Syria Update, August 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
The current death toll is 202.
Casualties on Sunday updated to 260. Earlier Sunday this breakdown was given: 58 in Damascus and the outlying areas of Damascus, 20 in Dara`a, 10 in Aleppo, 8 in Hama, 6 in Homs, 5 in Idlib, 1 in Latakia and 1 in Quneitra.
The SAA shelled Zamalka in the Damacus area killing 20.
Syrian state television announced that a helicopter had crashed in the al-Qaboon area of Damascus. However, an FSA brigade claimed to have shot down the helicopter.
The SAA shelled Sahel al-Ghab in the Hama district killing ten.
The SAA bombed Ariha in Idlib province by air. The SAA also shelled Kafr Nabel in Idlib killing one and injuring others.
Many were killed yesterday in in Busrah al-Sham, reportedly all children.
Bodies of 20 persons who had been summarily executed were found in al-Moadamiyya in the district of Damascus.
14 more bodies were found in Daraya, killed by regime forces in what has been described as a massacre. These are in addition to the 320 bodies found there, of which about 220 have been identified.
SANA claimed the FSA had been pushed out of Daraya and that it will now focus on the eastern parts and suburbs of Damascus. Shelling has been ongoing and constant today in the northeastern sectors of the city where a resident reported that there was water and electricity, but that meat was unavailable, it was difficult to buy bread and that most shops are closed. The SAA shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad today.
Shelling of the city of Deir az-Zur continued yesterday heavily in the western part of the city, nearly hitting the Khaled bin Alwaleed mosque, also the Deir Alateeq neighborhood. The SAA tried to invate Joora and Alwadi.
The SAA shelled al-Jiza in Dara`a today.
The SAA shelled Zabadani yesterday and targeted civilians’ homes and injuring 10.
The Syrian opposition has produced a report, “The Day After Project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria” which provides a plan for political transition in a post-Assad Syria. The report was developed by 45 Syrians with support from the U.S. Institute for Peace and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. The USIP will present the report in Germany tomorrow. It calls for consensus-building, a revamping of the security forces and a tribunal to try former regime members for crimes against the Syrian people. USIP had released this statement earlier in August http://www.usip.org/publications/syria-and-the-day-after-project
Detentions/Kidnappings: A Syrian television program aired footage of Cunyet Unal, a photojournalist who was working for al-Hurra, when he and a colleague were captured in Aleppo. Unal’s eyes showed bruises, and he stated that he entered Syria with foreign fighters. The Turkish Foreign Minister said that Unal’s statement was coerced and held Syria responsible for his wellbeing.
Defections / Flight
Jean-Clement Jeanbart, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo has fled to Lebanon and his offices in Aleppo have been looted. He had first sought refuge with some Franciscan brothers in Aleppo. He made comments to the Vatican radio about jihadists coming to Syria to fight in the conflict.
Alaa Morely, a University of Latakia student was accused by the Syrian government of being a reporter on the Syrian opposition for Al Jazeera. She was forced to admit her “crime” on Syrian television even though her arrest was a case of mistaken identity. The Free Syrian Army exchanged some its prisoners for Alaa and she spoke to the BBC from Turkey. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19347555
Iran’s Alaeddin Bourjerdi, the head of the parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security who visited Syria on Saturday and Sunday called yesterday for international help in securing the release of 48 Iranians being held hostage by the opposition since August 4th. Iran claims the hostages are pilgrims; the opposition says they include members of the Revolutionary Guards.
French President Francois Hollande issued a warning to President Bashar al-Assad that if Syria’s chemical weapons were employed, then there would be a legitimate reason for military intervention. He made the statement as part of an address to France’s ambassadors.
The United Nations head, Ban Ki-Moon said he was shocked by the Daraya massacre and demanded an independent inquiry to investigate the incident.
UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund said that $54 million is needed urgently to help Syrian refugees.
Jordan issued an appeal for $429.7 million needed to host Syrian refugees. Approximately 200,000 Syrian refugees are already in Jordan, and 17,000 of these are in the Zaatari refugee camp. The government said it anticipated that the Zaatari camp might need to host as many as 80,000. UNICEF had said that it expected about 70,000 refugees at that camp. About half of the refugees are children.
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.