Archive | September, 2012

Syria Update, September 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

30 Sep

Syria Update, September 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 94

Friday’s revised death toll: More than 160 including 104 unarmed civilians.

A report from Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) from Syria:
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6324&cat=voice-from-the-field

Aleppo province: A major fire engulfed the medieval markets, a tourist attraction in the city of Aleppo sparked by clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition. Many shops were destroyed and some were still burning this morning. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/29/syria-crisis-idUSL5E8KT1VJ20120929?type=marketsNews
Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in the neighborhoods of Bab Antaya, al-Itha’a, Karm al-Beik, al-Kura al-Ardiyya, the al-Jandoul roundabout, al-Midan, al-Sakhour, Tariq al-Bab, and near the al-Nayrab military airport. Mortars fired at the airport damaged 2 helicopters. Clashes also occurred near the al-Madfa’iyya artillery school and a building nearby was shelled by the opposition and then burned. Shelling on Karam al-Jabal killed three persons. A sniper shot a civilian in Sleiman al-Halabi.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Anadan, Hreitan, Kafar Hamra and Tell Rifa`at.

Damascus province: Tonight it was reported that the Syrian military were carrying out arbitrary raids and arrests in the al-Qadam neighborhood. Many have fled the area of Barzeh due to raids by the Syrian military and clashes there. The opposition attacked a Syrian military checkpoint in al-Asali, killing 2 Syrian military troops.

Eight persons were summarily executed in al-Qudsiyya. The Syrian military executed five people in the town of Maaraba. The Syrian military executed 15 people in the town of al-Baytariyya. Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Hjeira. The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Artouz and the town of Saqba, killing a man in Saqba.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military overran the Shamali neighborhood in the town of al-Mozeyrib, and surrounded the town. Many were killed in clashes in the area around the town and subsequently the opposition withdrew from Mozeyrib. Reportedly, an opposition IED attack on their bus, killed 15 Syrian military troops. Heavy clashes took place in Tafas, which like Mozeirab also came under heavy shelling. The Syrian military also shelled the al-Lijah area.

Deir az-Zur: The Syrian military heavily shelled the eastern districts of the city of Deir az-Zur today. The Syrian military stormed the neighborhoods of Jbeila and Ba’ajeen in the city of Deir az-Zur and carried out raids and arrests there.

The Syrian military bombarded the towns of al-Muhasan and al-Mre’iyya, causing injuries and damaging homes.

Hassakeh province: The Syrian military forces fired on civilians from checkpoints near the Masakin al-Zubbat (officers resiences) in the city of al-Qamishli, injuring civilians today.

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Erfa and Rebda.

Homs province: Clashes raged between the opposition and the Syrian military and regime-backed militias near the villages of al-Ghasaniyya and al-Heidariyya. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Rastan.

Idlib province: The villages of eastern Ma’arat al-Nu’man were shelled by the Syrian military and electricity has been cut off. The Syrian military shot a man from the area of Jisr al-Shughour. The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Sarmin.

Latakia province: The opposition has learned that the Syrian state security branch in the city of Latakia detained Salim al-Rifa`i on the 20th of September, 2102 and charged him with being in contact with a terrorist organization, referring him on to Damascus. Al-Rifa`I is a humanitarian aid activist working with refugees and not a member of an armed group.

The Syrian military shelled the villages of Beit A’wan, Jabal al-Akrad, al-Khadra, al-Qneitra and Jabal al-Turkman. Heavy clashes took place in the village of al-Khadra.

Al-Raqqa province: The Hamam al-Turkman town of Reef al-Raqa was bombarded by regime forces, leading to several injuries.

Tartous province: The Syrian military have stormed through the Wata al-Bayda area in Banyas city carrying out raids and arrests.

Refugees: Syria’s refugees discuss their fear and their pain.
Photographs above and videos in the link below: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/AP-VIDEO-Syrian-refugees-discuss-their-pain-fear-3905389.php
http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2012/syria/

International: Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore spoke to the United nations General Assembly last night and urged members of the UN Security Council to levy sanctions on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He said the situation in Syria is “an affront to humanity” which requires a “clear and unrelenting” response. Delivering Ireland’s address to the UN General Assembly last night, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0929/breaking1.html
Al-Arabiyya claims that secret documents show that the Syrian government executed two Turkish pilots who survived a crash on June 22, when their F-4 Phantom was shot down by Syrian military. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/09/29/240805.html

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

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Syria Update, September 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

29 Sep

Syria Update, September 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s death toll: 144.

Thursday’s final death toll: 160 including 89 unarmed civilians.

A Syrian family of brothers battle against the Assad government http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5is0h6FyC51hLrG_WtqpvL6HCHxjA?docId=CNG.dbc892dd707cd35467a975f24949b937.b1

As on every Friday, numerous anti-regime protests took place across Syria. More than 50 can be seen on You Tube and here are a few:



Aleppo province: The opposition advanced today and fought fiercely for hours, moving into the Shaykh Masoud neighborhood. A pro-regime militia wounded three civilians were wounded in that neighborhood and killed a member of the Kurdish Popular Defense Committees. The Syrian military shelled al-Helk, al-Meghayer and al-Sakhour. Clashes with the opposition took place in al-Adhamiyya, Hamadaniyya, al-Itha’a, al-Jandoul, al-Saba Bahrat and the Salahaddin neighborhoods and near the artillery college in al-Ramusiyya.

The Syrian military’s shelling of Aazaz killed 9 persons. The Syrian military summarily executed 25 persons in Rashideen and heavily shelled the towns of Abizmo, Darat Izza, Hayyan, Menbaj, Ratyan. Clashes with the opposition broke out near the Kweirs military airport where a BMB military vehicle was disabled and casualties occurred on both sides. Clashes also occurred in the town of Khan Asal.

Damascus province: An explosion rocked the Syrian army headquarters in Damascus. Al-Manar denied there was any explosion, whereas al-Jazeera confirmed it. The Syrian military shelled Baraza and the al-Basatin area and carried out a series of raids and detentions in Baraza and burning houses. An explosion was heard in the neighborhood of al-Tadamon. The Syrian military alo shelled Douma, al-Sayyida Zeinab and Mu`adamiyya.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Artouz, Hamouriyya, Mesraba and Saqba and clashes with the opposition took place in Artouz. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition in the Qudsiyya neighborhood resulted in the deaths of 3 regime troops. Shelling on Qudsiyya killed four civilians including a woman and 3 year-old child.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled Dara`a al-Balad and the towns of Heet, al-Mzeyrib, al-Sahwa, Tel Shihab, Tseel and al-Yaduda and the al-Lijah area. Clashes with the opposition took place in the town of Qerfa. An explosion shook the town of Busra al-Sham.

