to decrease the size of the Tartus naval center, or that the Russian navy would withdraw from the area.

Egyptian police arrested a Syrian man who allegedly threatened to blow up the Arab League’s building. The man’s parents had been killed in Syria in a battle between the SAA and the FSA. He reportedly stopped his car near the building and said he would blow it up unless the Arab League decide against Bashar al-Assad. He had no explosives in his car.

Amnesty International’s website was targeted with fake blog posts, perhaps hacking by President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters. One claimed that Amnesty had found out about prisoner abuse, executions and ‘crimes against humanity’ committed by the Syrian rebels. It called on the United Nations to levy an arms embargo on countries which support the Syrian opposition. Amnesty International removed these blog posts.

Refugees: About 10,000 Syrians are waiting near the Turkish border as they have not been permitted to cross for several days.
Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, the citadel, water-wheels and khans of Hama,

Syria Update August 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. Sherifa Zuhur)

27 Aug

Syria Update, August 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The current death toll is 202.

Casualties on Sunday updated to 260. Earlier Sunday this breakdown was given: 58 in Damascus and the outlying areas of Damascus, 20 in Dara`a, 10 in Aleppo, 8 in Hama, 6 in Homs, 5 in Idlib, 1 in Latakia and 1 in Quneitra.

The SAA shelled Zamalka in the Damacus area killing 20.

Syrian state television announced that a helicopter had crashed in the al-Qaboon area of Damascus. However, an FSA brigade claimed to have shot down the helicopter.

The SAA shelled Sahel al-Ghab in the Hama district killing ten.

The SAA bombed Ariha in Idlib province by air. The SAA also shelled Kafr Nabel in Idlib killing one and injuring others.

Many were killed yesterday in in Busrah al-Sham, reportedly all children.

Bodies of 20 persons who had been summarily executed were found in al-Moadamiyya in the district of Damascus.

14 more bodies were found in Daraya, killed by regime forces in what has been described as a massacre. These are in addition to the 320 bodies found there, of which about 220 have been identified.

SANA claimed the FSA had been pushed out of Daraya and that it will now focus on the eastern parts and suburbs of Damascus. Shelling has been ongoing and constant today in the northeastern sectors of the city where a resident reported that there was water and electricity, but that meat was unavailable, it was difficult to buy bread and that most shops are closed. The SAA shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad today.

Shelling of the city of Deir az-Zur continued yesterday heavily in the western part of the city, nearly hitting the Khaled bin Alwaleed mosque, also the Deir Alateeq neighborhood. The SAA tried to invate Joora and Alwadi.

The SAA shelled al-Jiza in Dara`a today.

The SAA shelled Zabadani yesterday and targeted civilians’ homes and injuring 10.

The Syrian opposition has produced a report, “The Day After Project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria” which provides a plan for political transition in a post-Assad Syria. The report was developed by 45 Syrians with support from the U.S. Institute for Peace and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. The USIP will present the report in Germany tomorrow. It calls for consensus-building, a revamping of the security forces and a tribunal to try former regime members for crimes against the Syrian people. USIP had released this statement earlier in August http://www.usip.org/publications/syria-and-the-day-after-project

Detentions/Kidnappings: A Syrian television program aired footage of Cunyet Unal, a photojournalist who was working for al-Hurra, when he and a colleague were captured in Aleppo. Unal’s eyes showed bruises, and he stated that he entered Syria with foreign fighters. The Turkish Foreign Minister said that Unal’s statement was coerced and held Syria responsible for his wellbeing.

Defections / Flight
Jean-Clement Jeanbart, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo has fled to Lebanon and his offices in Aleppo have been looted. He had first sought refuge with some Franciscan brothers in Aleppo. He made comments to the Vatican radio about jihadists coming to Syria to fight in the conflict.
Alaa Morely, a University of Latakia student was accused by the Syrian government of being a reporter on the Syrian opposition for Al Jazeera. She was forced to admit her “crime” on Syrian television even though her arrest was a case of mistaken identity. The Free Syrian Army exchanged some its prisoners for Alaa and she spoke to the BBC from Turkey. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19347555

International:
Iran’s Alaeddin Bourjerdi, the head of the parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security who visited Syria on Saturday and Sunday called yesterday for international help in securing the release of 48 Iranians being held hostage by the opposition since August 4th. Iran claims the hostages are pilgrims; the opposition says they include members of the Revolutionary Guards.

