Syria Update August 7, 2012 (IMEISS … by Sherifa Zuhur)
The current (late afternoon) death toll is 140
The SAA continued to shell the FSA-held areas of Aleppo today. Fierce clashes took place at midday in Bab Jnein and the Sabee Bahrat areas of Aleppo.
The Turkish lawyer Osman Karahan was killed in the Aleppo clashes according to the Turkish press.
Shabiha (militiamen) acting on behalf of the SAA killed 16 civilians in Homs near a tourist resort; 4 of them were Christian and the others may be Alawi.
Clashes between the SAA and the FSA took place in the town of Basr al-Harir in Dara`a.
The SAA shelled the town of al-Najat and the town of Tafas in Dara`a.
Bassam Mohieddin, an Alawi filmmaker was assassinated near his home in Jdaidat Artuz, outside of Damascus where there have been clashes, and executions of the opposition and civilians.
The opposition attacked an oil field in Deir az-Zur province this morning, which initiated an extremely heavy firefight with the SAA. 4 rebels and 6 soldiers were killed.
The opposition took control of security headquarters in al-Mayadeen in Deir az-Zor.
The SAA shelled Saraqeb in Idlib.
Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council met with Bashar al-Assad and the two appeared in a videotaped television broadcast today. SANA reported that in the meeting, Assad spoke of “the Syrian people and government’s determination to clear the country of terrorsts and fight terrorism without tolerance.” Jalil reportedly claimed that “no-one will break the axis of resistance of which Syria is an essential part” and he condemned the kidnapping of Shiite pilgrims.
International: King Abdullah II of Jordan said that the Assad government is incapable of changing even if Assad himself leaves power. He alluded to Assad’s plan B. A different source reported that the King said that in a worst-case scenario, Bashar al-Assad could retreat to an Alawite stronghold. ( In fact, the Alawi population has joined the resistance, and there is a branch of the opposition along the coast and within Latakia province.)
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi will briefly visit Turkey to discuss Syria and the 48 Iranians who have been kidnapped.
Commentary in many Middle Eastern newspapers saw the defection of Riad Hijab as a sign of disintegration of the Assad government, although the Russian and Chinese press claimed that the army is still strong and defections occur in all civil wars. Here is a round-up of these opinions
and a second article on the general aspects of the Russian media’s coverage:
Bahrain’s foreign ministry distanced itself from several Islamist MPs who visited Aleppo, Syria to bring aid to the opposition on the weekend, saying that they had traveled without notifying the foreign ministry. The MPs included Abd al-Halim Murad, Adel al-Mawda, and former MP Hamad al-Monahadi as well as a judge, Faisal al-Ghurair who are members of the Asala association, a salafist organization.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton held talks with the South African foreign minister and stated the need for a transition out of the bloodshed in Syria. South Africa is important to this issue since it holds a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council and has abstained from voting on sanctions on Assad’s government.
The Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter called for evidence from the Syrian crisis to be referred to the International Criminal Court. He said he is ready to support Middle Eastern countries to effect a democratic shift in Syria.
Refugees: 22,000 Iraqis have fled Syria for Iraq in the last 3 weeks as have 12,000 Syrians.
The Turkish Prime Minister’s office of Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate reports there are 44,038 Syrian refugees now in Turkey.
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.