Syria Update, September 3, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
The current death toll: 235 (al-Arabiyya)
According to the SOHR: more than 140 including 84 unarmed civilians (of these 13 children) 24 opposition fighters, 2 defected soldiers and 34 Syrian military troops.
Aleppo province: In the city of Aleppo, the SAA shelled the al-Meyser neighborhood in the morning killing 10 civilians and fired on the al-Sukkari neighborhood killing 1. The SAA has shelled Hass, Kafrouma, Khan Shaikhoun, al-Rami, and Salqin (where 1 was killed). Clashes also took place at Salqin and Khan Shaikhoun. The SAA bombarded the city of al-Bab and killed 19 civilians including 6 women and 2 children in a single attack. The death toll in al-Bab has risen now to 34.
SAA reinforcements have arrived in Aleppo where an anonymous general has promised that the regime will oust the opposition within 10 days. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/267290/syria-army-readies-assault-aleppo.html
Damascus province: In Douma, 1 person was killed. In Hezze, the SAA shot and killed 3 civliians. The SAA shelled the towns of al-Maliha and Zabadani. The SAA fired on the al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood killing 2. The shabiha (pro-Assad militia) reportedly killed 16 young men in the al-Qabun neighborhood. The bodies of 6 civilians who had been executed were found there today. Clashes broke out between the SAA and the FSA in Sayyida Zeinab in Damascus.
In Rif Dimashq: 1 dead civilian was discovered in the town of Dumair and the bodies of 3 civilians who had been executed were found in the town of Arba`een. A car bombing took place near al-Wehde square in Jaramana, a Christian and Druze neighborhood of Damascus killing 5 civilians including a woman, Lusaper Hagupian.
Dara`a province: The SAA violently shelled the town of Nai`ma.
A soldier who had defected from the SAA was killed at a checkpoint in the city of Dar`a. The SAA killed 8 civilians on the Tafas-Dara`a highway. The SAA shelled Khirbet Ghazaleh and Inkhil.
Deir az-Zur province: The SAA was shelling the al-Ba’ajeen, the Jbeila and al-Masakin al-Sha`biyya neighborhoods today destroying homes and causing injuries. A pro-government sniper in neighborhood of Kanamat in Deir az-Zur killed 2 civilians. The SAA shelled the city of al-Bukamal killing 1 today.
Hama province: The SAA carried out house-to-house raids and arrests in the city of Hama in the al-Hawarna neighborhood. There is a heavy SAA presence in al-Feraya and at al-Jumruk square.
Homs province: The SAA has been bombarding the neighborhoods of Homs and Bab Hood in the city of Homs killing 2 civilians, one a child. The SAA is shelling the town of Talbisa.
Idlib province: The SAA is bombarding Jarjanaz killed 2. The SAA is shelling the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man by helicopter. Clashes took place in Harem killing 1. The SAA shelled the village of Ma’eterm killing 6 and two bodies were found near the town of Saraqeb. Shelling on Taftanaz killed 1 civilian and another civilian has died from his wounds after being shot by regime forces in the area of Abu az-Zuhur.
Latakia province: Clashes between the SAA and the opposition in the al-Akrad and al-Turkman mountains resulted in 11 opposition deaths. The opposition seized the al-Qasab observatory – there were clashes there and at the Nabata observatory, and in the villages of Dureen and Starba.
Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al-Zoebi said there will be no dialogue with the opposition until the Syria army defeats the opposition. Muhiedinne Lathkani, who opposes the Assad government, speaking from London said that the key to dialogue would be Assad’s departure and the dismantling of Syria’s security agencies. (AP, AJ) al-Zoebi also insulted President Morsi of Egypt saying that Morsi was spilling Syrian blood and that the only thing distinguishing him from Hosni Mubarak was his beard.
International: A Turkish man, Aydan Tufan Tekin, captured last month by the al-Meqdad clan in Lebanon as a retaliation for the capture of Hassan Meqdad by Syrian opposition fighters. In a television interview Tekin asked Turkey to work harder to release Meqdad so he could be released. He appeared ill and frail. The al-Meqdad clan still holds 4 Syrians they have also kidnapped.
The leader of Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council Abd al-Basset Sida pleaded for a humanitarian intervention and weapons to defend civilians after he met with Spain’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo today.
The UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi said in an interview with the BBC that his mission is nearly impossible. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0903/New-UN-Syria-envoy-Diplomatic-solution-nearly-impossible-video
The Russian foreign ministry reacted to an opposition statement in al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that civilian airports in Syria will be targeted by the Syrian opposition from Tuesday on because they are being used for military purposes. Russia’s foreign ministry claimed this made the opposition no different from al-Qaeda.
The Gulf Cooperation Council members speaking from Sunday’s meeting in Jeddah urged the international community to protect civilians in Syria. After the meeting, the GCC condemned the ongoing massacres that the regime is committing against civilians and called for Iran to stop interfering in GCC internal affairs and not to use force and cited an NAM interpreter’s replacement of the word “Syria” with “Bahrain” in Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s speech (Bahrain had already requested an apology from the Iranian government for this).
Refugees: 5,228 Philippine nationals now in Syria have registered to be repatriated to their country but bureaucratic procedures have been delaying their return, as all need exit visas.
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.