Syria Update August 5, 2012 (IMEISS … by Sherifa Zuhur)
The death toll is at least 145 today.
Heavy fighting continued in Aleppo and at least 21 died there (in addition to SAA). The SAA reported it had killed many in the opposition in the Khan al-Assal area. There were heavy clashes in the Meridien neighborhood. As warplanes continue to strafe and shell certain areas, the BBC reported that 20,000 SAA were surrounding the city. However, the FSA has held its ground in various areas that it has controlled over the last days, and previous reports showed that the FSA was actually surrounding the SAA, i.e. it may be more difficult for the SAA to move outward from the city center when and if it does. On the other hand, the FSA is far outnumbered if the above report is correct.
Other reports indicate that the SAA is still not fully assembled in Aleppo, as there is a line of troops moving from Ladhaqiyya and another from Damascus and the FSA is engaging them in Idlib to attempt to delay them.
The Syrian National Council has renewed its appeal for the 800 Syrian families trapped in Homs for more than 60 days now. The Syrian National Council also charged the Syrian leadership with a destructive policy by the SAA of hitting governmental and historical buildings. The SAA shelled Aleppo’s television building and the city hosts many important historical sites including the Citadel.
The FSA was reported to be moving toward the Qal`at Aleppo, the city’s citadel and there were clashes near the citadel.
The SAA carried out raids and summary executions in different parts of Damascus including those executed after prayers in Tamadon and al-Qazzaz at the end of its “clean-up” operation there.
The SAA killed more than 50 people in al-Shakmaskeen in Dara`. Many appear to have been burned to death. (Sorry to include these graphic images, but there are academics and other “experts” claiming that the torture and massacres by the SAA are fake) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umk65KJbERY&feature=share
The SAA and the FSA clashed near Kherbet Ghazaleh in Dar`a.
The SAA killed 15 people in Hama and 21 in Deir al-Zur province today.
There were clashes between the SAA and the FSA near the military security building in Deir al-Zur.
Iran has asked Qatar and Turkey for assistance in obtaining the release of 48 kidnapped Iranian pilgrims in Syria. There is video footage of their captors ,the Baraa Brigade stating that at least of them is a Revolutionary Guard and threatening all Iranians in Syria. They showed the military ID of that officer and his weapons permit. (the video also shows the shelling of the Salahaddin area of Aleppo) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS5tr5lquFs
Today @ReutersTech was hacked by pro-Assad individuals who posted various fabricated reports about Syria and the Middle East under the new handle @ReutersME This is a second breach of Reuters security, on Friday, Reuters’ blog was hacked and the Syrian propagandists spread false news about setbacks for the opposition.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton will travel to Turkey next week to discuss the Syrian conflict.
In Australia, hundreds rallied in support of Bashar al-Assad, and they want no foreign owers to be involved in the conflict.
Kidnappings: British journalist John Cantile and Jeroen Oerlemans (Dutch) were kidnapped in northern Syria on July 19th. They were freed a week later. Cantile reported that at least dozen of those who kidnapped him spoke English and 9 of these had London accents, 2 could not speak Arabic. They escaped the foreign jihadists with the help of the FSA.
Refugees: Syrians who have fled to Iraq complain of extreme restrictions. Some are unable to join their relatives in Iraq after the Iraqi government reversed its initial decision not to permit them into the country. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/08/2012855912682157.html
The Armenian carrier Armavia has added flights from Syria to Yerevan as some of Aleppo’s Armenians flee. However, other Armenians in Aleppo are not leaving. The Armenian population is estimated to be 60,000 to 80,000.
Defections: 3 SAA intelligence officers, Colonel Yarab al-Shara and his brother Mohammed Kan`an al-Shara and Colonel Yasir Ali Hajj defected and went to Jordan. The al-Shara brothers are from the same family as the Syrian vice-president.
Syria’s first astronaut, General Muhammad Ahmad Faris has defected and fled Syria. He met with the FSA to give them his support before leaving for Turkey.
Sergeant Malik Ahmad Alawi defected today and sent a message to Aleppo.
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
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% Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.
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