French President Francois Hollande issued a warning to President Bashar al-Assad that if Syria’s chemical weapons were employed, then there would be a legitimate reason for military intervention. He made the statement as part of an address to France’s ambassadors.

The United Nations head, Ban Ki-Moon said he was shocked by the Daraya massacre and demanded an independent inquiry to investigate the incident.

UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund said that $54 million is needed urgently to help Syrian refugees.

Jordan issued an appeal for $429.7 million needed to host Syrian refugees. Approximately 200,000 Syrian refugees are already in Jordan, and 17,000 of these are in the Zaatari refugee camp. The government said it anticipated that the Zaatari camp might need to host as many as 80,000. UNICEF had said that it expected about 70,000 refugees at that camp. About half of the refugees are children.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

Syria Update, August 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Aug

Syria Update, August 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The current death toll is 90.

Saturday’s death toll was at least 400. (The Local Coordination Committees claim 440 were killed yesterday and the SNC claims 445) Fifty Syrian soldiers were killed yesterday.

Lt. Jamil Hassan, the head of Syrian air force intelligence was assassinated in his Damascus office by an aide, who worked for a brigade affiliated with the FSA.

The SAA is continuing to shell Aleppo by air and from the ground. A pro-regime source claimed that opposition fighters were killed in Masaken Hanano and that earlier there were attacks on the opposition in the town of Manbij. Fierce shelling was reported yesterday in Aleppo’s Maysar, Sakhour, Suleiman Halabi, Ba’aydin, Bustan Pasha, Hollok, Bab al-Hadid, Masaken Hananon and in the towns of al-Bab and Menbej in Aleppo province.

SAA shelling is targeting Homs. Gunfire was reported in the middle of the night in Baba Amr, and injuries reported in al-Rastan about four hours ago.

The SAA assault and shelling on Dara`a continues.

There was heavy shelling of the Latakia suburbs of Jabal Turkoman and Kasab yesterday.

At least 320 bodies were found in Daraya yesterday following a five-day SAA assault on that town. The casualty figure is being reported differently in various news sources. At first 50 bodies were discovered and later yesterday, other groups of bodies, apparently many were shot execution style. Snipers shooting from the rooftops discouraged some search efforts, and killed a little girl in an automobile. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPjbPyttDSY&feature=youtu.be

Farouk Sharaa, Syria’s vice-president, met with an Iranian parliamentary delegation visiting Syria despite. rumors and opposition statements that he was under house arrest or had fled to Jordan.

The Syrian government is allegedly cutting deals to sell crude oil to companies in London, Singapore and the Middle East in order to obtain fuel – despite sanctions against it.

Defections: Eighteen officers including Maj. General Mohmmad al-Kherat, commander-in-chief of the 7th division of the SAA defected yesterday.

Lebanon: The Lebanese army and internal security forces are confiscating weapons and pursuing fighters of the pro and anti Assad actors in Tripoli except for occasional sniper fire. A sniper killed one person in Tripoli today.

International:

The UK has expressed grave concerns over the findings of large numbers of bodies in Daraya, Syria yesterday.

Refugees:
The Turkish government prevented 2,000 Syrians from crossing the border last night although it gave them aid. Turkish authorities said they had run out of space to accommodate Syrians, but hoped to be able to allow them into Turkey later today.

About a half million Palestinian refugees lived in Syria. It is estimated that about 3,000 have fled the current conflict, most to Lebanon where they are unwelcome. The rules are that Palestinians are only allowed to remain for a week, extendable to 15 days in contrast with other Syrian refugees. Many stay on illegally.
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/08/201282685450366898.html

Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

Syria Update, August 25, 2012 (institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Aug

Syria Update, August 25, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The current death toll is 142.

