Syria Update, September 16, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Current deathtoll: 93
The Syrian military and militias loyal to Bashar al-Assad are using rape as a method of torture and abuse against women, men and children. Rape takes place during raids on homes and other buildings, at checkpoints, and in detentions. A report by Women under Siege indicated that 90% of women arrested or detained are raped and that 42% were gang-raped. http://theconversation.edu.au/rape-in-syria-a-weapon-of-war-or-instrument-of-terror-8816
The Syrian military has utilized its air power against cities and towns in Syria for months killing thousands of civilians. Over the last month, the Syrian opposition began to try to fight back by directly attacking the air bases in Syria. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYO0Cow5PJU
Aleppo province: The Syrian military attacked the opposition-held neighborhood of al-Shaar and killed eleven civilians. Syrian military shelling of al-Masakin al-Sha`biyya resulted in the deaths of two civilians (one a young girl). Shelling of the al-Maghayir neighborhood resulted in one death. Shelling in al-Sukkari neighborhood very late on Saturday caused the deaths of two opposition fighters and a sniper killed an opposition platoon leader in that area. Clashes in the Arquob neighborhood led to the deaths of three opposition fighters. The Syrian military also killed an opposition fighter in the Bab al-Nasr neighborhood. The Syrian military also shelled the Akramiyya, al-Asali, Fardows, al-Mayser, al-Sakhour, Qadi Askar, and the Masaken al-Sha`biyya neighborhoods. At least two civilians were killed in Masaken al-Sha`biyya including a child. Clashes took place in the Salahaddin neighborhood. Seventeen unidentified persons were executed in the al-Athamiyya neighborhood.
Violent clashes took place in the Salaheddin neighbourhood, there were casualties from both sides. A rebel fighter died of wounds in the Masakin Hanano neighbourhood.
The Syrian air force shelled a field hospital in al-Bab causing numerous injuries. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Bab, al-Tawama, Darat Izza and Batbo. Many residents of Safeera fled in fear of the city.
Damascus province: Syrian government military forces continued shelling the al-Qadam and al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhoods killing five civilians in Hajar al-Aswad. Six dead bodies in al-Qadam. They were individuals who had been detained yesterday and then shot to death. The Syrian military forces also shelled al-Asali killing one opposition fighter.
Clashes took place in the town of Hezze and the Syrian military shelled the town of Shab`a. The Syrian military heavily shelled Duma, Mu`adamiyya, Yabrud and al-Zabadani killing 3 in Mu`adamiyya. The Syrian military opened fire at checkpoints in Ma`adamiyya.
The Syrian military carried out raids, detentions and burnt homes in Hfeir. Explosions were reported in Harasta and Duma.
Dara`a province: An explosion targeted a bus on the Kharbat Ghazala road killing seven.
Deir az-Zur province: A sniper killed a civilian in the Wadi neighborhood of Deir az-Zur and a child was killed in the shelling of the city. A sniper killed an opposition fighter near the Ghassan Abboud circle in Deir az-Zur.
The Syrian military shelled the town of Boukamel killing 2 civilians.
Hama province: The Syrian military shot a civilian from Ma’rkaba in the military barracks near Tibat al-Amam.
Homs province: The Syrian military shelled al-Rastan which killed two civilians.
The Syrian military bombarded the towns and villages of Josieh, al-Nizariyya, Qal`at al-Husn and Talbiseh. The Syrian military has deployed in force in the town of Tadmur and carried out raids and arrests there.
The Syrian military carried out a helicopter strike on the town of Kafr Aweid killing more than 10 civilians including 5 children and one woman.
International: General Muhammad Ali Jaafari, Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard admits that the Revolutionary Guard has high-level advisors in place in Syria and Lebanon. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middle-east/2012/09/16/iran-guard-admits-advisers-syria-lebanon/1VvIwvXGB0I3tXj22sXleK/story.html
Pope Benedict XVI who is visiting Lebanon again called for peace in Syria.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria has already left Syria. He only visited Damascus. During his 4 day stay at least 451 Syrians were killed, most of them civilians killed by the Syrian military. Free Syrian Army commander Abd al-Jabbar al-Okaidi said in an interview with AFP that they believe Brahimi’s mission will fail but that he, Col. Qassem Saadeddine, the FSA’s spokesperson and Colonel Khaled Hobous had spoken to Brahimi explaining that the international community should not push the opposition to engage in talks with the regime without convincing the government to cease its military actions.
Iraq’s vice-president, Tariq al-Hashmi, who is now a fugitive from Iraq, and in Turkey, said that Iranian arms and ammunition are moving into Syria via Iraq and that Iraq is allowing Iran to use its air space. He also claimed that thousands of Iraqi militia fighters were inside Syria, supporting Bashar al-Assad “and killing innocent people.” Iraqi militia fighters, had according to his information http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/9/17/worldupdates/2012-09-16T144000Z_1_BRE88F07X_RTROPTT_0_UK-IRAQ-HASHEMI&sec=Worldupdates
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.