Syria Update, September 10, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

10 Sep

Syria Update, September 10, 2012.

Today’s death toll: more than 167.

Yesterday’s adjusted death toll: more than 180.

General Manaf Tlass said that French “services” and the Free Syrian Army had helped him to escape Syria and thanked the French government in an interview today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19549304

Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled the al-Sukkari area and the al-Sakhur area (killing 9 civilians and an opposition leader). The regime forces’ shelling of the al-Marja’ neighborhood killed 3 and injured others. The Syrian military also shelled Karam al-Jabal and engaged in clashes in al-Midan where 2 were killed. Clashes took place in the al-Amriya neighborhood.

Clashes took place in the al-A’rqub neighbourhood in the area surrounding the Hanano military barracks where 2 were killed. The Syrian military claims it has regained control of the Hanano barracks.

Bodies of 20 Syrian regime troops were discovered in Aleppo; they had been summarily executed on the 7th or 8th of September. They were captured when the Hanano barracks were seized by the opposition.

The Syrian regime’s military strategy in Aleppo is to isolate the areas where the opposition is strongest and repeatedly attack:
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/09/10/a-alep-damas-tente-d-isoler-les-rebelles_1757974_3218.html

Regime forces detained 1 person in Tel Rif`at and killed him. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Deir Hafir, Anjara and Maskana earlier today.

Damascus province: The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in al-Asali neighborhood. The Syrian military carried out raids in al-Tadamon and used bulldozers to dig up 17 corpses today in al-A’tqi or Hurriya Square in that neighborhood. Residents had buried those killed by the regime there during the military operations that took place there. In addition to these unearthings, a total of 36 corpses were found today in al-Tadamon who had been victims of a massacre.

Heavy clashes took place outside of the town of Yalda and apparently many of the residents fled. The Syrian regime shelled al-Zabadani, al-Eftris, Hamouriyya (one child was killed there) and Ebada. A sniper killed 1 civilian in al-Zabadani, and the body of a civilian who had been detained by the Syrian military was found in al-Nashabiyya. 3 men’s bodies were found in Ma’adamiyyat al-Sham.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Babella and has been bombarding the al-Hijariyya area near Douma.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled neighborhoods in the city of Deir az-Zur. A civilian died from his wounds in the town of Mouhasan which was shelled yesterday.

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled al-Hawash, al-Huweiz, al-Huweija, and al-Latamneh. The SAA also shelled the village of Khatmaloo. Syrian military jets bombed the town of Sahl al-Gab today.

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of Homs al-Qadima, Jourat al-Shayaha and al-Khaldiyya today.

Idlib province: The Syrian regime forces were bombarding al-Reysh, al-Shaykh Ibrahim, Meshmeyan, Hass, and Kareideen. 1 child and a woman were killed in Hass. Earlier in the day, the Syrian military shelled the city of Saraqeeb.

Latakia province: Syrian military and the opposition engaged in clashes which killed one opposition fighter in the Qastal Ma’af area.

Some media sources treat the Syrian conflict as a purely secular one pitting Alawites
against Sunni Muslims. But not all in the Alawite community support the Assad regime. http://world.time.com/2012/09/10/dissent-among-the-alawites-syrias-ruling-sect-does-not-speak-with-one-voice/

International:

Four nations’ representatives met today in Cairo – Turkey’s, Iran’s, Saudi Arabia’s and Egypt’s as part of an initiative by Egyptian President Mohammad Morsy to solve the Syrian crisis. Also in Cairo, UN-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with President Morsy and Nabil El Araby, the Arab League Secretary General. http://news.yahoo.com/egypt-hosts-meeting-4-nations-syria-push-190944789.html

The U.N’s Ban Ki-Moon opened the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council today as he called for war crimes in Syria to be punished and said he was deeply disturbed by the aeriel bombing of civilians. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged that an investigation be carried out on the Daraya massacre. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42841&Cr=human+rights&Cr1=#.UE5Gj2AuihY
Actress Angelina Jolie who is a special envoy for the United Nations is in Jordan and will visit Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp on Tuesday along with U.N. UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres and Jordan’s Foreign Minister.

The Friends of Syria group is scheduled to meet in the Netherlands on September 20, 2012. The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal will open the meeting to be attended by 50-60 countries, where the body will broaden sanctions on the Assad government.

A Few of Syria’s Historical and Archaeological Treasures:

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.

Among 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 and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was 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.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

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.

Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.

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, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012). http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums releaed. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Basic Facts about Syria:

A brief chronology of events of the last century in Syria – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14703995

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 2012: 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.

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