Many bodies were found and at least 15 were killed today in Daraya either by summary execution or otherwise by gunfire. Eight members of the al-Qassaa family were found dead from shots to the head including 3 children, their parents and other family members. Their bodies were found near Mussab ibn Umeir mosque. The bodies of 36 young men were found in a building with living wounded, and another 12 bodies were found in a different basement locations. Most had been shot execution style.
The SAA shelled Dael and Nahata in Daraya today.

Heavy clashes between the SAA and the FSA were reported in al-Jadida in Aleppo.
Aleppo’s residents accused the Syrian government of deliberate attacks on civilians, especially by air, rather than confronting the FSA on the ground.(AJ)
Their comments underscore an Amnesty International Report on the targeting of civilians in the first part of August which can be found here:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/syria-civilians-bear-brunt-battle-aleppo-rages-2012-08-23

Hazano in Idlib province was badly shelled.

At least 41 people have been killed over the last 24 hours in Damascus neighborhoods due to shelling by helicopter and artillery fire. Also, the SAA shelled Damir which is near Damascus.

Kidnappings and Arrests:

Syrian security agents raided the home of Mohammad Omar Oso, a Syrian actor and have taken him to an unknown destination. This follows on the regime’s abduction and arrest of Orwa Nyrabia a film-maker, who was supposed to board a flight to Egypt. Many other artists have been arrested and/or forced into exile. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/08/20128258285339471.html

The Syrian opposition released Hussein Omar, one of a group of Lebanese-Shi`i “pilgrims” captured May 22, 2012. His release was confirmed by Turkey and he flew back to Beirut from Turkey today. He said the other captives were safe. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/25/us-syria-lebanon-hostage-idUSBRE87O03620120825

Defections: A group of Syrian officers defected to the FSA yesterday and posted this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctkYMKFbP1k&feature=youtu.be

Borders: Iraq has completely sealed its border with Syria, after first temporarily closing the al-Qaim crossing. Iraq wants to ready camps for the refugees. The mayor of al-Qaim said there were about 102 families waiting on the Syrian side of the border, apparently without food or water. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/25/234179.html

Lebanon: Six Syrians who had been kidnapped by the al-Meqdad clan have been released as a goodwill gesture. However, four other Syrians and a Turkish national remain captives.

General Security has arrested Wael al-Khalidy who heads the High Commission for Syrian Relief at Rafik al-Hariri airport.

Gunmen near Hawsh al-Ghanem kidnapped Issam al-Houti, a Kuwaiti national who was driving a car with a Qatari license plate. They opened fire and kidnapped him in a Mercedes 300 seen driving towards Baalbak. A Syrian, Mohammad Mashhadani who was kidnapped Monday near Baalbak was released.

International: A four-person delegation from the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission is visiting Syria for two days for talks with Syrian officials. The delegation includes Alaeddin Bourjerdi, head of the Commission.

There are criticisms of America’s inaction in Syria, and more specifically, that its fears about even “non-lethal aid” falling into the wrong hands has created a convoluted or ineffective system of distribution. For example,e the US State Department claimed that it had provided 900 satellite telephones which are not in the hands of the opposition. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/is-syria-americas-responsibility/261558/

U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney said he is willing to take “whatever action is necessary” to prevent Syrian chemical weapons from spreading or falling into the wrong hands and that ground troops of US allies might be required. He also supports military action to prevent Iran from “becoming nuclear.”

The Swiss government has pledged to support the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations, an independent network of physicians to set up a field hospital at an unspecified location. It promised to contribute 55,000 Swiss francs (45,800 euros).

The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia has issued a vague threat against Turkey for its policy on Syria. ASALA was mostly active in the ‘70s and ‘80s when it carried out assassinations of Turkish diplomats. (Zaman)

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.
Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.