Syria Update, September 17, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Current death toll: 115.
Mohammad Faris, Syrian pilot and astronaut who defected on August 4th broadcast a message on September 12th asking the Syrian army to cease killing citizens, requesting that the Syrian air force cease its raids, that the Assad regime would leave, asking the Syrian people and FSA to continue their struggle and addressing the Russian people, saying that “I lived with you for years. I know how you sought freedom. Please stand with the Syrians.” Faris had been named Hero of the Soviet Union and awarded the Order of Lenin.
Defection of Major Salah al-Hussain yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZulLeQsW80&feature=youtu.be&fb_source=message
Borders: Syrian opposition forces were able to take control over the Tal al-Abyad, al-Zaidy and Slouk areas on the Turkish border today.
Aleppo province: Fighting was extremely heavy in Aleppo today where the Syrian air force carried out air raids and the Syrian military claimed to have secured the al-Midan area from the opposition. The Syrian military and the opposition clashed in the neighborhood of Amiriyya and three opposition fighters were killed. Clashes took place near the Mabna al-Bahouth (the Scientific Research Center). Very heavy clashes occurred in the areas near the Hanano barracks and the artillery battalion in the neighborhood of al-Zahra. The opposition took over the Mudirat al-Hubub building for a time.
The Syrian military shelled al-Sahkhur, Bab al-Hadid, Jub al-Quba, Karam al-Jabal Sleiman al-Halabi, al-Shaykh Khodr, al-Qatirji, al-Sha`ar, and Shari` al-Nil neighborhoods. The Syrian military also shelled Masakin Hanano and the al-Ramusiyya areas.
A large protest took place in the al-Ashrafiyya neighborhood and demonsrators called for freedom and an end to the regime and the rule of President Assad.
The Syrian opposition destroyed 2 checkpoints on the road to the airport today. The Syrian military shelled the town of Tell Rif`at and also the town of Qabtan al-Jabal today destroying homes there. The Syrian military shelled the town of Kafarhamra, killing a 12 year-old boy.
Damascus province: The Syrian military shelled the Asali, Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam neighborhoods of Damascus today.
Clashes occurred between the Syrian military and the opposition in al-Qadam. The shelling in al-Hajar al-Aswad killed four civilians including a woman. An earlier report said that as the Syrian military tried to raid al-Hajar al-Aswad, a shell fell on on a car killing a man and women inside of it.
A sniper killed a civilian in al-Mu`adamiyya and another civilian was executed by Syrian military forces. The Syrian military shelled al-Balda and al-Zabadani. Clashes occurred in the city of Harasta. The Syrian military fired on the checkpoints into the city of Duma. The Syrian military have shelled Deir al-Assafir, Duma, Hazza, Hteitat al-Turkman, Jdeidat Artouz, Saqba, Yabrud, and Zamalka.
The residents of the town of Hamouriyya protested, demanding freedom and then end of the regime and that President Assad leave.
Dara` province: Sixteen civilians and four opposition fighters were killed in this province today.
Snipers in the pay of the Syrian government killed a civilian in Dara`a al-Balad.
The Syrian military carried out shelling on the al-Lijah area and there were clashes there with opposition forces in the towns of al-Qeiratiyya and al-Kateeba. The shelling killed five civilians including 3 women and a child. The Syrian military killed 4 opposition fighters in the clashes there.
The Syrian military fired on the town of Ghabaghib, killing three civilians. A sniper killed a woman in the town of Mehja, and another civilian from that town was detained in Damascus and then tortured to death. The bodies of two civilians from Sehm al-Jolan killed by the Syrian military or shabiha were discovered in the town of Abdin.
An explosion on the Dara`a-Damascus highway killed two civilians from Baldat al-Shaykh Miskeen.
The Syrian military also shelled the towns of Yaduda and Ma’raba and explosions were heard in Elma, Zeizoun and al-Na’ima. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Busra al-Sham, al-Karak al-Sharqi and Umm Walad.
Deir az-Zur province: Clashes broke out between the Syrian military and the opposition fighters in al-Ummal neighborhood of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military heavily shelled the Kanamat neighborhood of Deir az-Zur, destroying many buildings.
The Syrian military shelled the city of Bukamal.
Hama province: The Syrian military ambushed and killed an opposition fighter in the Ab’een area of the city of Hama. The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests within the city in the neighborhoods of Bab Qibli, al-Baraziyya, and al-Tib and on Ibn Rashed street.
Clashes took place at a Syrian military checkpoint in the Latamna area and five opposition fighters were killed.
Homs province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the Karm al-Shami neighborhood, destroying homes. The Syrian military fired on the al-Khaldiyya, Homs al-Qadima and Jourat al-Shayyah neighborhoods killing 3 civilians.
The Syrian military ambushed an opposition fighter known as `Ashiq al-Hour and killed him today in the village areas east of Homs. The Syrian military heavily shelled the city of Talkalakh. The Syrian regime bombarded the city of al-Qseir and the villages around it, killing four civilians including a woman and a child. The Syrian military shelled the town of Za’frana killing a woman and a child. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Talbisa, the village of Naqeera and the city of al-Rastan.
Idlib province: The Syrian military bombarded the towns and villages of Beinem, Ihsim and Taftanaz. Clashes took place between the Syrian military and opposition forces in the town of Abu az-Zuhur and a defected soldier was killed. The Syrian military shelled the Tal al-Sultan area of the city of Saraqeb, killing a woman and a child.
Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled the villages and towns of al-Khadra, al-Rabi`a, Salme and al-Saraya.
Raqqah province: Clashes broke out between the opposition and Syrian military in the town of Tal Abyad, killing an opposition fighter and causing casualties among the Syrian troops. It was reported that the opposition had taken over parts of that town.
Syrian jets fired missiles on the outskirts of the town of Arsaal in Lebanon which is a border town, near the upper Biqa` valley. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/syria-jets-lebonon_n_1891555.html
Paolo Sergio Pinheiro of the U.N. commission investigating human rights crimes in Syria said the committee has gathered a “formidable” body of evidence and has created a new secret list of Syrians and units which have committed war crimes. He is urging the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria stopped over in Cairo today for a meeting of the 4 party contact group – Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, however Saudi Arabia was not represented today. Brahimi will travel Tuesday to visit Syrian refugees at the Altinozu camp in the Hatay province of Turkey.
Iran’s ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast attempted to back away and deny the comments made yesterday in a rare interview with General Mohammad Ali Jafari who said that members of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force were in Syria as advisors. Mehmanparast said that the General’s comments were invalid, and “selective,” and “incorrect” and said that Iran has no military presence in the region, but he did not explain why Jafari had so commented.
U.S. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is visiting Turkey to discuss the Syrian situation with Turkish officials in Ankara. He is also to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue and counterterrorism.
Iran’s deputy Minister of Health Mohammad Hussein Nikonam said that Iran is sending 50 ambulances and medical supplies as a gift to the Syrian government.
A Few of Syria’s Historical and Archaeological Treasures are:
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.
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.