Archive | October, 2012

Syria Update, October 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

30 Oct

Syria Update, October 29, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

An extremely heavy air shelling campaign began today, with 60 airstrikes, as if the Syrian government wants to demonstrate its ability to strike at the opposition and civilians, at the end of a brief ceasefire which was not fully observed by other side, but during which casualties dropped by about one-third (about 500 people were killed over the 4-day ceasefire). The shelling hit Damascus and Idlib province hard as well as other areas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_s4iqh_GFNA

Death toll: More than 120 killed including 53 civilians.

Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled the Maqamat neighborhood, killing 3 civilians and shelled the al-Ma`adi neighborhood killing 3, including a child. A sniper killed one opposition fighter in Itha’a. The Syrian military shelled Bab al-Qadam. Sectarian tensions in Aleppo are the subject of this Agence France Presse article: http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/58683-communal-tensions-simmer-in-syria-s-aleppo

A group of Syrian activists, intellectuals and media workers issued a statement condemning the arrest of Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani by an armed opposition armed group in the suburbs of Aleppo.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Hayyan, killing 2 and shelled al-Sfeira. Opposition fighters tortured to death a Syrian Kurd, Khaled Bahjat Hamdu, age 37, after they captured him 3 days ago near Hayyan. He was one of the 120 released yesterday, but was so weak from the torture by electricity, that he died.

Damascus province: The Syrian military shelled Hajar al-Aswad, killing 6 civilians including a child. A Syrian military shell hit a bus killing several children. Here is footage of a hit mini-bus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GDlv9JgyM0&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian military shelled Qadam killing one man. A sniper killed one man in Jobar. An unidentified body was found in al-Zahra. A protest against the Assad government took place in Rukn al-Din. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SYpMz6tmHwU

A car bomb killed 5 civilians in Jaramana (but 10 according to Syrian state television). The Syrian military fired on Sidi Meqdad killing 3. The Syrian military shelled Duma, killing 3. Seven opposition fighters were killed in clashes and shelling in Duma.
A civilian was killed at a checkpoint at Qatana. Two unidentified bodies were found in Mu’adamiyya. In Harasta and the farm areas of Rankous, 12 opposition fighters were killed in clashes and shelling by the Syrian military.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military detained a civilian from the town of Da`el and tortured this person to death. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Na`ima killing a media activist.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of Joubeila and Al-Aarfi. A car bomb exploded near the al-Wahda church in the city of Deir az-Zur and it killed one man. A sniper shot (and apparently killed) a pregnant woman and wounded a child who was with her. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEV5JlPNyKE

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Qal`at Madiq killing one child. One civilian died from wounds incurred in an explosion in the city of Hama one week ago.

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled the neighborhood of Deir Ba’lba in Homs, which killed 5 opposition fighters. Medical workers in this town are asking for medical supplies so they can treat the wounded; they are experiencing severe medical shortages.
Clashes took place in Baba Amro killing 1 opposition fighter. The Syrian military shelled the town of Talbisa, killing a child. Unknown gunmen killed a man from the village of Umm al-Emd.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled Khan Shaykhoun and Ma`arat al-Nu`man killing 3 male civilians and a child. One opposition fighter was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in Ma`arat al-Nu`man. The Syrian military shelled Heish killing one opposition fighter. One opposition fighter died of wounds in Salqin. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Barra killing 3 civilians. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Um Walad killing 1 woman. One man died due to a landmine near the Syrian-Turkish border.

Refugees: Last night 374 Syrians fled to Jordan including an 82 year old and a 9 day old baby. Among them, 122 school-aged children whose first question was whether they can attend school. The Jordanian government is making it possible for them to do so.

International:
Eleven Syrian soldiers were taken into custody by Turkish authorities as they fled the border town of Azmarin which is now controlled by the opposition. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-295263-security-forces-detain-11-syrian-soldiers-fleeing-to-turkey.html

Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab league special envoy to Syria was in Moscow today meeting with Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov. After his meeting he stated, “ I have said and it bears repeating again and again that the Syrian crisis is very very dangerous, the situation is bad and getting worse,” and “If it’s not a civil war, I don’t know what it is.” He said that the failure of the ceasefire, which Russia had supported, will not discourage him from finding a solution to the crisis.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep frustration at the failure of the Syria ceasefire and stressed the need for international unity to end the violence.

Turkey shelled Syria today after Syrian shelling hit the village of Besaslan in southern Hatay province.

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.

Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html

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).

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.

