Syria Update, September 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur
Mid-day death toll: 54
Yesterday’s final death toll: 214, of whom 140 were unarmed civilians.
The Syrian air force carried out air strikes on the Syrian opposition today, especially in Deir az-Zur and Homs provinces.
Syrian Christian opposition leader Georges Sabra told Pope Benedict XVI that if Bashar al-Assad’s government survives then that regime poses a serious threat to Christians and Muslims alike. Sabra met the Pope along with Abd al-Baset Sida, the lead of the Syrian National Council at the Vatican. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Sep-23/188926-opposition-tells-pope-syria-regime-threat-to-christians.ashx#axzz27LAr7EbB
The earlier reports that Bushra al-Assad has fled Syria have been confirmed by Syrians in the UAE. Bashar al-Assad’s sister is a pharmacist, and is now living in Dubai with her five children. Ayman Abdel Nour, editor of all4syria.com said that she left the country following “differences” with her brother.
Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled al-Marja, al-Sakhur, al-Shaykh Khudr, Suleiman al-Halabi and Tariq al-Bab in Aleppo. Heavy clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition around the Hanano barracks and in Salahaddin and Jami`yat al-Zahra. A civilian who had been shot in the head was found in Masharqa.
The Syrian military shelled the towns of Jusr Nayrab, Kafarhalab, Kafarhamra, Kafarkarmeen, Ma`arat al-Arteeq and Qutban al-Jabal causing many casualities in Kafarhalab and Qubtan al-Jabal Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition also took place in Kafarhalab and Tel Rafa`at and around the Managh military airport. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Atarib. Electricity was cut off in Atarib, al-Abzamo, Batbo, Awram al-Sughra, Kafarnuran, Ma`rata, Sahara, al-Tawama and Tuqad. Footage was mounted onto You Tube of opposition fighters capturing 2 civilians who were charged with cooperating with the regime.
Damascus province: An explosion occurred at the pedestrian bridge between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Museum, in the Jisr al-Ra’is area, probably an IED. The Syrian military shelled areas between the neighborhoods of Baraza and al-Qabun and the city of Harasta. Clashes took place in the Yarmuk camp resulting in one death. Clashes took place in Jusr al-Abyad.
The Syrian military shelled the towns of Harasta and al-Qteifa and a sniper killed a 4-year old child in Harasta. An evening demonstration was held in A’rbeen against the Syrian regime. Earlier today, the Syrian military or their allies set afire a mosque in A’rbeen. Mosque on fire in Arba`een http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6orUZ5XBO80&feature=youtu.be&a
Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Busr al-Harir, Ghasem, Ma`raba, al-Mata’iyya, the Lijah area, and Mahja killing a little girl in Mahja. The Syrian military opened fire from checkpoints around the towns of Busra al-Sham and Mleiha al-Sharqiyya. A sniper killed two civilians in the town of Tafas and an unidentified body was found there. Gunfire was reported in al-Yaduda and al-Kateeba.
Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the neighborhood of al-Shaykh Yasin and Dawar Ghassan Abud. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition fighters took place in the neighborhood of Kanamat. The Syrian military resumed its heavy shelling of the city of BuKamal.
Hama province: Clashes took place in the Arba`in neighborhood killing one opposition fighter, while another died to his injuries from yesterday. The Syrian military also shot two civilians in al-Arba`in and al-Jala`.
The Syrian military shelled the village of Abu Ramal, killing three civilians including a child. The Syrian military heavily shelled the villages of Sahl al-Ghab, including al-Hawash, al-Hwaiz, and Hwaija. An anti-regime demonstration took place on the Tariq Halab road.
Homs province: The Syrian military killed 3 opposition fighters in Homs today and one died of injuries earlier received in the village of Naqeera. Naqeera has been shelled for three days and it is reported to have been thoroughly destroyed. Pro-regime armed men shot a civilian in the countryside of Homs province. According to witnesses from the area, many houses in the Naqeer village, which has been witnessing clashes and bombardment for the past 3 days, were flattened to the ground. A civilian, from the town of Ghanto, was shot by pro-regime armed men in Reef Homs.
Idlib province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Electricity in many villages, towns and cities in Idlib was cut off.
Tartus province: The Haydara al-Karar rebel battalion, based in Latakia, issued a warning to the Syrian security forces to release the detained women of the city of Banias and the village of Bayda within the next 48 hours. Women along with their infant children were detained yesterday and the previous day in raids carried out to avenge the detainment/kidnapping of Colonel Musa Haddad, the head of military security in Banyas. The Haydara al-Karar has sworn it will kill Haddad because of his cruel treatment of the citizens of Banyas.
The National Coordination Body for Change in Syria met in the Mayadeen area today. This group has had the approval of the Syrian government, but it too calls for the overthrow of Assad’s government now. However it opposes the armed struggle and calls for a ceasefire. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2x00VyIPE8Q
International: Saudi Arabia has cancelled opera performances which were intended to be part of its festive National Day Celebrations in solidarity with the Syrian people. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/09/23/239639.html
Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi said that Iran is an important player in the region and could be helpful in solving the Syrian crisis. Although Iran has supported Bashar al-Assad thus far, Morsi said he didn’t see Iran’s participation in the four nation contact group formed recently as a negative, but rather key to solving the violence in Syria. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/23/egypt-president-iran-idINL5E8KM24E20120923
A committee has worked to assure the 890 Syrian refugee students (which include 100 Palestinians) places in the Sidon schools for the coming school year. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Sep-21/188750-sidon-successfully-finds-school-places-for-all-syrian-refugees.ashx#axzz27LAr7EbB
Syria refugees in Jordan name their children born in exile after the Jordanian king and his wife. http://jordantimes.com/syrian-refugee-newborns-named-abdullah-rania-as-token-of-appreciation
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.