Deir az-Zur province: Seventy year old writer and storyteller, Ibrahim Alkhareet, was extra-judicially executed by al-Assad militias along with his two sons, Somar and Rani. (Two reports mention only Somar). Alkhareet published The Convoy and the Desert and The Assassination.

A leader of an opposition battalion was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military shelled the al-Shaykh Yasin neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bukamal. Protests took place in al-Mayadin and the town of Mouhasan.

Hama province: Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were fought in the old neighborhoods of Hama and in Kazo. The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of Eqeirabat, Hamadeh, Jarjasiyya, Karnaz, Masoud, al-Mefker al-Gharbi and Souha, killing one child in al-Mefker al-Gharbi.

Homs province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the al-We’er neighborhood. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Amana al-Msheirfa and Deir Foul.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Hass, the countryside of Jisr al-Shughur, and the towns of Basamis, Jabal Shahshbo and Taftanaz. A child in Hass died from wounds received during regime shelling yesterday. Electricity has been cut off from most of the cities and towns in Idlib province.

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled al-Ghamam, killing serveral persons. The Syrian military shelled the villages of al-Mreij and Shalef. Clashes took place in the city of al-Haffe. A defected officer who had joined the opposition was killed in clashes in the al-Yunsiyya area. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Bkas, Kebina and Shirqaq, killing 1 civilian in Kebina.

Raqqah province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Turkman.

Tartus province: The Syrian military moved through the southern areas of the city of Banyas and into neighboring villages which are pro-opposition.

International: Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has proposed a two-stage plan for political transition in Syria to a meeting of ministers at a Friends of Syria session. Stage 1 would proceed from the plan for political transition adopted in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Stage 2 would involve meetings between the Syrian government and the external and internal opposition. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120928/un-un-general-assembly-iraq-syria/

U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton announced an additional $15 million in aid for humanitarian purposes and to help the civilian opposition in Syria. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-09-28/clinton-unveils-new-u-dot-s-dot-aid-in-support-of-a-free-syria

Carla Del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn will join the United Nation’s investigation into human rights abuses according to the UN Human Rights Council.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta said that the Syrian government has moved some of its stores of chemical weapons but that the main storage sites remain secure.

A Syrian shell fired from Tel Abyad landed in Akcakale Turkey, damaging a building and wounding one person.
Among Syria’s Creative Figures:

Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.

Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.

Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.

Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.

Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.

Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.

Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.

Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt, preferring to remain in Syria.

Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012). http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums releaed. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Basic Facts about Syria:

A brief chronology of events of the last century in Syria – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14703995

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

Syria Update, September 27, 2012 (Institute of MIddle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

28 Sep

Syria Update, September 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 109

Revised death toll for September 26: More than 300 Syrians including 189 unarmed civilians of whom 13 were children.

Aleppo province: The opposition fired 20 shells falling on the Syrian regime-controlled neighborhood of Sleimaniyya in Aleppo, killing 4 persons. The Syrian military shelled the Khalasa neighborhood. The Syrian military shelled al-Meyser and Masaken Hanon in the morning.

Bashir al-Hajj, commander of the Tawhid battalion says a decisive battle has begun in the city of Aleppo around 4:00 pm there: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/sep/27/syria-bloodiest-day-yet-live#block-5064736e58f99afdfd4eb17c

The Syrian Arab army began sending out an ominous text message today reading “Game over” on Syria’s two main cell phone services. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/27/syria-tells-rebels-on-mobile-phones-quotgame/

The Free Syrian Army now controls Manbej. The Syrian military shelled Anjara. Clashes took place near the Nayrab airport. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place at the outskirts of the town of Khan al-Asal, killing 3 Syrian military troops. The Syrian military’s artillery hit a civilian car on the Deir Hafar-Maskana road. Clashes in the city of Afrin killed a member of the Revolutionary Kurdish Popular Defense Committees and a member of the Salah al-Din Battalion. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Anadan, klling one civilian, and last night it shelled the villages of al-Hoota, Bshenter and Kafar Da’el last night.

Damascus province: A protest of the Youth of the Revolution took place in the al-Midan area of Damascus today:

Syrian military were posted around the same area today:

Al-Nusra Front also claimed responsibility for yesterday’s suicide attack on an Army headquarters building in Damascus.

The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Ebada, Jdeidat Artouz and al-Zabadani. A huge explosion was reported in Qudsyya and there were reports of casualities.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of al-Karak al-Sharqi and al-Mzeirab. The Syrian military carried out raids, arrests and set homes on fire in the town of Hrak. Syrian regime forces swept through farms around the town of Tassel, searching for opposition and three farmers were found dead.

Deir az-Zur province: Clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition in the city of Deir az-Zur, and shelling by the Syrian military on the city killed two civilians, one of them a physician in the morning.

Hama province: An explosion rocked the al-Bayyad neighborhood of Hama, injuring civilians. The Syrian military went on a raid and arrest campaign in the neighborhood of al-Arba`een, and set buildings on fire.

The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of Breidji, Hawash, Huwieija, Karnaz, Khatamlo, and al-Jabin. The Syrian military fired on the village of al-Zaka this morning from machineguns stationed at checkpoints in that village.

Hassake province: A pipeline transporting crude oil exploded in the Um Madfa’ area of southern Hassake after midnight. The manager of the Tal al-Bayda oil terminal has been kidnapped.

Homs province: Fierce clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in the al-Jobar and al-Sultaniyya areas of Homs and in the village of Naqeera as well as shelling by the Syrian military. The Syrian military also shelled the Khaldiyya, Jourat al-Shayyah and old neighborhoods of Homs. The Syrian military resumed its heavy shelling on al-Rastan.

The Syrian military shelled al-Dar al-Kabira, al-Ghento, Jousiyya, al-Nizariyya and al-Zira`a.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the city of Kafranbel, killing two civilians and destroying homes. The Syrian military also shelled the towns of al-Aliya, Khan Shaykhoun and Meghtrem. The corpse of a young man from Saraqeb was found near the military barracks in Mastouma, dead from a gunshot and with marks of torture. Yesterday, the Syrian military carried out a massive arrest campaign in the city of Idlib, and gathered 100 young men to verify their military service. Roadblocks were set up where arrests and interrogations took place. The Syrian military badly beat a young man, cursing him and stepping on his head, as he lost consciousness. They shot and cursed at those onlooking or who tried to help the young man.

Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military occurred near the village of Bsanqoul. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Kafarmeed, Khan Shayhoun, Mhambel and Sarmin today. The Syrian military carried out raids in the town of Ghasaniyya and clashes occurred there. A car bomb exploded near a military checkpoint on the Damascus highway, in one report identified as the Ikard checkpoint.

A 5 year old girl, Fatima Abd al-Hakim Rajwan Hani from Ma`arat Nouman died in Turkey yesterday from injuries sustained during the Eid. She had been hit by shrapnel, and her leg had been amputated.

