Syria Update, September 6, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

7 Sep

Syria Update, September 6, 2011. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Mid-afternoon death toll was 130

Yesterday’s death toll was 272.

Aleppo province: The SAA shelled al-Kallaseh and al-Sakhour in Aleppo. Clashes continued in the al-Itha`a neighborhood and the regime also shelled Qadi Askar, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sheikh Maqsood. The SAA shelled the towns of Qubtan al-Jabal and Darat Izza.

Damascus province: 23 were found dead today in Zamalka.

The SAA fired rockets on, and killed 20 in and near the Yarmouk camp which has been closed off from other areas for 2 weeks.

Clashes took place in al-Qadam and the SAA shelled both al-Qadam and al-Asali early in the morning. The SAA captured the two (civilian) brothers of an opposition leader and executed them. Heavy clashes were reported in al-Tadamon.

Dara`a province:

The SAA brought in 45 tanks to Tel Shehab, a town on the Jordanian border from which many refugees move to Jordan, to begin an offensive there and killed 4 civilians and burned and destroyed homes of the opposition, and destroyed motorbikes. The SAA has taken away 50 men whose fate is unknown. The opposition withdrew from the area.

There was a large explosion in Busra al-Sham.

The SAA also shelled the towns of Zeizoun, al-Ajami, Amouriya, Mzeirab and Heit.

There was an anti-regime protest today in Suwaida. (Suwaida is a Druze area).

Deir az-Zur province: Syrian government forces ambushed an opposition battalion killing 2 fighters in the city of Deir az-Zur, where a woman was shot in al-Matar al-Kadeem and a little girl was killed in shelling 5 were killed in al-Jura. Another child was shot by a sniper at the al-Bareed checkpoint. Government shelling killed 3 children in the town of Sfeerat Tahtani. Government forces killed 1 civilian when they targeted his car.

Homs province:

The SAA shelled Khalidyya and the old Homs neighborhoods.
Clashes were reported on the al-Sada road north of al-Rastan. Shelling on al-Rastan resulted in the deaths of 1 civilian adult and a child. Clashes took place near Qal`at al-Huss resulting in one death.

A pro-regime militia joined the SAA in fighting the opposition near the Crac des Chevaliers and in Wadi Nassara, resulting in 13 deaths.

Hama province: Protests came out in the Bab al-Qabli and Tariq Halab neighbourhoods of Hama, they demanded the fall of the regime and voiced solidarity with the beseiged cities. There are reports that tens of civilians have been killed after regime forces stormed the al-Feraya neighbourhood of Hama, the SOHR has only managed to document 4 names so far. 1 civilian was killed by a sniper in the al-Sheikh Anbar neighbourhood

Idlib province: Syrian government forces shelled Hass, Khan Shaikhoun, Kafranbal, Kafrouma, al-Rami and Salqin, killing one person in Salqin and causing injuries. Also clashes occurred in Khan Shaikhoun and Salqin.

The opposition shot down a MIG warplane at the Abu az-Zohor airport. Other opposition fighters are determined to recapture the Kuwiras military airport – in an effort begun this month to inhibit the regime’s punishing air strikes on the opposition and civilians.

Latakia province: The SAA continued shelling of Jabal Turkman and Jabal al-Akrad today.

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said that Christians (and it is not clear which Syrian Christians he speaks for) are “with the [Syrian] state, but not with “regimes.” He referred to Iraq, saying that a million Christians were lost after the fall of Saddam Hussein and that Christians are afraid of what may come next in Syria.


France’s President Hollande announced that he and the UK’s David Cameron are in agreement on the need to help the Syrian opposition establish a transitional government.

France is sending funds to 5 of Syria’s revolutionary councils in an effort to aid the opposition.

A boat carrying refugees from Syria, Iraq and Palestine sank near Ahmetbeyli in the province of Izmir, Turkey, killing 60, half of them children. There were 45 survivors of the capsizing who swam to shore.

Syrians are moving into the dilapidated Sabra refugee camp in Lebanon. The Lebanese government has no facilities for the Syrian refugees, most are paying their own rent and are not registering with the UNHCR.

A Few of 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. A poet whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time, 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.”

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.

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.

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

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest:
Basic Facts about Syria:

A brief chronology of events of the last century in 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.

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