Syria Update, September 22, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 Sep

Syria Update, September 22, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 180 including at least 115 unarmed civilians

A Syrian opposition commander, Riad al-Assad, says that the opposition is moving its control and command into Syria from Turkey either into Idlib province or Aleppo.

Syrians in different areas of the world return to Syria to fight for freedom.

Aleppo province: Fierce clashes took place between the Syrian military and opposition in the Suleiman al-Halabi neighborhood in Aleppo. Clashes in this area have continued for two days. In the neighboring al-Midan area, there are regime-aid snipers. Five members of one family were killed today in al-Meysar. The Syrian military shelled the Bustan al-Basha, al-Haydariyya, and al-Meysar neighborhoods, killing 5 or more civilians. Opposition reinforcements are moving into al-Sakhour and al-Sha`ar. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in the al-Jendoul neighborhood. A man from al-Bab was killed by a regime-paid sniper in the al-Qseila neighborhood of Aleppo.

The Syrian military bombarded the towns of al-Abizmo, Anjara, al-Bab, Beshqateen, Darat Izza, Deir Hafir, Kaljabrin, Khan Asal, Khan al-Sebel, Maskana, Menbej, Urum al-Kubra, killing one woman in al-Abizmo. Violent clashes took place in the towns of al-Atareb , Qastal Harami, and Urum al-Kubra, where the opposition attacked a military installation and 12 Syrian troops and one opposition fighter were killed. Clashes also took place near the village of Kafarjoum. At al-Abizmo, the opposition used mortars in their attack and it is reported that 11 Syrian troops were killed. The Syrian military targeted a passenger bus in al-Bab and killed 7 civilians – two women and five children.

Damascus province:
The bodies of 3 persons who had been summarily executed by the Syrian regime forces were discovered in the Jobar neighborhood. A protest broke out in Mezzeh where people called for freedom and an end to the Assad regime. The bodies of six civilians who had been summarily executed were found in orchards in al-Qadam. The Syrian military carried out raids and arbitrary detentions on the Yarmouk camp, and the Salhiyya and al-Qadam neighborhoods.

The Syrian military fired a rocket which fell on a bus on the Buwaida-Hjeira road, killing 7 civilians including 3 women. The Syrian military shelled Kafarbatna killing five civilians including two children and injuring more than 17. The Syrian military killed one civilian in al-Zamalka. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Ebada, the city of Qatana and the town of Hteitat al-Turkman. Clashes also took place in Hteitat al-Turkman and in Sha’ba, resulting in casualties. The Syrian military shelled the town of Saqba. One civilian in Duma died of shrapnel wounds. The Syrian military has been shelling al-Thiyaba, killing 2 civilians. The burned corpses of two men were found on the outskirts of Adra. The Syrian military sent reinforcements to Jdeidat Artouz which has been shelled since last night and early in the morning. Harasta was hit by rockets earlier today.

Dara`a province: Syrian troops at regime checkpoints in the Dara`a al-Mahatta neighborhood began shooting without cause, injuring civilians.

The Syrian military shelled the the towns of Busra al-Sham and Ma’arba. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military broke out in al-Yaduda. The Syrian military fired at checkpoints in the town of al-Herak after several Syrian military troops were attacked killed and injured there.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled different areas of the city of Deir az-Zur, including al-Ba’ajin, al-Jbeila and al-Kanamat.

The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Quriya, killing a young man. Clashes took place between the Syrian military and opposition on the highway near the town of Muhassan and the Syrian military used its artillery on the town. Violent clashes are taking place between rebel and regime forces on the highway by the town of Muhassan.

Hama province: Thirty-five bodies were discovered in the rubble of the Meshaa al-Arba`in neighborhood of Hama. Heavy clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were reported in the al-Arba`in neighborhood of Hama.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Amiqa, al-Hawash and Huweija destroying homes and causing injuries.

Idlib province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the city of Idlib detaining many residents. The Syrian regime shelled the towns of Kensafra, al-Ksheir, Mawzara, Meshmeshan, al-Rami, Senjar, and Taftanaz. The Syrian military fired on the village of Ma`ar Tamater, killing five civilians when a rocket fell on their home.

Opposition fighters shot down a fighter jet with anti-aircraft guns as it flew over Atarib.

Defections: Lieutenant Abdullah Ar-Rahmoun and two soldiers defect to the Syrian opposition here:

Raqqa province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Slouk and the town of Sir in Tel Abyad.

Borders: The Turkish army has moved in artillery and anti-aircraft missiles to the border post of Tel Abyad, where fierce clashes have been carried out between the Syrian military and opposition forces. The opposition seized control of the border post on Wednesday.

The Syrian opposition attacked a Lebanese army post at al-Arsaal. Recently the Syrian military had fired on the town of al-Arsaal. The Lebanese army sent reinforcements to the army after the opposition fled towards the mountains.
The Syrian military clashed with Jordanian forces near Sad al-Wahdeh along the Syrian –Jordanian border.

Refugees: The UAE’s Red Crescent has donated two ambulances and two buses to transport Syrian refugees across the Syrian-Jordanian border to the International Organisation for Migration at the Za`tari refugee camp. More vehicles are to arrive within days.

An unnamed French official said France is still considering the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria to help the opposition. The official claimed that France is discussing the issue with all of France’s partners on the issue, although no decision has yet been taken and approval is needed from the U.N. Security Council.

Israel’s stand on Syria may have moved from indifference to a more marked opposition to the Assad regime.

Syria’s Historical and Archaeological Treasures include: 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:

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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