The Syrian military shot at homes in Ariha and burned a school yesterday. A sniper killed Ahmad Albo while he was riding his motorbike.
Yesterday, in Jisr al-Shughur, Syrian military wearing civilian clothes were stopping drivers and hijacking their cars.
Latakia province: Clashes broke out between the Syrian military and the opposition in the villages of the Turkman mountain. The Syrian army has begun an offensive in the northern part of the province which is mostly controlled by the opposition in the Kurd and Turkman mountains.
The Syrian military shelled the town of Balkas.
Tartus province: In Banyas, the Syrian security forces have released some of the women whom they have detained over the last five days, but not the male detainees

Refugees: The numbers of Syrians fleeing the country is climbing rapidly. Although not all are registered refugees, already half a million have left Syria and the United Nations and other agencies are certain the numbers will rise before the end of the year. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/world/middleeast/un-says-syrian-refugee-numbers-are-surging.html
In Jordan, state security prosecutors charged 8 Syrian refugees with unlawful assembly and carrying out riots at the Zaatari refugee camp. The offenders would face three years in jail in convicted.

International: The Syrian military fired three shells on the city of Urfa in Turkey.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast was briefly pursued and shouted at by angry Syrians near the U.N. in New York. The news report does not mention that they are Syrians, see the video.

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP2e88787ce7664a768b84be2429595075.html

President Ahmadinejad of Iran said that Iran seeks to set up a contact group on Syria (similar to, but composed differently from that established by President Morsi of Egypt – comprised of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt). He did not divulge which countries had been contacted.

Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey criticized Russia, China, and Iran’s stances on the Syrian crisis, saying this has permitted a massacre to continue. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-293643-turkeys-erdogan-slams-russia-says-it-stands-by-massacre-in-syria.html

Selected Bibliography on Syria (from my book, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism IMEISS, 2005)

Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.

Abu Khalil, `Asad. “Syria and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Current History. Vol. 93, 1994.

Avi-Ran, Reuven. The Syrian Involvement in Lebanon since 1975. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1991.

Batatu, Hanna. “Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria’s Ruling Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 35, 1981.

_________. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.

_________. Syria’s Peasantry, The Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Betts, Robert B. The Druze. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Blecher, Robert. “History as Social Critique in Syrian Film: Muhammad Malas’ al-Leil and Ryad Chaia’s al-Lajat.” Middle East Report. No. 204, July-September, 1997.

Clawson, Patrick. Unaffordable Ambitions: Syria’s Military Build-up and Economic Crisis. Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989.

Davis, Uri. “Citizenship Legislation in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996.

Devlin, John. The Ba`th Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.

Drysdale, Alasdair. “The Succession Question in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 39, No. 2, 1985.

Drysdale, Alasdair and Hinnebusch, Raymond. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1991.

Early, Evelyn. “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” In Children in the Muslim Middle East. Edited by Elizabeth Fernea. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Gelvin, James. “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 26, No. 4, 1994.

_________. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1990.

__________. “State and Civil Society in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, No.2, Spring 1993.

__________. “State, Civil Society and Political Change in Syria.” In Civil Society in the Middle East. Edited by Augustus R. Norton. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

Hopfinger, Han and Boeckler, Marc. “Step by Step to an Open Economic System: Syria Sets Course for Liberalization.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 23, No. 2, November 1996.

Hopwood, Derek. Syria, 1945-1986: Politics and Society. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Kanovsky, Eliahu. “Syria’s Troubled Economic Future.” Middle East Quarterly. Vol. 4, No. 2, June 1997.

Kaplan, Robert. “Syria — Identity Crisis.” The Atlantic. Vol. 271, February, 1993.

Kayali, Ghalib. Hafiz al-Assad: Qa’id wa risala. Damascus, 1977.

Kedar, Mordechai. “The Public Political Language of the Asad Regime in Syria: Messages and Means of Communication.” Ph.D. dissertation. Bar-Ilan University, 1998.

Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.

_________. “A Reinterpretation of the Origins and Aims of the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-1927.” In Arab Civilization: Challenges, Responses, Studies in Honor of Constantine Zurayk. Edited by George Atiyeh and Ibrahim Oweiss. Albany: State University of New York, 1988.

_________. “Syrian Political Culture.” In Syria: Society, Culture, and Polity. Edited by Richard T. Antoun and Donald Quataert. Albany: State University of New York, 1991.

_________. “Syrian Urban Politics in Transition: The Quarters of Damascus during the French Mandate.” In The Modern Middle East. Edited by Albert Hourani, Philip Khoury, Philip and Mary Wilson. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.

Kienle, Eberhard. Ba’th versus Ba’th. The Conflict Between Syria and Iraq, 1968-1989. London: I.B. Tauris, 1990.

Kienle, Eberhard, ed. Contemporary Syria: Economic Liberalization between Cold War and Cold Peace. London: British Academic Press, 1994.

Lawson, Fred. “External versus Internal Pressures for Liberalization in Syria and Iraq.” Journal of Arab Affairs. Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992.

_________. “Domestic Transformation and Foreign Steadfastness in Contemporary Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 48, Winter 1994.

Lobmeyer, Hans. “Islamic Ideology and Secular Discourse. The Islamists of Syria.” Orient. Vol. 32, 1991.

Longuenesse, Elisabeth. “The Syrian Working Class Today.” Middle East Report. Vol. 15, No. 134, July-August 1985.

Ma’oz, Moshe. Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

__________. “Alawi Military Officers in Syrian Politics.” In The Military and State in Modern Asia. Edited by H.Z. Schiffrin. Jerusalem: Academic Press, 1976.

__________. Asad, Sphinx of Damascus. London: Weldenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Ma’oz, Moshe and Yaniv, Avner, eds. Syria under Assad: Domestic Constraints and Regional Risks. New York: St. Martin’s 1986.

Mardam Bey, Salma. Syria’s Quest for Independence. Reading: Ithaca, 1994.

Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.

Middle East Watch Committee, eds. Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Regime. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

Moosa, Matti. “Naqqash and the Rise of the Native Arab Theater in Syria.” Journal of Arabic Literature, 3, 1972.

Muslih, Muhammad. “The Golan: Israel, Syria and Strategic Considerations.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, 1993.

Omar, Saleh. “Philosophical Origins of the Arab Ba’th Party: The Work of Zaki al-Arsuzi.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 1996.

Perthes, Volker. “The Bourgeoisie and the Ba’th.” Middle East Report. 21, No. 3, May-June 1991.

__________. The Political Economy of Syria Under Asad. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

__________. “Si Vis Stabilatatem, Para Bellum: State Building, National Security and War Preparation in Syria.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Qudsi, Safwan. al-Batal wa al-tarikh. Qira’a fi fikr Hafiz al-Asad al-siyasi. Damascus: Dar Tlas, 1984.

