Syria Update, September 4, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

5 Sep

Syria Update, September 4, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By S. Zuhur)

Tuesday’s death toll was 155. This including 80 deaths in Damascus, 18 in Douma, 10 bodies discovered in Mu’damiyya Sham, 10 bodies found in Daraya, 17 deaths in Hama, 12 in Dara`a, 15 in Aleppo, 10 in Idlib, 9 in Homs, 6 in Deir az-Zur and 4 in Latakia.

Aleppo province: Government forces bombarded the al-Sha`ar and Itha’a neighborhoods and shelled the al-Ansari (casualties there), Bab al-Hadid, al-Sukkari, al-Maysar (killing 10 civilians) and Salahadin neighborhoods of the city. Clashes took place in Salahidin killing one. An FSA brigade detained 2 Syrian soldiers in al-Amniyeh. One person was killed in Saif al-Dawla. Clashes took place near the Citadel of Aleppo. One of the wounded in Sunday’s shelling of al-Firdaws has died. A sniper killed 1 man in al-Sukkari.
Opposition-held neighborhoods are struggling with food shortages.

The SAA shelled and strafed towns and cities of Andan, Anjara, Bza’a, al-Atarib, Hreitan, Qubtan al-Jabal and Hur. Two were killed today in al-Bab, and 3 more bodies recovered there from the earlier strike.

4 Syrian troops were killed in an explosion near the town of al-Tarib. Shelling killed 2 little girls in the town of Deir Hafer at midnight last night.

Damascus province: An FSA battalion leader was killed in clashes in Yalda. There were also clashes in Beibela. The SAA shelled and fired artillery on Douma killing a civilian.

The SAA and FSA continued fighting in al-Tadamon where 6 Syrian troops were killed. Also the bodies of six men were found, their hands bound and they had been tortured. Clashes were reported Monday at midnight into early Tuesday morning at al-Yarmouk camp between members of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) -General Command and the Syrian opposition.

10 unidentifiable burnt bodies were found in Daraya.

Dara`a province: 3 civilians were killed in the province. 1 from the Busra al-Sham town was killed under torture. 1 was killed by regime forces after he was detained in the Tafs town. 1 was shot by a military checkpoint in the al-Sanamein town. The towns of al-Katiba and Kharbet Ghazala were under violent bombardment by regime forces.

Deir az-Zur Province: The FSA fired rockets on the Hamdan military air base.
The SAA shelled the city of Deri az-Zur and the town of Zgheir Jazeera.

Idlib Province: The Syrian opposition shot down three military airplanes near the Abu az-Zohur airport. The SAA shelled the town of Hbeit.

Hassake Province: Qamishli: About 1000 personnel from the regime forces’ 4th division are deployed on the outskirts of the town.
Homs Province: The governor of Homs province said the city of Homs has suffered $9 billion worth of damage. The SAA bombarded Khalidiyya and the Homs neighborhoods of Bab Hood and Safsafa. A 15 year old opposition fighter was killed in Khalidiyya. Five opposition fighters were killed in al-Qusair.

The SAA shelled al-Rastan where a defected soldier was killed.

***The Syrian military is being taxed by the conflict with the Syrian opposition. It can no longer rely on regulars and has been calling up thousands of reserve troops, many of whom will not report for duty. They don’t want to fire on fellow citizens or be killed by their own commanders and comrades. One officer believed only half of those called up have reported for duty.

Lebanon: The March 14th bloc called on Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to expel the the Syrian ambassador to Beirut, writing in a memorandum that he was culpable for kidnappings and attacks within Lebanon and to suspend a bilateral security agreement. In addition to a wave of kidnappings in Lebanon, and arrests of Lebanese officials who had planned assassinations, shells fired from Syria hit northern Lebanese border towns in Akkar on Sunday.
Al-Jazeera Arabic television’s website was hacked by supporters of Bashar al-Assad. The website was cleared of the hacking and restored its operations
Ban Ki-Moon condemned the militarization of the Syrian conflict the opposition.
German Foreign Minister Westerwelle called for a Syrian transitional government to be identified as soon as possible. He was hosting the second meeting of an international working group on the Syrian crisis.
The partner of slain Japanese journalist, Mika Yamamoto said that she had been ambushed by pro-Syrian government forces in her slaying in Aleppo on August 20th and he decried the targeting of journalists in Syria and called for an investigation into Yamomoto’s death.
Refugees: The huge numbers of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq has been reported. Less clear are how many are reaching Europe (or North America) – for there are many obstacles to refugee movement. Most have fled to Greece, but 17,000 are expected in Sweden.

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:

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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