Syria Update August 22, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Today’s death toll is 161.
Yesterday’s updated death toll is more than 250.
In Aleppo there was heavy shelling on the opposition which tried to retake territory in the Saif al-Dawla area.
An SAA offensive via tanks and helicopters targeted southern Damascus today. 22 people were killed in Kfar Souseh and 25 in Nahr Eisha (22 of these were reportedly killed by summary execution). Twenty-two tanks remained in Kafr Souseh in the evening, each manned by approximately 30 soldiers who were carrying out house-to-house raids and executing people. Among the executed was Mohammed Saeed al-Odeh, a journalist in charge of the cultural section of Tishrin, a state newspaper who the SAA believed to be in favor of the opposition.
An SAA offensive was waged on al-Qabun in Damascus and 30 were killed there.
The FSA shot down an SAA helicopter in Ariha in Idlib province.
The SAA shelled al-Daal in Dara`a. The SAA also shelled al-Harak in Dara`a killing Omar al-Hamed al-Zamel. In al-Harak, nine people were summarily executed.
The SAA shelled the town of Boukamel in Deir az-Zur. The opposition took over some security headquarters in the town of Abu Kamel in Deir az-Zur.
Borders: The SAA has pulled out of two security installations on border with Iraq at Albu Kamel after about a week of very heavy fighting there.
Ole Abbas, a Syrian media host who defected in July, tells her story to journalists who interview her in Paris. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/syrian-radio-and-tv-host-ola-abbas-defects-to-join-rebellion-a-851387.html
A Syrian naval colonel defects and joins the opposition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5OsUiY9sWU&feature=youtube_gdata
Lebanon: The death toll from Sunni-Alawi fighting in Tripoli has risen to 12 with at least 100 wounded.
International: The European Union’s commissioner for humanitarian aid, Kristalina Georgieva, European Union is urging the United Nations Security Council to make certain that aid reaches the more than 2.5 million people who need aid inside of Syria. She also suggested that the idea of a safe ‘corridor’ was impractical because “where do you put it” when fighting is everywhere.
Mario Zenari, the Vatican’s envoy to Syria blamed both sides for human rights violations in the conflict and called for them to respect humanitarian law.
France’s Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault said on BFMTV-RMC radio that France is providing the Syrian opposition with non-lethal military aid such as help with communications. He said Assad must stand down.
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.