Syria Update, September 2, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By S. Zuhur)
Current death toll: 116
Yesterday’s revised death toll: 172 including 20 regime troops.
Last week and last month were the most deadly thus far in the Syrian conflict – 1600 people died last week, and 5,440 died in the month of August.
Defections: Twenty regime soldiers including an officer defected at the Hamdan military airport in Abu Kamal.
In Damascus, two bombings were reported on al-Mehdi street in Abu Rummaneh. The FSA claimed to have attacked army headquarters, but it seems to have hit a building under construction at the headquarters which was empty at the time. Syrian State television reported 4 soldiers wounded. http://rt.com/news/blast-damascus-army-syria-173/
Even though the opposition has shown it is able to penetrate security structures in Damascus, the SAA punished areas that have shown support for the opposition today, raiding and shelling the al-Zayat and Farouk neighborhoods, destroying at least 20 buildings. In eastern Damascus in Hazza, the army stormed the area, captured and killed all the young men it could, reportedly summarily executing 27, and some buildings were set on fire.
SAA forces also broke into, destroyed, looted and burned businesses in Saqba in Damascus today.
A car bomb went off in Sbeneh a southern outlying area of Damascus near the Muaz bin Jabal mosque which is near a Palestinian refugee camp. The blast occurred last night and killed 15 people.
The opposition took control of a security building in al-Roshdiyya in Deir az-Zur.
The SAA shelled a residential building in Abu Kamal killing 33 people.
4 people were killed in Deir az-Zur by snipers.
Heavy shelling in Aleppo by the SAA in different neighborhoods including Masken Hannano. The SAA has shelled al-Bab in Aleppo district heavily. http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25116123/highlight/289671
The SAA has shelled the town of Taftanaz in Idlib. It has been under shelling this week as the opposition fought to take the military airport situated there.
The SAA attacked the al-Fan area in Hama province today killing at least 25 people, and others are missing or wounded.
Additions: 22 areas in Homs were bombed by the Syrian military yesterday: al-Qusair , Rastan , Talbiseh , Bab Amr , Sultaneyyeh , Khaldeye,] Old Homs , Jouret al-Shayah , al-Qusour , Bani Sibai’, eastern al-Buwayda , al-Dab’aah , Karm al-Shami , Bab Hood , al-Midan , al-Ghanto , Bab Draib , al-Safsafeh , al-Hamideye , Jobar , Bab Turkman , Hamideye village (outside of Al Qusair)
The Syrian National Council met in Stockholm and agreed late Saturday to elect new leadership and to become more representative in structure and procedures. It will include five or six more anti-Assad political groups (but not the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change) and its general assembly will expand to 400 members. The current SNC leader Abd al-Basset Sayda presides only until an election is held later this month.
General David Patreaus, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director arrived in Turkey today. This is his second unannounced visit in the last 6 months. It is believed that he will be discussing the Syrian crisis, PKK terror, and covert Iranian operations with government officials.
Refugees: Ever more Syrians are fleeing the country to Jordan. Some have been fighting the government and their families previously would flee to their villages when government shelling began. Since the end of Ramadan, government shelling has been so pervasive that the villages have all been shelled and even opposition fighters are taking their families to the overcrowded, troubled refugee camps, like Zaatari which houses 25,000. Some areas like Dara`a are becoming zones of fighters, soldiers and the dead. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/world/middleeast/airstrikes-push-syrians-to-refugee-camps-in-jordan.html?pagewanted=all
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: 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.
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.