Rabinovich, Itamar. Syria Under the Ba’th. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press and New York: Halstead, 1972.

Rathmell, Andrew. Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle for Syria, 1949-1961. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

Raymond, André. La Syrie d’aujourd’hui. Paris: CNRS, 1980.

Roberts, David. The Ba’th and the Creation of Modern Syria. London: Croom Helm, 1987.

Russell, Malcolm. The First Modern Arab State: Syria under Faysal 1918-1920. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1985.

Sadowski, Yahya. “Patronage and the Ba’th: Corruption and Control in Contemporary Syria.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 9, No. 4, 1987.

Schami, Rafik. Damascus Nights. Trans. by Philip Boehm. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993.

Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958. London: I.B. Tauris, 1986.

________. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Seurat, Michel. L’État de barbarie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1989.

al-Sharif, Samim. al-Musiqa fi Suriya: A`lam wa tarikh. Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa wa al-Irshad, 1991.

Sluglett, Peter and Farouk-Sluglett, Marion. “The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary Observations.” In Tarif Khalidi, ed. Land Tenure and Social Transformation in the Middle East. Beirut: American University in Berut, 1984.

Sultan, `Ali. Tarikh Suriya. Vol. 1 (1908-1918) and Vol. 2 (1918 – 1920). Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1987.

Tauber, Eliezer. The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq. Ilford, Essex, England and Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass, 1995.

Thompson, Elizabeth. “The Climax and Crisis of the Colonial Welfare State in Syria and Lebanon during World War II.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Tibawi, Abdul Latif. A Modern History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine. London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1969.

Tlass, Mustafa. L’histoire politique de la Syrie contemporaine, 1918-1990. Mustafa Tlass, Joseph Hajjar. Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1993.

Torrey, Gordon N. Syrian Politics and the Military 1945-1958. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964.

Van Dam, Nikolaos. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961 – 1980. London: Croom Helm, 1981.

Watenpaugh, Keith. “Middle Class Modernity and the Persistence of the Politics of the Notables.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 35, Number 2, May 2003.

Wedeen, Lisa. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Weulersse, Jacques. Le pays des Alouites. Vol. 1 Tours: 1940.

__________. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: Gallimard, 1946.

Zisser, Eyal. “The Syrian Army: Between the Domestic and the External Fronts.” Middle East Review of International Affairs. Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2001.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Bashar al-Assad.” In the Encyclopedia of the Arab Israeli Conflict, Edited by Spencer Tucker, Santa Barbara and London: ABC-Clio, 2008

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: Haven for Terrorists?” Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities. Vol. 2 Jamestown: Jamestown Foundation, 2005.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: From Arab Nationalists to a Security Services State.” In Zuhur, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism. Philadelphia: Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Diasporic Studies, 2005.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

Syria Update, September 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

27 Sep

Syria Update, September 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

Current death toll: More than 258 Syrians were killed today, including 130 unarmed civilians.

Revised death toll for September 25, 2012: 240 Syrians killed including 151 unarmed civilians.

Despite false reports that the Syrian opposition has been heavily armed by foreign sources, it lacks weapons and heavy arms and is trying to craft its own ammunition.
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/09/201292619552391971.html?utm_content=automate&utm_campaign=Trial6&utm_source=NewSocialFlow&utm_term=plustweets&utm_medium=MasterAccount

Maya Nasser, a Syrian journalist who worked for Iran’s Press TV. While Press TV claimed he was killed by “insurgent sniper fire,” in fact, most snipers are being paid by the Syrian security services. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/26/syrian-tv-journalist-dead-damascus?CMP=twt_gu

Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in al-Ashrafiyya, al-Sakhour and al-Zahra. A sniper shot a civilian in al-Sakhour. A sniper killed a child from Halab al-Jadida on the Awrm al-Kubra road. A sniper shot a person in al-Ansari. The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of al-Fardaws, al-Mshatiya and Maysalun.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Qubtan al-Jabal and the town of Kafrnouran, killing an adult and a child.

Damascus province: Two explosions erupted near the Syrian Arab Army’s General Headquarters, engulfing two floors of the building in flames. Two IEDs exploded just before 7:00 a.m. Syrian state television has stated that four security guards were killed, and at least 14 were injured, whereas the opposition claims that dozens were killed. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/09/26/240214.html?PHPSESSID=b7s64gciaosfaa8lcaonpjb104
40 dead bodies were discovered in the town of al-Thiyabiyya. 28 of them have so far been identified. The Syrian military shelled the city of Duma, killing a man, his 12 year old child, his wife, a 15 year old child, a woman and 2 men. In Zamalka and Mu`adamiyya, two unidentified dead civilians were found. The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Ebada, al-Eteibiyya, Hamouriyya, al-Qasimya, al-Qeysa, Yabrud and the eastern Ghuta.
The towns of Yabrud, Hamouriya, al-Qasmiya, al-Eteibiya, al-Qeysa, al-Ebada, and the eastern Ghouta.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of al-Karak al-Sharqi, al-Mzeirab, Tafas, Tel Shehab and al-Yaduda. Explosionas rocked the town of Taseel. Two opposition fighters were killed in an ambush near the town of Um Walad. A woman died in Tafas from her wounds as a result of bombardment by the Syrian military yesterday. A corpse was discovered in the town of Sanamein. A defected soldier was shot in his home in the countryside of Dara`a province.

Deir az-Zur province: Clashes were ongoing since morning in the city of Deir az-Zur. 21 persons were summarily executed in al-Joura neighborhood of Deir az-Zur including a child. 5 civilians were killed when the Judicial Coordination general registration department in the city of Deir Az-Zur was targeted. A sniper shot a civilian in al-Qusur. Regime-paid sniper fire killed one in al-Qusur. Shelling killed three persons when the city of Deir az-Zur was targeted.

When the Syrian military shelled the city of Boukamal, one was killed.

Homs province: Thirteen civilians were summarily executed in the al-Bayada neighborhood of al-Gento and Talkalah. Syrian military at checkpoints in al-Hula several injuries and the destruction of houses. The Syrian military is bombarding the city of al-Hula. The city of al-Rastan is being bombarded by regime foces which led to several injuries.

Idlib province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of Bsheiriyya, Bazabour, Deir Sanbal Ihsim, Jabal al-Wastani, Kafarsanjan, Kafartkharim, Ma`arat al-Nu`man, Sanqeel,. A woman traveling from the town of Balyan was killed by a sniper today. A young girl who had not received international treatment what she received.

Latakia province: Violent clashes took place, between Syrian regime forces and rebel fighters, in various villages of the Turkman mountain, which have been inder bombardment by regime forces.