Syria Update, October 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

29 Oct

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

Early death toll: 113 killed including 39 unarmed civilians.

Amended death toll for Saturday: More than 120 killed.

Hizbullah began an offensive in mid-October on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border against the opposition. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/hezbollah-crosses-syrian-border-with-bloody-assault-on-assads-enemies-8227316.html?printService=print

Aleppo province: Opposition fighters freed 120 Syrian-Kurdish civilians whom they had detained 2 days ago near the town of Hayyan. This had followed clashes between the Kurdish popular defense units under the control of the Democratic Union Party and the opposition which had caused many casualties.

The Syrian military shelled the Haydariyya and Masaken Hanano neighborhoods.

The Liwa Asifat al-Shamal armed group has apparently seized Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani, in the Aleppo suburbs. The group issued a statement saying it had “arrested” the journalist.
The Syrian opposition took control of the Syrian government’s air force intelligence office in Aleppo.

Damascus province: Syrian fighter jets bombarded the suburbs of eastern Damascus, all Sunni Muslim neighborhoods. Large explosions were heard as huge plumes of smoke appeared from Russian-made warplanes bombing Irbin, Harasta and Zamalka. A huge explosion rocked a police academy in the neighborhood of Barza in Damascus. A car bomb blew up in the area of al-Jameyaat outside Damascus. Clashes took place in al-Hajar al-Aswad.

Electricity, water and communications have been cut off in Harasta and dozens of the wounded were moved from the Harasta National Hospital.
The al-Nusra Front denied responsibility for Friday’s attack on a residential area that had housed police officers and their families and which broke the Eid ceasefire, and blamed the Syrian regime for the bombing.
The opposition took control of three military posts in Douma and killed four Syrian soldiers at another checkpoint.

Dar`a province: Syrian military shelling by air of the cities in Dara`a today, including Da’el.

Deir az-Zur province: Syrian military forces bombarded the cities of Deir az-Zur and Abu Kamal today. They shelled al-Joubeila and Al-Roushdiya in Deir az-Zur.

Hama province: A demonstration was held in Kafar Zeita today.

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled al-Dar al-Kabira.

Idlib province: The FSA announced it has taken control of the city of Salqeen, which has been the last stronghold of the Syrian government’s millitary forces and 50 soldiers were killed or captured there.

The Syrian military carried out airstrikes on in the village of Al-Bara in Jabal al-Zawiya, killing 16 persons including 7 children and 4 women. The Syrian military also bombarded al-Bahra and Kafrouma, causing casualties and injuries.

70 Syrian army soldiers turned themselves in to the Turkish border guards at a checkpoint outside of Idlib according to al-Jazeera.

Suwaida province: Security forces carried out a campaign of mass arrests in the city of Suwaida, including of a 13 year old boy.

Concerns about salafists vs. non-salafists (or secularists) in the opposition have been overstated in much of the media in order to diminish support for the opposition. Tracing the source of these concerns is essential. Nonetheless am including this portrayal, although it focuses on the former rather than the latter trend http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20079317

Demonstration in Qamishli http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnpTsHLSV7Q

IHH, a Turkish Islamic humanitarian agency obtained and posted a photograph of Cuneyt Unal, a Turkish journalist who worked for al-Hurra and who went missing in Syria on August 20th. The photo was dated October 24th and showed Unal in good health although thinner. IHH is the owner of the Mavi Marmara aid ship which attempted to travel to Gaza. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/28/us-syria-crisis-turkey-cameraman-idUSBRE89R07B20121028

Borders: Fighting continued in the town of Haram on Sunday.

International: Saudi Arabian police broke up a protest by hundreds of Syrian pilgrims walking toward the Jamarat Bridge in Mina on Sunday to demand the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad and denouncing the world’s failure to stop the bloodshed. No-one was hurt. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-saudi-haj-protestbre89r0a7-20121028,0,1436035.story

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.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

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.

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850

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.

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297

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).
http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584

Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.

Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

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).

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.
Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Please Donate to Syrian Refugee Children and Women

28 Oct

Please everyone – if you can help Syrian refugees with as little as $12 or $14 – would you consider the following appeal!
My friend, Rita Zuwaidah of the Salaam Cultural Center and Caravan-Serai Tours and some other bona fide organizations are trying to collect funds to help the Syrian refugees at the Zaatari Camp in Jordan. They are buying school kits for children (see an example at the second link below) and hygiene kits for women. They are buying the items in Jordan where they are less expensive, $12 for school kits and $14 for women’s hygiene kits (3 months supply). Teir is the PayPal button on her site and you can specify what you want to send via this 501c organization.

