Syria Update, August 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
The current death toll is 90.
Saturday’s death toll was at least 400. (The Local Coordination Committees claim 440 were killed yesterday and the SNC claims 445) Fifty Syrian soldiers were killed yesterday.
Lt. Jamil Hassan, the head of Syrian air force intelligence was assassinated in his Damascus office by an aide, who worked for a brigade affiliated with the FSA.
The SAA is continuing to shell Aleppo by air and from the ground. A pro-regime source claimed that opposition fighters were killed in Masaken Hanano and that earlier there were attacks on the opposition in the town of Manbij. Fierce shelling was reported yesterday in Aleppo’s Maysar, Sakhour, Suleiman Halabi, Ba’aydin, Bustan Pasha, Hollok, Bab al-Hadid, Masaken Hananon and in the towns of al-Bab and Menbej in Aleppo province.
SAA shelling is targeting Homs. Gunfire was reported in the middle of the night in Baba Amr, and injuries reported in al-Rastan about four hours ago.
The SAA assault and shelling on Dara`a continues.
There was heavy shelling of the Latakia suburbs of Jabal Turkoman and Kasab yesterday.
At least 320 bodies were found in Daraya yesterday following a five-day SAA assault on that town. The casualty figure is being reported differently in various news sources. At first 50 bodies were discovered and later yesterday, other groups of bodies, apparently many were shot execution style. Snipers shooting from the rooftops discouraged some search efforts, and killed a little girl in an automobile. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPjbPyttDSY&feature=youtu.be
Farouk Sharaa, Syria’s vice-president, met with an Iranian parliamentary delegation visiting Syria despite. rumors and opposition statements that he was under house arrest or had fled to Jordan.
The Syrian government is allegedly cutting deals to sell crude oil to companies in London, Singapore and the Middle East in order to obtain fuel – despite sanctions against it.
Defections: Eighteen officers including Maj. General Mohmmad al-Kherat, commander-in-chief of the 7th division of the SAA defected yesterday.
Lebanon: The Lebanese army and internal security forces are confiscating weapons and pursuing fighters of the pro and anti Assad actors in Tripoli except for occasional sniper fire. A sniper killed one person in Tripoli today.
The UK has expressed grave concerns over the findings of large numbers of bodies in Daraya, Syria yesterday.
The Turkish government prevented 2,000 Syrians from crossing the border last night although it gave them aid. Turkish authorities said they had run out of space to accommodate Syrians, but hoped to be able to allow them into Turkey later today.
About a half million Palestinian refugees lived in Syria. It is estimated that about 3,000 have fled the current conflict, most to Lebanon where they are unwelcome. The rules are that Palestinians are only allowed to remain for a week, extendable to 15 days in contrast with other Syrian refugees. Many stay on illegally.
Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html
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.