Refugees: Mahmud Omush, the head of the Zaatari refugee camp in Syria said that a school structure is being prepared to teach 4,000 Syrian children at the camp and is to open on October 20th. A spokesperson from Jordan’s Ministry of Education said that other schools will be built at the camp and that 110 teachers have been chosen to join the camp.
Near opposition-controlled Atme, many refugees are camped, hoping to cross over to Turkey because for the last 31 days, the border has been closed to them. Each day, Turkish soldiers allow a very limited number, anywhere from 20 to several hundred persons to cross over.

International:

President Mohammad Morsi of Egypt prefaced his speech to the United Nations General Assembly with a brief statement about the Prophet Muhammad whom Muslims love and respect in an implicit reproach to those who have disrespected him and followed with a call to the assembled to help end the violence in Syria. http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbc-news/49182808#49182808

President Marzouki of Tunisia said that Tunisia would support an Arab peacekeeping force in Tunisia in a statement to AFP (Agence France Press) while at the UN General Assembly meeting

Hizbullah in Lebanon is increasingly providing support to the Syrian regime in its battle against the Syrian popular revolution. Hizbullah members are being slain in the conflict and their obituaries are not revealing the cause of death. https://apps.facebook.com/wpsocialreader/me/channels/read/content/l5Wwt?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=headline&utm_campaign=gen_redirect&denyRedirect=http%3A%2F%2Fwpsocialreader.washingtonpost.com%2Ffbwapolabs%2Fme%2Fredirect%23 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the suburbs of Homs.
Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwo

UK prime minister, David Cameron has called on world leaders to do more to stop the atrocities being committed by the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. He referred to the shocking report by Save the Children which documents childrens’ experiences in Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19724829

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

Syria Update, September 25, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Sep

Syria Update, September 25, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Current death toll: 101 including 59 unarmed civilians.

Yesterday’s revised death toll: More than 140 Syrians including 99 unarmed civilians

Aleppo province: Violent clashes took place between Syrian military forces and opposition fighters in the al-Sab’ Bahrat neighbourhood. Violent clashes continued between the opposition and the Syrian military in al-Arqoub, there were casualties on both sides and the government forces heavily shelled the area.
Footage from Arqoub neighbourhood:

Syria regime forces claimed to have swept the Arkoub area of Aleppo of opposition, but fighting continues.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data%2Fmiddleeast%2F2012%2FSeptember%2Fmiddleeast_September275.xml&section=middleeast

The Syrian military also resumed shelling on Bustan al-Qasr, and Sakhour which killed one civilian, and clashes broke out in al-Itha’ where a tank was destroyed and in Suleiman al-Halabi. The Syrian military shelled the al-Fayd neighborhood, badly wounding a 4-year old child. A sniper shot a child in the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood. The Syrian military shelled Tariq al-Bab, killing two civilians.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Atareb, Deir Hafer, Kafr-Karmin, Kafr-Halab, Kafr-Nouran, Khan al-A’sal, Khafsa and Tal Ref`at and killed a 14 year old boy in a western area of the province.

2 civilians were killed after midnight of Monday-Tuesday, 1 of them due to injuries he received by bombardment on the Qarlaq neighborhood, days ago, and a child, from the Khan al-Subul town, was killed when the car she was riding was targeted by regime forces gunfire, on the International Damascus road. The neighborhood of Hanano and al-Kalasa of Aleppo city and the Bab city of Reef Aleppo were bombarded by regime forces, and no news abour casualties have been received yet.

Damascus province: The Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for exploding seven bombs at 9:35 a.m. at the Sons of Martyrs school in Damascus near the Baytara roundabout where the shabiha and security offcers hold weekly planning meetings. The blasts wounded 20, mostly security officers.
A car exploded on the major road in neighborhood of al-Zahira al-Jadida killing two men, caused by an IED exploding near a checkpoint. The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the al-Zuhur neighborhood
The Syrian military shelled al-Zabadani. Two civilians were killed when a tank fired at their car. The Syrian military also killed three civilians in al-Bawaida. The Syrian military shelled Ma`adamiya, killing one civilian. The Syrian military shelled the towns and villages of al-A’bada, Hosh Nasri and Sheifuniyya.
Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Karak al-Sharqi, Kharbat al-Shahem, Ma`arba, Na`eema, al-Shaykh al-Msaken, and Tafs and the Syrian military tried to take over al-Shaykh Msaken. The Syrian military also shelled and carried out raids in the Sharqi neighborhood of Dael; they had shelled Da’el for the entire night. Electricity to al-Yaduda was cut off. Opposition fighters detained 3 Syrian military troops during clashes at the Jordanian-Syrian border.

Deir az Zur province: Heavy clashes occurred between the Syrian military and opposition fighters in the neighborhood of al-Joura in the city of Deir az-Zur. Twenty-four persons were killed in the city. The Syrian military shelled al-Qusur neighborhood killing 18 civilians and shelled al-Jbeila, killing 5. They also shelled al-Amal, al-Arfi and al-Hamadiyya. Last night, the Syrian military raided the home of a physician and killed him. Clashes took place at the al-Dala roundabout.

Hama province: The Syrian military has continued to carry out raids and arrests in the neighborhood of al-Araba`in in the city of Hama. Anti-regime protests took place in al-Qusur and Tariq Halab calling for freedom and the downfall of the president.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Souha using helicopters and destroying homes. The Syrian military also shelled the towns of Aqeirbat, Khatamlo and the Jabal Shahshbo area.

Homs province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the neighborhoods of Jobar and al-Sultaniyya in Homs. Syrian military at checkpoints in the Deir Ba’lba neighborhood used their weapons and shot at, and injured civilians.

Idlib province: A man injured in the Syrian military’s dawn shelling of Ma`rat al-Nu`man died later in the day and another civilian was killed in Ma`rat al-Nu`man. The Syrian military shelled `Ain al-Barda, Ihsim, al-Jabriyya, Khan Sheikhoun, Sarmin, Sunbul and Tal Khanzir, killing one in Tal Khanzir. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Bsheiriyya killing 2 civilians, a child and a woman. Electricity has been cut off in most towns, cities and villages in Idlib for three days.

Latakia province: A huge explosion took place in the neighborhood of Qunainess. The Syrian military shelled the village of Akou, killing a woman. The Syrian military shelled Ara, Dourin, Dweirka, al-Maroniyat, and Salma.

Quneitra province: Opposition fighters attacked Syrian military checkpoints in the villages of Hamidyya and Huriyya in the Jolan (Golan, and see below)

Tartus province: Banyas: The Syrian military carried out a siege and attack on the villages of al-Ahrash and al-Beida and raids. The Syrian military detained 14 civilians, including martyrs in its ongoing operations on the villages of al-Basatin, al-Basia, al-Beida and al-Qarir, where the military burned homes. At least 68 people have been detained by the regime forces in Banyas up to now including 25 women, 3 children, and more than 40 men during a 4-day campaign attacking the southern neighborhoods of the city and southern villages. Those leading the current campaign are said to be Brigadier General Muhammad Zaiti, the head of the state security department for Tartus and Brigadier General `Abd al-Karim `Abbas, the head of military intelligence in Tartus.

