Syria Update, September 21, 2012. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

22 Sep

Syria Update, September 21, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

Current death toll: up to 100

Yesterday’s amended death toll: more than 250

Defections: 90 Syrian soldiers defected today from the infantry academy in Aleppo (AJ, YS, LN)

Abductions/Detainments: The Syrian police seized, or kidnapped three members of an opposition group, the National Coordination Body –Abdel Aziz al-Khair, Eyas Ayyash and Maher Tahan –.which up to now the Assad government had approved, after they returned from China. Five other members of the NCB were detained.

The SOHR said that 540 anti-regime demonstrations took place in Syria today. 140 in Idlib province; 117 in Hama province: 73 demonstrations in Aleppo province; 63 in Deir az-Zur province; 53 demonstrations were held in Damascus and its suburbs; 31 demonstrations in Dara` province; 20 demonstrations held in Hassake; 17 demonstrations in Raqqa province; 8 demonstrations in Latakia province; 6 demonstrations in Homs; 1 in Tartus and 1 in the Golan Heights.

Some of the protests were:

In Aleppo: Protest in al-Ashrafiyya, al-Firdaws, al-Firqan, Halab al-Jadeeda, al-Marja`, Masaken Hanano, Qadi Askar, al-Sakhour, al-Salihin, al-Sha`ar, and al-Sukkari (calling for an end to the regime and the execution of the president)
Protests in al-Abizmo, Abeen, Ain al-Arab, al-Bab, Batbo, Dabiq, Injaara, al-Jeeneh, Taqad, Souran, Ihtimeilat, Jabal Sam’aan, Halzoun, and al-Ziyadiyya. The Syrian military shelled the protesters in al-Atarib.

In Damascus province: In the Damascus neighborhoods of Barzeh, Jobar, al-Zahira, and in Ain Mineen, Daraya, Duma, Harasta, Qaara, and Yabrud.

In Daraa: in Inkhil, Yaduda, Khirbet Ghazala, al-Gharah al-Sharqiyya, Dael, al-Katiba, Tafas and Ibti’ and in the al-Kashef and Tariq al-Sadd neighborhoods in Dara`a.

In Deir az-Zur: In al-Qawriyya and in the town of al-Mayadeen.

In Hama: in the neighborhoods of Bab Qabli, al-Faraya, al-Hamidiyya, al-Jarajima, Janoob al-Mal’ab, and Tariq Halab. The Syrian regime fired on protesters in the al-Araba`een and al-Qusur neighborhood. Protests as well in the towns of KafarZeita, al-Khattab, and al-Latamna.

In al-Hasaka: Protests in the neighborhoods of al-Aziziyya, al-Salhiyye, and Ghoueiran in the city of al-Hasaka.
And protets in the cities of Amuda, al-Dirbasiyya, al-Qamishli, and Ras al-`Ain.

In Homs: In Talbisa.

In Idlib: Protests in Ariha, Bansh, Deir al-Sharqi, Sermeen, Kafarnabl, Haas, Kafrouma, Kansafrah, Kafarsijna, Khan Sheikhoun, al-Habeet, al-Rakaya, Harbnush, Mi’irtihirma, Tilmanas, Jirinjaz, Mi’irshourin, and al-Tah.

The Syrian military killed a citizen journalist, Abd al-Karim al-Oqda, known as Abu Hassan by setting his house on fire, after they assaulted the neighborhood in an attack which killed 16.
He has said, “I want to expose the crimes that the regime is carrying out… I will film until my last breath.”

Aleppo province: The Syrian military engaged in clashes with the oppositing killing 2 in Aleppo. The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of Bab Qasreen, Baideen, Masaken Hanano and Sakhour. Clashes occurred in the neighborhoods of Arqoub, Saif al-Dawla, Sayyid Ali, al-Zahra and near the Hanano barracks. Heavy clashes broke out in the Bab Nasr neighborhood and a sniper loyal to the regime was killed in Suleiman al-Halabi. In clashes near the edge of al-Midan, an opposition battalion leader was killed. The Syrian military also shelled the Firdows neighborhood, killing 1 child, and carried out raids and arrests in the Hamdaniyya neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Anadan, al-Bab, Deir Hafir, Qubtan al-Jabal, Mengh, Anjara, Kafarhamra, Anadan and Tel Rif’at.

The Syrian military opened fire on the al-Radwan Mosque in the town of Hamdaniya to prevent protests. The Syrian military shelled the town of Jeena, killing 4 civilians and also the towns of Anadan, al-Atareb and Bashuntara.

