Syria Update August 14, 2012 (IMEISS … by Sherifa Zuhur)
Today’s current death toll is more than 83.
Defections: The former prime minister of Syria, Riad Hijab spoke publicly to
urge other officials to defect from Bashar al-Assad’s government, which he said is near collapse. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/08/2012814111613499224.html
Bab al-Nasr, Sayf al-Dawla and Salahaddin districts of Aleppo were shelled today by warplanes in addition to a hospital in al-Shaar. Several areas of Aleppo were shelled over last night.
The residents of al-Qaboon in Damascus fled the area today as security forces raided other nighborhoods including Midan and al-Shaghur.
Al-Arabiyya reported that Sayyed Hassan Salim al-Meqdad, a Hizbullah member was detained by opposition fighters on Sunday after entering Syria with a group of other fighters. The media outlet had shown a video of Meqdad. Hizbullah denied the report.
The SAA and the FSA clashed in Bab al-Hawa in Idlib.
The FSA destroyed rockets belonging to the SAA near al-Ghanto in Homs.
The new Syrian prime minister, Wael Halqi said that sanctions against it had hurt only the innocent and that the matter of at least 1 million internally displaced civilians is not a United Nations’ issue.
The Syrian government has agreed to the choice of Lakhdar Brahimi as United Nations and Arab League mediator in Syria.
Kidnappings: Three Hungarians are believed to have been kidnapped. Two Hungarians were kidnapped in April in the southeast of Syria.
The United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos has arrived in Syria.
Hilary Clinton met with the French, German, British and Turkish foreign ministers to discuss Syria; how to help its refugees and plan for a post-Assad country.
Bothaina Shaaban, a key advisor of Bashar al-Assad’s has arrived in China. Shaaban was a professor of English literature, and a former translator of Hafez al-Assad.
Valerie Amos, United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, has arrived in Syria.
Switzerland expanded sanctions on the Syrian government yesterday.
The Turkish military carried out a new military exercise near the Syrian border today. It is not clear if the Turkish government intends these exercises (there were also some last week) to serve as a message to Damascus.
The organization Reporters Without Borders sent a letter to both the Syrian government and SNC president, Abd al-Basset Sida expressing concerns over attacks on journalists on both sides of the political conflict.
During a demonstration in Sweden against the Syrian government, 10 were arrested after entering the embassy illegally and allegedly causing damage.
Refugees: Photos by the BBC of the Domiz refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan are here:
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.