International: France’s President Francois Hollande called for the United Nations to immediately provide protection to liberated areas in northern Syria and said that the Bashar al-Assad regime has no future “among us” in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly. http://www.cnbc.com/id/49170082
In his speech, the Emir of Qatar, Shaykh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called for Arab countries to intervene in Syria.

Yesterday, the Save the Children report on torture was briefed to news agencies, and this brief comment captures the gist of these first-hand commentaries by children who have been prisoners or detainees. http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/25/the_worst_thing_you_will_read_today

Mortars landed on the Israeli side of the border in the Golan Heights (about one kilometer past the border) as the Syrian military and the opposition fought. http://www.times-standard.com/ci_21624921/bomb-hits-near-school-syrian-capital

The Free Syrian Army released 218 Lebanese and Syrian nationals whom they had kidnapped from the village of Rableh in Lebanon on Monday.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Sep-25/189164-over-200-lebanese-syrians-released-by-rebel-group.ashx#axzz27WihJhiL

Selected Bibliography on Syria (from my book, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism IMEISS, 2005)

Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.

Abu Khalil, `Asad. “Syria and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Current History. Vol. 93, 1994.

Avi-Ran, Reuven. The Syrian Involvement in Lebanon since 1975. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1991.

Batatu, Hanna. “Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria’s Ruling Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 35, 1981.

_________. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.

_________. Syria’s Peasantry, The Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Betts, Robert B. The Druze. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Blecher, Robert. “History as Social Critique in Syrian Film: Muhammad Malas’ al-Leil and Ryad Chaia’s al-Lajat.” Middle East Report. No. 204, July-September, 1997.

Clawson, Patrick. Unaffordable Ambitions: Syria’s Military Build-up and Economic Crisis. Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989.

Davis, Uri. “Citizenship Legislation in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996.

Devlin, John. The Ba`th Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.

Drysdale, Alasdair. “The Succession Question in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 39, No. 2, 1985.

Drysdale, Alasdair and Hinnebusch, Raymond. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1991.

Early, Evelyn. “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” In Children in the Muslim Middle East. Edited by Elizabeth Fernea. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Gelvin, James. “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 26, No. 4, 1994.

_________. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1990.

__________. “State and Civil Society in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, No.2, Spring 1993.

__________. “State, Civil Society and Political Change in Syria.” In Civil Society in the Middle East. Edited by Augustus R. Norton. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

Hopfinger, Han and Boeckler, Marc. “Step by Step to an Open Economic System: Syria Sets Course for Liberalization.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 23, No. 2, November 1996.

Hopwood, Derek. Syria, 1945-1986: Politics and Society. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Kanovsky, Eliahu. “Syria’s Troubled Economic Future.” Middle East Quarterly. Vol. 4, No. 2, June 1997.

Kaplan, Robert. “Syria — Identity Crisis.” The Atlantic. Vol. 271, February, 1993.

Kayali, Ghalib. Hafiz al-Assad: Qa’id wa risala. Damascus, 1977.

Kedar, Mordechai. “The Public Political Language of the Asad Regime in Syria: Messages and Means of Communication.” Ph.D. dissertation. Bar-Ilan University, 1998.

Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.

_________. “A Reinterpretation of the Origins and Aims of the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-1927.” In Arab Civilization: Challenges, Responses, Studies in Honor of Constantine Zurayk. Edited by George Atiyeh and Ibrahim Oweiss. Albany: State University of New York, 1988.

_________. “Syrian Political Culture.” In Syria: Society, Culture, and Polity. Edited by Richard T. Antoun and Donald Quataert. Albany: State University of New York, 1991.

_________. “Syrian Urban Politics in Transition: The Quarters of Damascus during the French Mandate.” In The Modern Middle East. Edited by Albert Hourani, Philip Khoury, Philip and Mary Wilson. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.

Kienle, Eberhard. Ba’th versus Ba’th. The Conflict Between Syria and Iraq, 1968-1989. London: I.B. Tauris, 1990.

Kienle, Eberhard, ed. Contemporary Syria: Economic Liberalization between Cold War and Cold Peace. London: British Academic Press, 1994.

Lawson, Fred. “External versus Internal Pressures for Liberalization in Syria and Iraq.” Journal of Arab Affairs. Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992.

_________. “Domestic Transformation and Foreign Steadfastness in Contemporary Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 48, Winter 1994.

Lobmeyer, Hans. “Islamic Ideology and Secular Discourse. The Islamists of Syria.” Orient. Vol. 32, 1991.

Longuenesse, Elisabeth. “The Syrian Working Class Today.” Middle East Report. Vol. 15, No. 134, July-August 1985.

Ma’oz, Moshe. Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

__________. “Alawi Military Officers in Syrian Politics.” In The Military and State in Modern Asia. Edited by H.Z. Schiffrin. Jerusalem: Academic Press, 1976.

__________. Asad, Sphinx of Damascus. London: Weldenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Ma’oz, Moshe and Yaniv, Avner, eds. Syria under Assad: Domestic Constraints and Regional Risks. New York: St. Martin’s 1986.

Mardam Bey, Salma. Syria’s Quest for Independence. Reading: Ithaca, 1994.

Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.

Middle East Watch Committee, eds. Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Regime. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

Moosa, Matti. “Naqqash and the Rise of the Native Arab Theater in Syria.” Journal of Arabic Literature, 3, 1972.

Muslih, Muhammad. “The Golan: Israel, Syria and Strategic Considerations.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, 1993.

Omar, Saleh. “Philosophical Origins of the Arab Ba’th Party: The Work of Zaki al-Arsuzi.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 1996.

Perthes, Volker. “The Bourgeoisie and the Ba’th.” Middle East Report. 21, No. 3, May-June 1991.

__________. The Political Economy of Syria Under Asad. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

__________. “Si Vis Stabilatatem, Para Bellum: State Building, National Security and War Preparation in Syria.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Qudsi, Safwan. al-Batal wa al-tarikh. Qira’a fi fikr Hafiz al-Asad al-siyasi. Damascus: Dar Tlas, 1984.

Rabinovich, Itamar. Syria Under the Ba’th. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press and New York: Halstead, 1972.

Rathmell, Andrew. Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle for Syria, 1949-1961. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

Raymond, André. La Syrie d’aujourd’hui. Paris: CNRS, 1980.

Roberts, David. The Ba’th and the Creation of Modern Syria. London: Croom Helm, 1987.

Russell, Malcolm. The First Modern Arab State: Syria under Faysal 1918-1920. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1985.

Sadowski, Yahya. “Patronage and the Ba’th: Corruption and Control in Contemporary Syria.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 9, No. 4, 1987.

