Syria Update September 13, 2012. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Current death toll: 130 including 83 unarmed civilians.
Syria’s children are suffering from the conflict, and like children in conflict elsewhere in the world, their play reenacts the violence. Children do not have sufficient medicine to be treated. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08-PBLcZ8zo&feature=plcp
Aleppo province: The FSA distributed aid in the Tariq al-Bab area of Aleppo. The Syrian military shelled Tariq al-Bab today killing 15. The al-Sukkari neighborhood was shelled tonight, causing injuries and destroying homes. Clashes occurred in the Itha’a area. A violent explosion was reported at a Syrian army base in Halab al-Jadida. A sniper killed a man in the Salhin neighborhood. Three Syrian military troops were killed in clashes in the Sayf al-Dawla area of Aleppo. A sniper killed one civilian in Jabriyya. The Syrian military shelled Be’idin, and al-Me’adi. Clashes took place in the Sa`d Allah al-Jabiri Square. There were clashes in al-Midan and reports that the opposition had taken over a police department but the regime shelled the area via warplanes and recovered the police department.
Heavy clashes took place near the Aleppo international airport. The Syrian military employed helicopter gunships there.
The Syrian military shelled the towns of Tel Rifa`at, Deir Hafir and Ritan in Aleppo province. The Syrian military also shelled Khan al-Asal and Ra`el.
Dara`a province: The Syrian military detained a civilian from the village of al-Shajara and tortured him to death. A man from Nowa was badly tortured and then killed after being detained for 10 days. The Syrian military was heavily shelling al-Yaduda.
Damascus province: Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in Qazaz. Clashes took place in the Barmakeh area of Damascus; gunfire was heard in Muhajireen (but it may have been the clashes in Baramkeh). The body of one civilian was found near Yarmouk camp. Clashes occurred in the neighborhood of Daf al-Shawk involving rockets and machine guns. The Syrian military raided homes in al-Hjeira, carrying off residents and then burning their homes. Seven people were killed in the Hjeira area near Sayyida Zeinab and 10 others there were badly wounded.
Heavy clashes occurred in the city of Harasta. Among 25 civilians found in the town of Yalda who had been summarily executed were 15 Palestinians. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Douma, Hamouriyya and Yabrud, killing one civilian in Douma. The corpse of a man from Hamouriyya was found in Mu’adamiyya who had been summarily executed. Regime forces who moved into the neighborhood of Mazra`a in Harasta killed 4 men.
Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled the Ba’ajin neighborhood of the city of Deir az-Zur killing one civilian. The Syrian military also bombarded the neighborhoods of al-Erfi, al-Jbeila, al-Hamidiyya and al-Shaykh Yassin.
Hama province: The Syrian military carried out raids in the neighborhoods of Sabouniyya and Qusur in Hama, detaining residents.
The Syrian military shelled the towns of Sahl al-Ghab and Jabal Shehshbo.
Homs province: The Syrian military resumed shelling the village of al-Berj today. Earlier today, the Syrian military was bombarding al-Hula causing people to flee.
Idlib province: The Syrian military bombarded the towns of al-Bara al-Ghadfa, Hafsarjeh, Jerjenez, Kafarbatikh, Kafartharim, Meshmeshan, Salqin, and Saraqeb. Two opposition fighters were killed in clashs in Saraqeb.
The Syrian military shelled Maskana and Deir Hafir. Four persons were killed overnight (last night) in the province
Latakia province: Two IEDs exploded in the city of Latakia: one in the Qneines neighborhood and the other in the al-Amud neighborhood. Both targeted Syrian security vehicles.
The Syrian military bombarded an opposition base in the village of Marj al-Zawiya killing 5 opposition fighters and a civilian.
Today’s news from Syrian state television (in English). As in every Syrian government-controlled news report, the newscaster refers to the opposition solely as “terrorists” and is condemnatory of the states in the United Nations who are critical of Syria. I am not posting this to recommend it, nor to agree with the veracity of this reporting, but merely to give you a taste of what Syrians hear every day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgObttnVaiY
Kidnapees/Hostages Abu Ibrahim, a Syrian opposition commander who is holding ten Shi`i hostages said in an interview today near Bab al-Salameh that he is ready to release them, but fears that doing so will set reprisals underway. When he kidnapped these reported members of Hizbullah, he thought it would cause Hizbullah to reconsider its support of Bashar al-Assad, but instead it unleashed a wave of kidnappings of Syrians and others in Lebanon. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middle-east/2012/09/13/syria-rebel-sunni-jihadists-after-shiite-hostages/8J1xVpgCumyZBTWChwicnI/story.html
Pope Benedict XVI is visiting Lebanon. Some Syrian Christians are hoping for an encouraging word from the Pope for peace in Syria (although most have their own religious leadership).
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria arrived in Damascus where he was supposed to meet Bashar al-Assad today. The meeting was rescheduled for Friday, September 14.
The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking in Beirut, said that France will not provide weapons to the Syrian opposition.
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.