Syria Second Update August 8, 2012 (IMEIS ….. Sherifa Zuhur)
The death toll is 162.
The FSA reported that 100 SAA troops were killed in Aleppo. This was a result of a huge ground attack on Aleppo.
The FSA has recaptured parts of Salahaddin area in Aleppo following a counter-attack on the SAA. Just a few hours earlier, the government had claimed that it had captured all of the Salahaddin area. This video, filmed yesterday, shows the scale of the destruction in Salahaddin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_Vrmd2gbZA&feature=player_embedded
The Tawheed Brigade of the FSA destroyed five tanks and shot down an SAA MIG in Aleppo. The Brigade has a Facebook Page where it countered the reports that it had been driven out of the Salahaddin area as merely propaganda. Likewise, the Guardian’s correspondent Martin Chulov denied that they had been driven out of the area.
The SAA shelled the Assali neighborhood of Damascus.
The SAA shelled Kafr Nabel in Idlib.
The FSA has clashed with the SAA near Rastan outside of Homs.
The SAA has raided al-Muqaylaybeh in Damascus province.
The SAA shelled Abu Kamal in Deir az-Zur.
Some of the most respected opposition military groupings and commanders have signed a 11 point charter which calls for them to respect human rights and treat captives as prisoners of war. https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=508232342537240
An FSA commander claimed that FSA fighters have moved from other areas to Salahaddin today and that their total number is 7,000. If so, they are greatly outnumbered and outweaponed by the SAA forces. But he stated that they believe in their cause and know that the soldiers on the other side will defect sooner or later. He stated (as have others) that the FSA is aiding civilians who are trying to leave and providing bakeries with wheat and gas, so there is bread.
A photograph on Facebook shows an activist with a complete SA-7 system (anti-aircraft missile). This (together with today’s downing of a MIG) would corroborate a report last week that some 2 dozen of these missiles were now in the hands of the opposition. http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/in-syria-potential-threat-to-government-air-power-emerges/
International: The opposition’s military command in Damascus released a video which claimed that it had killed a Russian military advisor to the Syrian minister of defense and named that advisor as General Vladimir Kuzheyev. The Russian Defense Ministry arranged a press conference with General Kuzheyev to quell the rumor.
Kuwait is among the countries invited to attend Thursday’s meeting in Iran of those countries who have a “realistic position” on Syria, meaning they either support Assad, or have not called for him to step down. However, some Kuwaiti Members of Parliament are outraged by the invitation and do not want their government to attend. (Kuwait’s parliament has a sizeable Islamist contingent).
Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that “retired” members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian army are among the kidnapped pilgrims held in Syria, but he stated that their purpose in Syria was solely religious.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the travel agency (Samen al-Aemmeh) which booked their trip belongs to the Revolutionary Guards and caters solely to member of the Guards and their families. The article quoted a tour company employee who said “Everyone on this trip was either a Guard or a Basij militia. This wasn’t a regular tour group.” Also a source in Iran claimed that IRGC members were traveling to Syria to train the army in the guerrilla warfare tactics that have been used on the Baluch and Kurdish groups in Iran.
Haaretz reported that Turkey might agree to join in an international coalition if military action is taken against Syria. Turkish policy had emphasized giving Syria time to reform and to stop acting aggressively towards demonstrators but that Syria is obviously not listening to Turkey’s advice.
Defections: Two Syrian generals and some 35 officers including 2 colonels defected and fled to Turkey along with the latest group of about 2400 refugees.
A Youtube video was released showing Riad Hijab, the defected Prime Minister in Dara` with the opposition prior to his flight to Jordan. The Syrian Minister of Information claims that he did not flee to Jordan until today and not on Monday as reported (the purpose of his “clarification” is unclear).
About 2400 Syrians fled from the Aleppo area to Turkey bringing the total number of Syrian refugees close to 50,000.
The 3,000 Syrians in the newly opened Zaatari refugee camp have food and water, but most fled with nothing at all. They lack medicine and access to medical treatment. There is no electricity and no means of communication.
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.