Schami, Rafik. Damascus Nights. Trans. by Philip Boehm. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993.

Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958. London: I.B. Tauris, 1986.

________. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Seurat, Michel. L’État de barbarie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1989.

al-Sharif, Samim. al-Musiqa fi Suriya: A`lam wa tarikh. Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa wa al-Irshad, 1991.

Sluglett, Peter and Farouk-Sluglett, Marion. “The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary Observations.” In Tarif Khalidi, ed. Land Tenure and Social Transformation in the Middle East. Beirut: American University in Berut, 1984.

Sultan, `Ali. Tarikh Suriya. Vol. 1 (1908-1918) and Vol. 2 (1918 – 1920). Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1987.

Tauber, Eliezer. The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq. Ilford, Essex, England and Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass, 1995.

Thompson, Elizabeth. “The Climax and Crisis of the Colonial Welfare State in Syria and Lebanon during World War II.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Tibawi, Abdul Latif. A Modern History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine. London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1969.

Tlass, Mustafa. L’histoire politique de la Syrie contemporaine, 1918-1990. Mustafa Tlass, Joseph Hajjar. Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1993.

Torrey, Gordon N. Syrian Politics and the Military 1945-1958. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964.

Van Dam, Nikolaos. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961 – 1980. London: Croom Helm, 1981.

Watenpaugh, Keith. “Middle Class Modernity and the Persistence of the Politics of the Notables.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 35, Number 2, May 2003.

Wedeen, Lisa. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Weulersse, Jacques. Le pays des Alouites. Vol. 1 Tours: 1940.

__________. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: Gallimard, 1946.

Zisser, Eyal. “The Syrian Army: Between the Domestic and the External Fronts.” Middle East Review of International Affairs. Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2001.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Bashar al-Assad.” In the Encyclopedia of the Arab Israeli Conflict, Edited by Spencer Tucker, Santa Barbara and London: ABC-Clio, 2008

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: Haven for Terrorists?” Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities. Vol. 2 Jamestown: Jamestown Foundation, 2005.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: From Arab Nationalists to a Security Services State.” In Zuhur, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism. Philadelphia: Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Diasporic Studies, 2005.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

Syria Update, September 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Sep

Syria Update, September 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

Death toll: More than 70

The Syrian ministry of information said its email had been hacked when an announcement was sent to say that Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon had been fired
Some of the half-million Palestinians in Syria have fled the conflict and others have joined in. The PFLP – General Command supports Assad, but others have supported the Free Syrian Army. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0924/Syrian-conflict-makes-Palestinians-into-both-refugees-and-combatants

This video shows the brutality of Assad’s security forces and has been circulating yesterday and today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUKy-FgIMho&feature=youtu.be

A new report by Save the Children shows that children are being subjected to torture, imprisonment, abduction and are suffering from seeing the deaths of family members. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19709041

Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of B’eidin, Bustan al-Basha, al-Fardows, al-Fyed Helk, al-Kallasa, al-Masharqa. Heavy clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in Bustan al-Qasr and in al-Masharqa and Saba’ Bahrat.

An explosion shook the city of A’zaz. The Syrian military killed two children and a teenage boy at a checkpoint on the Aleppo-Mare’ highway. The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bab. The brigades of the Free Syrian Army on the western side of Aleppo came out to demonstrate their unity.

Damascus province: Three unidentified corpses were found in Barza. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in al-Hajar al-Aswad, killing several regime troops. A man who had been detained yesterday was found dead today in the Asali neighborhood. The Syrian military were destroying and bulldozing houses in the Qabun neighborhood of Damascus. A sniper shot a sniper in al-Jobar after midnight. An explosion took place in Qudsaya after midnight last night.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Eteiba, Ma`adamiyya al-Shab, Jdaidat Artouz and Mleiha. The Syrian military executed six civilians in the town of Sabina near Damascus. The Syrian military heavily shelled Duma, killing 8 civilians, and shelled al-Zabadani and Yabrud and the farms between Duma and Harasta. The Syrian military carried out raids, arrests and burnt homes in the towns of Yalda and al-Zayabiyya The body of a man who had been executed, with his hands cuffed was found close to the Air Force Intelligence Department in Ma`adamiyyat al-Sham. The Syrian military killed an opposition fighter in the eastern part of al-Ghuta.

Syrian military at checkpoints in the towns of Adra and Qatana fired on and injured civilians. Clashes broke out between the Syrian military and the opposition in the town of Thiyabiyya.

An anti-regime demonstration was held in the town of Hamouriyya; people called for the end of the regime and for freedom. The Syrian military killed three men in shelling on the town of Zamalka

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood.

The Syrian military and air force shelled Da’el, al-Karak, Mahaja, al-Na’ima, Shaykh Msakeen and the area of Wadi al-Yarmuk. A child died in Da’el from injuries from gunfire. An explosion shook the town of Tafas. One man was killed in Da’el. The Syrian military carried out raids on parts of Ibti’ and burnt homes there. An IED exploded, killing 6 soldiers in a military truck on the Shaykh Msakeen-Nawa road.

A Syrian military checkpoint was targeted in Busra al-Sham killing two Syrian regime troops.

Deir az-Zur province: Clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition in the al-Amal neighborhood. The Syrian military also shot at people in al-Amal, Ghassan `Aboud and Shar` al-Nahr.

Hama province: There were large explosions in the Tariq Halab and Ta’wuniyya neighborhoods of Hama. Clashes broke out in Tariq Halab and the Syrian military at a checkpoint in Tariq Halab shot and injured a man, his wife and child. Fierce clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition broke out in the Shaykh Anbar neighborhood. The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the al-Horaniyya neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Tamani’a and heavily shelled the towns of Rabda and Abou Ramal.

Homs province: Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in Jobar, the village of Nqeira and al-Seltanieh. The Syrian military repeatedly shelled al-Qseir, killing 4 persons, one of them a 14 year-old child. The Syrian military shelled al-Sa’en and Teirmala, killing one in Teirmala. The Syrian military killed one person in Deir B’alba after detaining him for 10 days. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Rastan.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the villages and towns of al-Jabal al-Wastani, al-Jabal al-Zawiya, Kafruma, Ma`rat al-Na`san, Mushmushan and Ram Hamdan.

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled the villages of Beit Ewan, Beit Fares, al-Khadra, and al-Midan.

Raqqa province: Heavy clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition near the outskirts of the al-Tabaqa airport. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Suluk after midnight last night. Clahes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition fighters in the towns of Tabaqa and Turkman.