Damascus province:
The bodies of 7 civilians were found in the Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood, they have been shot at point-blank range. One report stated that 17 had been killed in Buwaida; another report said that 10 bodies were discovered in al-Qadam and in Buwaida. Heavy clashes took place in al-Mazzeh in Damascus.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Yabrud, killing 9 civilians including one woman. The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Thiyabiyya killing 4 civilians including a child. One man was killed in the town of Yalda, where explosions were heard, and the Syrian military detained and tortured to death one civilian from Qudsiyya. The Syrian military also heavily shelled Hamouriyya, Duma and Mu`adamiyya. Protests began in the town of Kiswe and the Syrian military fired on protesters. The towns of al-Maliha, Thiyabiya, Sayyeda Zeinab, Tal Farzaat and al-Nashabiya were under violent bombardment by regime forces, several civilians were injured and homes were destroyed

A sniper in Sabina shot a woman from the Fahhama neighborhood of Damascus and she later died.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Nasib tonight. Earlier the Syrian military shelled Dael, Nasib, al-Kerk al-Sharqi, al-Shajara, al-Yaduda, and Tel Shihab. Clashes with the opposition took place in Harak where it reported that the opposition destroyed a tank and that Syrian troops suffered losses. The Syrian military also carried out raids on al-Hara and al-Harak.
The Syrian regime shelled a civilian car on the road from al-Maliha al-Gharbiyya to Atshan, causing one death, one wounded and several missing. The Syrian military killed a defected soldier from Dara`a al-Balad in an ambush.
Explosions were reported in Busra al-Sham and the Syrian military shelled it by mortar and fired at it. The Syrian military attacked the town of Nahta and then embarked on home-to-home raids in the town.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled the Kanamat al al-Ummal neighborhoods. Gunfire was heard in the al-Rushdiyya neighborhood.
The Syrian military heavily shelled the city of Bukamal, and later gunfire was heard there. The Syrian military also shelled the town of al-Sour.

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the village of Mazra`at al-Akrad. Gunfire was heard in al-Zaka.

Homs province: The old neighborhoods of Homs were heavily shelled tonight. Clashes took place in the neighborhood of Bab Sbaa`, killing an opposition fighter. In Deir Ba`lba, the Syrian military tortured and killed a civilian. Clashes took place in Tari al-Silmiyya near Ma’mal al-Aghtiyya, and in Bab Tadmur.

The Syrian military shelled al-Rastan, killing 4. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military resulted in the killing of two opposition fighters in Talbisa and shelling took place there. The Syrian military shelled the town Qal`at al-Husun.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the village of Shalakh, killing one civilian, and shelled Ma`arat al-Mu`man, killing one civilian. The Syrian shelled the city of al-Zour, killing 2 and injuring 15. The Syrian military shelled al-Rami, Jerenjaz, Ma`arat al-Na`san, Sarmin, Sarjeh, Sahl al-Rouj, Ma’arat Shurin, Taftanaz. The Syrian military also shelled Ihsim, killing 2 civilians. Heavy clashes took place between Syrian regime forces and rebel fighters near the town of Nayrab town, and 5 Syrian regime troops were killed when their vehicle was targeted.

Latakia province: Heavy clashes took place between the opposition and the Syrian military in the village of Balloran.

Tartous province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in Banyas and detained women al-Haj Abu Omran family were detained. Regime forces also detained many residents, including many women in the nearby village of al-Beida. There was a report of a kidnapping of an intelligence officer who was later killed in the morning to the south of Banyas.

Yesterday, Mahmoud Wali was assassinated. This prominent Kurdish activist, active on the Kurdish National Council and in the Kurdish Revolutionary Youth Movement was known as Abu Ghandi. He was shot twice in the head by a gunman on a motorbike in front of the local council office in Ra’s al-Ain in Hassake.

International: Five persons, including two Syrians, are being tried in Turkey for military espionage and attempting to kidnap a defected Syrian army lieutenant at knifepoint. In a separate case, five other Turks will be tried for allegedly abducting a defected Syrian lieutenant colonel, Hussein Harmoush and handing him over to Syrian authorities.
(for background on Harmoush )

Italian foreign minister, Julio Terzi met with the chairman of the Syrian National Council, Abd al-Baset Sida. Terzi spoke with the media afterwards and said that he hoped China and Russia will approach the Syrian situation in a constructive way.

Syrian Women for Syria will observe a one-day hunger strike for the children of Syria on 22 September, 2012. The group asks those who strike in solidarity to donate one day’s supply of food to a Syrian charity.

U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to stop allowing weapons to be transported to Syria through Iraq’s airspace.

A two month joint UAE-Swiss investigation showed that Swiss hand grenades that had been exported to the United Arab Emirates in 2003 and 2004 went to Jordan and from there to Syria. Switzerland will temporarily freeze its arms exports to the UAE and is expected to resume them later.

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.”

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, preferring to remain in Syria.

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).’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar.

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.–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest:

Basic Facts about Syria:

A brief chronology of events of the last century in 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:

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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