Father Samir Abulail will leave Seattle on the 4th of November and will be able to distribute these items at the camp. Please help if you can!

http://salaamculturalmuseum.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/war-in-our-time-is-always-indiscriminate/

http://salaamculturalmuseum.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/school-supplies-for-syrian-refugee-children-in-jordan/

Syria Update, October 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Oct

Syria Update, October 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 80 killed today

Yesterday’s death toll: More than 140 including 71 unarmed civilians and among those, 5 children.

The unmonitored ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Adha holiday was supposed to mean that the Syrian military would cease air operations for four days, but reserved the right to respond to the opposition. Whenever there is an unmonitored ceasefire, it is likely to be broken by both sides, as has occurred. The regime continued using its artillery in some areas and regime-paid snipers continued firing, and the car bomb set in Damascus is most probably the work of regime-supporters, even though the al-Nusra Front refused the ceasefire. Syrians who said there was no Eid holiday were justified in that sentiment, but Lakhdar Brahimi is nevertheless on the right track in pushing for the ceasefire, if only because it shows that negotiation is possible.

On Tuesday, Bashar al-Assad issued a general amnesty but that does not include any of the thousands who have been detained without charge, or those being held under the ant-terrorism law which has been used to detain, imprison and torture many supporters or suspected supporters of the opposition. Amnesty International issued a call for all prisoners of conscience to be freed in Syria.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/syria-free-all-prisoners-conscience-after-amnesty-2012-10-25

Aleppo province: The commander of the opposition forces in Aleppo. Col. Abd al-Jabbar Mohammad Aqidi appeared at a protest today. The FSA made gains yesterday (Thursday) in areas including al-Ashrafiyya, al-Midan and Sleiman al-Halabi. The opposition fired on Kurdish protests involving civilians from al-Shaykh Maqsoud and al-Ashrafiyya neighborhoods, which killed one protester and wounded five others.
VIolent clashes took place between Syrian military forces and opposition fighters at a military checkpoint near the al-Malhab military barracks of Aleppo city.

Damascus province: Thousands protested today against the Bashar al-Assad government during the Eid al-Adha holiday and what was a partial lull in the fighting.
Five were killed and 32 wounded in a car bomb attack near the Omar Ibn al-Khattab mosque and a playground built for the Eid holiday in Daf al-Shok. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/26/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X720121026

A sniper shot one person in al-Jobar. Clashes took place in al-Asali and in al-Madaniyya. An unidentified corpse was found in the fields of the town of al-Keswa. A sniper killed a young woman in Harasta city. A sniper killed a child A in Duma, which was shelled today. A sniper killed 1 near the edges of the town of A’rbin. A tank can be seen here firing in the eastern part of the Ghouta, today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3IB1090WsIc
Yesterday, the body of father Fadi al-Haddad, priest of the Mar Elias church in the city of Qatana was discovered. He had been previously kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

Dara`a province: Demonstrations took place today across the province to protest the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Here is one march held in Dara`a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQcrSQYt3k&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian military tried to disperse the demonstrators in Dara`a, despite the truce that had been declared, firing on them and wounding them. Several people were wounded when Syrian security forces opened fire on a mosque in Daraa’s Ankhal during Friday prayers, activists said.
Three Syrian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded, most of them critically, in a car bomb attack in the city of Dara`a.

Hama province: Hundreds protested against the Bashar al-Assad regime in the city of Hama today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjEDIdNKO5Y&feature=player_embedded

Homs province: Demonstrations were held to protest the Bashar al-Assad regime today, here in the city of Homs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LTncAr93dk&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian military shelled the al-Khaldiya neighborhood, killing one. Gunfire and clashes were reported int eh city of Talkalakh.

Idlib province: Protests were held in Idlib against the Bashar al-Assad government http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1SKSngRHp4&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian opposition bombarded a building inside of the Wadi al-Dayf base, destroying it and killing at least 9 Syrian military troops, and 4 opposition fighters were killed during clashes there. Despite the ceasefire, the Syrian military shelled the villages of Deir Sharqi, Ma’aret Shourin, Kafrsajna and Has and destroyed homes. 2 unidentified opposition fighters were found dead west of Saraqeb.

Sweida province: Activists painted on the walls, ‘no celebrations in honor of the martyrs’ and sang “In Syria, there is no Eid (al-Adha holiday)” and using paper to mark the names and dates of the fallen http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IH22wXerr4U

Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad was shown on television at Eid al-Adha prayers and listening to a sermon.