Refugees: A demonstration at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan resulted in clashes with Jordanian security forces who prevented Syrian refugees from leaving the camp and used tear gas on them after some torched a tent. They were also protesting living conditions at the camp.
International:

Lakhdar Brahimi told diplomats of the U.N. Security Council that he sees no easy solution, that Bashar al-Assad is intent on keeping the regime in place and that the government is using “medieval torture” on Syrians in secret detention centers. The U.N. General Assembly will meet on Tuesday and is expected to call for condemnations of Assad. Nevertheless Russia and China are firm in support for Syria and the following article (link) claims the German foreign minister called for following the six-point peace plan that Kofi Annan had developed http://www.todayszaman.com/news-293328-un-envoy-syrias-assad-has-no-interest-in-reforms.html

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.

Syria Update, September 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

24 Sep

Syria Update, September 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

Mid-day death toll: 54

Yesterday’s final death toll: 214, of whom 140 were unarmed civilians.

The Syrian air force carried out air strikes on the Syrian opposition today, especially in Deir az-Zur and Homs provinces.

Syrian Christian opposition leader Georges Sabra told Pope Benedict XVI that if Bashar al-Assad’s government survives then that regime poses a serious threat to Christians and Muslims alike. Sabra met the Pope along with Abd al-Baset Sida, the lead of the Syrian National Council at the Vatican. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Sep-23/188926-opposition-tells-pope-syria-regime-threat-to-christians.ashx#axzz27LAr7EbB

The earlier reports that Bushra al-Assad has fled Syria have been confirmed by Syrians in the UAE. Bashar al-Assad’s sister is a pharmacist, and is now living in Dubai with her five children. Ayman Abdel Nour, editor of all4syria.com said that she left the country following “differences” with her brother.

Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled al-Marja, al-Sakhur, al-Shaykh Khudr, Suleiman al-Halabi and Tariq al-Bab in Aleppo. Heavy clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition around the Hanano barracks and in Salahaddin and Jami`yat al-Zahra. A civilian who had been shot in the head was found in Masharqa.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Jusr Nayrab, Kafarhalab, Kafarhamra, Kafarkarmeen, Ma`arat al-Arteeq and Qutban al-Jabal causing many casualities in Kafarhalab and Qubtan al-Jabal Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition also took place in Kafarhalab and Tel Rafa`at and around the Managh military airport. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Atarib. Electricity was cut off in Atarib, al-Abzamo, Batbo, Awram al-Sughra, Kafarnuran, Ma`rata, Sahara, al-Tawama and Tuqad. Footage was mounted onto You Tube of opposition fighters capturing 2 civilians who were charged with cooperating with the regime.

Damascus province: An explosion occurred at the pedestrian bridge between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Museum, in the Jisr al-Ra’is area, probably an IED. The Syrian military shelled areas between the neighborhoods of Baraza and al-Qabun and the city of Harasta. Clashes took place in the Yarmuk camp resulting in one death. Clashes took place in Jusr al-Abyad.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Harasta and al-Qteifa and a sniper killed a 4-year old child in Harasta. An evening demonstration was held in A’rbeen against the Syrian regime. Earlier today, the Syrian military or their allies set afire a mosque in A’rbeen. Mosque on fire in Arba`een http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6orUZ5XBO80&feature=youtu.be&a

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Busr al-Harir, Ghasem, Ma`raba, al-Mata’iyya, the Lijah area, and Mahja killing a little girl in Mahja. The Syrian military opened fire from checkpoints around the towns of Busra al-Sham and Mleiha al-Sharqiyya. A sniper killed two civilians in the town of Tafas and an unidentified body was found there. Gunfire was reported in al-Yaduda and al-Kateeba.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the neighborhood of al-Shaykh Yasin and Dawar Ghassan Abud. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition fighters took place in the neighborhood of Kanamat. The Syrian military resumed its heavy shelling of the city of BuKamal.

Hama province: Clashes took place in the Arba`in neighborhood killing one opposition fighter, while another died to his injuries from yesterday. The Syrian military also shot two civilians in al-Arba`in and al-Jala`.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Abu Ramal, killing three civilians including a child. The Syrian military heavily shelled the villages of Sahl al-Ghab, including al-Hawash, al-Hwaiz, and Hwaija. An anti-regime demonstration took place on the Tariq Halab road.

Homs province: The Syrian military killed 3 opposition fighters in Homs today and one died of injuries earlier received in the village of Naqeera. Naqeera has been shelled for three days and it is reported to have been thoroughly destroyed. Pro-regime armed men shot a civilian in the countryside of Homs province. According to witnesses from the area, many houses in the Naqeer village, which has been witnessing clashes and bombardment for the past 3 days, were flattened to the ground. A civilian, from the town of Ghanto, was shot by pro-regime armed men in Reef Homs.

Idlib province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Electricity in many villages, towns and cities in Idlib was cut off.

Tartus province: The Haydara al-Karar rebel battalion, based in Latakia, issued a warning to the Syrian security forces to release the detained women of the city of Banias and the village of Bayda within the next 48 hours. Women along with their infant children were detained yesterday and the previous day in raids carried out to avenge the detainment/kidnapping of Colonel Musa Haddad, the head of military security in Banyas. The Haydara al-Karar has sworn it will kill Haddad because of his cruel treatment of the citizens of Banyas.

The National Coordination Body for Change in Syria met in the Mayadeen area today. This group has had the approval of the Syrian government, but it too calls for the overthrow of Assad’s government now. However it opposes the armed struggle and calls for a ceasefire. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2x00VyIPE8Q
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19692967

International: Saudi Arabia has cancelled opera performances which were intended to be part of its festive National Day Celebrations in solidarity with the Syrian people. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/09/23/239639.html

Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi said that Iran is an important player in the region and could be helpful in solving the Syrian crisis. Although Iran has supported Bashar al-Assad thus far, Morsi said he didn’t see Iran’s participation in the four nation contact group formed recently as a negative, but rather key to solving the violence in Syria. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/23/egypt-president-iran-idINL5E8KM24E20120923

A committee has worked to assure the 890 Syrian refugee students (which include 100 Palestinians) places in the Sidon schools for the coming school year. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Sep-21/188750-sidon-successfully-finds-school-places-for-all-syrian-refugees.ashx#axzz27LAr7EbB

Syria refugees in Jordan name their children born in exile after the Jordanian king and his wife. http://jordantimes.com/syrian-refugee-newborns-named-abdullah-rania-as-token-of-appreciation

Syria: A Brief Chronology

1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.

1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.

1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.

1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)

1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.

1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.

1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.

1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).

1946. The French withdraw from Syria.

1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.

1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.

1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.

1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.

1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.

1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.

1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.

1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.

1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.

1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.

1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.

1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.

1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.

1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.

1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.

1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.

1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.

2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.

2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.

2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.

2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.

2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.

2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.

2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.

2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.

2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.

2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.

2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.

2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.

2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.

2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.

2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.

2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.

2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.

2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.

2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.

2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.

2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.