Syria Update, September 11 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Current death toll is more than 140 including 95 unarmed civilians.
Many soldiers in the Syrian military forces are waiting for a chance to desert or defect and join the FSA. In some cases, the opposition launches fake attacks to provide cover for soldiers to flee. Others have been kept isolated in their barracks to prevent them from defecting. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Sep-11/187517-steady-stream-of-syria-army-defectors-feeds-rebels.ashx#axzz26BjTJcPT
Syrian government forces shelled the neighborhoods of Sha`ar, Masaken Hanano, al-Maysar, al-Haydariyya and al-Sakhur. Ten people were killed and 20 injured in the shelling of al-Haydariyya. Shelling of al-Sakhur in the morning killed 2 civilians. The government forces have pushed back the opposition’s efforts to enter al-Midan. Water has been restored to areas of the city.
The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bab and the towns and villages of Darat I’zza, Kafarhamra, al-Khafsa, and Kafarhalab.
An Islamic court is adjudicating in the town of al-Bab. Residents and opposition fighters elected a civilian council, a military council and the Islamic court to manage disputes in the opposition-held town. http://en.tengrinews.kz/unrest/Liberated-town-turns-to-Islamic-law-until-end-of-Syria-chaos–12853/
Syrian military shelling of the town of Mare` killed 5 men and injured others. Syrian government forces killed one man in Anjara.
Violent clashes occurred in the Uruba area of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus. 1 civilian died in the Yarmouk hospital. The SAA engaged in heavy shelling on the Hajar al-Aswad area (which has been ongoing for 2 days). The SAA shelled the last remaining surgical private hospital here which had 30 beds, killing 2 persons and wounding 24. 3 men were reported to have been killed in the neighborhood. The SAA also shelled the al-Qadam neighborhood. A businessman in al-Qaboun interviewed by Mona Mahmood (see Guardian blog) described how the regime forces leveled his auto shop a month ago and since have totally destroyed 500 shops or businesses and detained some shop owners. He believes that informers have tipped off the army that the area supports FSA and they are trying to punish all the residents.
The SAA also raided homes in the Nashr Eisha neighborhood and clashes continued in Tadomon.
There were clashes which killed 1 civilian in the town of Zabadani and clashes and shelling which killed two opposition fighters in the town of Yalda. The Syrian military moved into the al-Thiyabiya area with tanks and trucks. Clashes took place in al-Babila.
A video showed opposition fighters capturing 6 air defense force members in al-Ghuta al-Sharqiyya.
Deir az-Zur province:
Clashes took place between the regime forces and opposition fighters as the former tried to raid the al-A’rdi neighborhood of Deir az-Zur city. The Syrian military bombed neighborhoods of the city using warplanes including the al-Sheikh Yasin area and the Hamidiyya neighborhood where a rocket hit a house. Several persons were killed in the shelling of al-Baghour and 2 children killed in the shelling of al-Sheil.
The SAA also shelled the Erdi neighborhood of Deir az-Zur where clashes occurred. Syrian fighter jets bombed the city of al-Boukamal earlier today.
Hama province: Additional deaths from the shelling of Kafr Zeita — the toll is now up to 8.
Clashes took place at the Hama military airport and there were reports of defections.
Opposition fighters in Homs announced the formation of a joint revolutionary military council. A similar council formed one week ago in Aleppo. Other military councils are already operative in Syria including a joint military command council which denounced extrajudicial killings earlier in August.
Idlib province: Violent clashes were reported near the entry points to the town of Salqeen and that the Sryian military used helicopters to fire on the town, The city of Saraqeeb was shelled killing 1 civilian. Warplanes fired on Sanjar killing another civilian. The Syrian military bombarded the towns of Jabal al-Zawiya and Sarya.
Refugees/Other: 300 Filipino workers, all women and domestic workers, were repatriated and arrived in Manila today after Philippine Foreign Secretary del Rosario obtained a waiver of exit fees. 600 more want to return home.
Lebanese security forces freed 4 Syrian hostages in a midnight raid who had been kidnapped by the Meqdad clan. The 4 had been tortured and forced to confess they were rebels on al-Mayadeen television, although one is not a fighter, just an expatriate worker. The remaining Turkish hostage (in this report it is claimed that he was wounded) was released later today. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/9/12/worldupdates/2012-09-11T172133Z_1_BRE88A13N_RTROPTT_0_UK-LEBANON-SECURITY-RAID&sec=Worldupdates
A Syrian warplane was reported to have entered Turkey’s air space today.
Tarek Jacerevic, a World Health Organization spokesperson gave a briefing in Geneva on a WHO team’s visit to Homs province. 550,000 need humanitarian aid
The largest hospital (350 beds) was destroyed. Half the public hospitals and ¾ of the private hosptals are closed and the others are overwhelmed and there are reportedly only 3 surgeons. Also food, water, sanitation, education are all needed.
On the tail of an initial meeting of a 4 nation “contact group” in Cairo on the Syrian crisis, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Amir Abdolahian says Iran wants Iraq and Venezuela to join the group, thereby allowing Iran to more firmly resist the 3 country partners – Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – who have called for Bashar al-Assad to step down. The foreign ministers of the original four country contact group are supposed to meet soon, perhaps by next week.
Former Belgian premier and European lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt called for a European Union humanitarian intervention in Syria by creating a no-fly zone to inhibit attacks on civilians.
The British foreign secretary William Hague was scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi today in Cairo.
Wikileaks has released 32,000 emails from or pertaining to Syria’s Foreign Ministry. http://wikileaks.org/syria-files/releasedate/2012-09-10-13-ministry-of-foreign-affairs-and-expatriates.html
A “Die-in [for Syria]” was held in Chicago in solidarity with Syrian citizens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oa4_nEb-Wg&feature=youtu.be
Syria: A Brief Chronology
1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.
1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.
1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.
1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)
1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.
1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.
1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.
1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).
1946. The French withdraw from Syria.
1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.
1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.
1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.
1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.
1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.
1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.
1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.
1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.
1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.
1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.
1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.
1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.
1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.
1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.
1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.
1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.
1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.
1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.
1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.
2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.
2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.
2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.
2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.
2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.
2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.
2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.
2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.
2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.
2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.
2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.
2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.
2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.
2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.
2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.
2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.
2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.
2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.
2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.
2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.
2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.
2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.
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 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.