Syria Update, September 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

29 Sep

Syria Update, September 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s death toll: 144.

Thursday’s final death toll: 160 including 89 unarmed civilians.

A Syrian family of brothers battle against the Assad government

As on every Friday, numerous anti-regime protests took place across Syria. More than 50 can be seen on You Tube and here are a few:

Aleppo province: The opposition advanced today and fought fiercely for hours, moving into the Shaykh Masoud neighborhood. A pro-regime militia wounded three civilians were wounded in that neighborhood and killed a member of the Kurdish Popular Defense Committees. The Syrian military shelled al-Helk, al-Meghayer and al-Sakhour. Clashes with the opposition took place in al-Adhamiyya, Hamadaniyya, al-Itha’a, al-Jandoul, al-Saba Bahrat and the Salahaddin neighborhoods and near the artillery college in al-Ramusiyya.

The Syrian military’s shelling of Aazaz killed 9 persons. The Syrian military summarily executed 25 persons in Rashideen and heavily shelled the towns of Abizmo, Darat Izza, Hayyan, Menbaj, Ratyan. Clashes with the opposition broke out near the Kweirs military airport where a BMB military vehicle was disabled and casualties occurred on both sides. Clashes also occurred in the town of Khan Asal.

Damascus province: An explosion rocked the Syrian army headquarters in Damascus. Al-Manar denied there was any explosion, whereas al-Jazeera confirmed it. The Syrian military shelled Baraza and the al-Basatin area and carried out a series of raids and detentions in Baraza and burning houses. An explosion was heard in the neighborhood of al-Tadamon. The Syrian military alo shelled Douma, al-Sayyida Zeinab and Mu`adamiyya.

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Artouz, Hamouriyya, Mesraba and Saqba and clashes with the opposition took place in Artouz. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition in the Qudsiyya neighborhood resulted in the deaths of 3 regime troops. Shelling on Qudsiyya killed four civilians including a woman and 3 year-old child.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled Dara`a al-Balad and the towns of Heet, al-Mzeyrib, al-Sahwa, Tel Shihab, Tseel and al-Yaduda and the al-Lijah area. Clashes with the opposition took place in the town of Qerfa. An explosion shook the town of Busra al-Sham.

Deir az-Zur province: Seventy year old writer and storyteller, Ibrahim Alkhareet, was extra-judicially executed by al-Assad militias along with his two sons, Somar and Rani. (Two reports mention only Somar). Alkhareet published The Convoy and the Desert and The Assassination.

A leader of an opposition battalion was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military shelled the al-Shaykh Yasin neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bukamal. Protests took place in al-Mayadin and the town of Mouhasan.

Hama province: Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were fought in the old neighborhoods of Hama and in Kazo. The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of Eqeirabat, Hamadeh, Jarjasiyya, Karnaz, Masoud, al-Mefker al-Gharbi and Souha, killing one child in al-Mefker al-Gharbi.

Homs province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the al-We’er neighborhood. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Amana al-Msheirfa and Deir Foul.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Hass, the countryside of Jisr al-Shughur, and the towns of Basamis, Jabal Shahshbo and Taftanaz. A child in Hass died from wounds received during regime shelling yesterday. Electricity has been cut off from most of the cities and towns in Idlib province.

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled al-Ghamam, killing serveral persons. The Syrian military shelled the villages of al-Mreij and Shalef. Clashes took place in the city of al-Haffe. A defected officer who had joined the opposition was killed in clashes in the al-Yunsiyya area. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Bkas, Kebina and Shirqaq, killing 1 civilian in Kebina.

Raqqah province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Turkman.

Tartus province: The Syrian military moved through the southern areas of the city of Banyas and into neighboring villages which are pro-opposition.

International: Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has proposed a two-stage plan for political transition in Syria to a meeting of ministers at a Friends of Syria session. Stage 1 would proceed from the plan for political transition adopted in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Stage 2 would involve meetings between the Syrian government and the external and internal opposition.

U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton announced an additional $15 million in aid for humanitarian purposes and to help the civilian opposition in Syria.

Carla Del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn will join the United Nation’s investigation into human rights abuses according to the UN Human Rights Council.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta said that the Syrian government has moved some of its stores of chemical weapons but that the main storage sites remain secure.

A Syrian shell fired from Tel Abyad landed in Akcakale Turkey, damaging a building and wounding one person.
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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