Syria Update, September 1, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

2 Sep

Syria Update, September 1, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The death toll was 162. The LCC reported 55 dead in Damascus and Damascene subrbs, 34 in Deir az-Zur, 16 in Homs, 20 in Dara`a, 18 in Aleppo, 7 in Hama, 11 in Idlib and 1 in Latakia.

Revised deathtoll for Friday is 116

Some 267 prisoners in Syrian jails were set free today; about 158 from Damascus headquarters. Many had no clothes but their underwear, marks of beatings and torture on them, and were detained for minor reasons such as a damaged ID card. They were tortured on the supposition that they might support the opposition. Those released signed a statement saying they would not be part of any demonstration. (In Syria, there is no habeus corpus, and families are not officially informed as to the fate of detainees or arrestees, they have to obtain this information via personal contacts.)

The opposition captured a military defense building in Deir az-Zur taking captives and seizing aircraft. The opposition also attacked the Hamdan military air base, but reports diverged, with Reuters saying that the opposition could not break into that base. The SAA shelled Abu Kamal resulting in many casualties.

Syrian forces continued shelling by helicopter throughout the day on the village of Taftanaz which is about 2 kilometers from a major military airbase which the opposition had attacked on Wednesday. The opposition has destroyed at least a dozen aircraft on the ground over the last week.

The SAA captured 20 people at the Sahnaya checkpoint in Jdeidat Artouz and there were clashes in Bebila, in Housh Arab and shelling of the Deir as-Safir farms. In Damascus, the SAA fiercely shelled Sayyida Zaynab. Sabina was heavily shelled, killing 5 and two mosques were hit. There was also heavy shelling and sniper fire in Tadamon and Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus.

The SAA raided the neighborhood of al-Abassiya in Dara`a al-Balad and burnt homes there. Raids were carried out in Nawa. The SAA heavily shelled villages in Lajah.

The SAA carried out a third day of raids in the city of Hassake.

In Latakia, the SAA heavily shelled the village of Sekariya.

The SAA shelled Homs today, targeting Um al-Zanar, an ancient church in Old Homs and destroying the square near it and the SAA heavily shelled Qusair in Homs today.

Activists found a grave with 7 bodies of executed persons in al-Rastan in Homs.

There was shelling of olive factories in Baedin in Aleppo today and the SAA targeted a pharmaceutical factory in Anjara.

The SAA shelled Maer Shoreen, destroying homes and causing injuries.

International: Denmark pledged two million Euros to aid Syrian refugees.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee visited Syrian refugees and opposition groups at Camp Kilis on the Turkey-Syria border today.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the new special U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria has been holding meetings in New York at the United Nations headquarters.

Thousands of Turkish supporters of Bashar al-Assad demonstrated in Antakya in southern Turkey today.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

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