Borders: The opposition has been besieging the town of Harem at the Turkish border for 11 days and took half the town on October 25th. Many in the city are government loyalists. The Syrian military are firing from the citadel of the town; the opposition has called on UNESCO to ask the military to leave the citadel.

International: The imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Shaykh Saleh Muhammad al-Taleb called on Arabs and Muslims on Friday to take “practical and urgent” steps to stop the bloodshed in Syria that has
killed as many as 40,000 people, and said in his sermon at the Eid prayers that, “The world should bear responsibility for this prolonged and painful disaster (in Syria) and the responsibility is greater for the Arabs and Muslims who should call on each other to support the oppressed against the oppressor.”

Saudi Arabia has expelled three employees of Syria’s consulate in Jeddah, saying only that their activities were incompatible with their position without elaborating.

Turkey has denied that it is blocking its borders to fleeing Syrians. Evidence has been collected by Human Rights Watch to the contrary.

Switzerland has extended sanctions against the Syrian government, adding 28 names to a list of Assad supporters. These persons’ assets are frozen and they may not obtain visas. In addition 2 companies were named, Megatrade and Expert Partners, which are suspected of buying weapons or material used by the Syrian government to harm or repress its citizens.

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).

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.

Syria Update, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Oct

Syria Update, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 150 Syrians including 73 unarmed civilians.

Yesterday’s death toll: 190.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has indicated to Russia that it will accept UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s proposal for a ceasefire in Syria over the Eid al-Adha holiday according to Moscow’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

Aleppo province: 2 opposition fighters and 13 Syrian troops were killed today.

Damascus province: A car-bomb exploded in the area between the Tadamun and Daf al-Shawk neighbourhoods killing 6 and wounded at least 20. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in Tadamon and in al-Qaboun. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled Mu`adamiyya killing dozens of civilians and wounding others.

20 bodies of civilians were discovered in the Taxi Haydar building, in the city of Douma. The dead included 4 children and 8 women, killed by the Syrian regime. Firing on Harasta killed 1 opposition fighter and 3 civilians, including a woman. The Syrian military bombarded the area around the town of Zamalka by air. 2 men were found dead in the town of al-Sabina. 1 man was killed in the town of Deir Sleiman.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled Tafas and Tariq al-Sid today.

Deir az-Zur province: 4 were killed today, including 2 Syrian military troops. This video shows armed men gathering around a Free Syrian Army – marked truck and boarding of a helicopter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyZ0FWQi8CA&feature=player_embedded

Hasake province: Unknown gunmen caused an explosion on the gas-line linking al-Hasaka and the city of Banyas; the explosion occurred in the village of Bi’r al-Juwees.

Homs province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Houla.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the Bilal mosque in Ma’arat al-Nu`man killing 10. Rami Mendeel, a 16 year old soldier, the son of Ra’ed Mandeel, the opposition leader of the Ma’arat al-Nu`man martyrs brigade, was killed during clashes when his group attacked a military motorcade near the Ein Qri’ village, south of Ma’arat al-Nu’man city. These clashes also killed 1 other opposition fighter and 9 Syrian military troops and 3 tanks were destroyed.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Deir Sharqi. Clashes took place near the the Wadi al-Dayf military base and the Syrian military shelled villages in the area. The Syrian military’s aeriel bombardment of Kafrouma caused the deaths of 7 civilians, including a family of six, 3 were children and 1 woman.

Al-Raqqa province: More than 14 Syrian military troops were killed or wounded in a car bombing at the al-Qantari military checkpoint on the al-Raqqa-al-Hasaka road. Heavy clashes took place between Syrian military troops and the opposition in the city of al-Tabaqa city leading to the death of 1 Syrian military fighter and clashes also took place at Solouk. 18 were killed today in al-Raqqa province including 16 Syrian troops and 2 opposition fighters.

A military coordinator for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has said that not all rebel groups would comply with a proposed ceasefire during an upcoming Muslim holiday as they doubted the intentions of the government.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria said earlier on Monday that the Syrian government and some rebel leaders had agreed to a ceasefire during a four-day Muslim holiday due to begin on Friday.

But in the Turkish town of Hatay, the FSA’s Ahmad Kassem said while some rebel leaders had said they would commit to a ceasefire, others had refused because “they have previous experience with the regime.”

”They don’t trust him (Assad) and everybody will soon see that Bashar Assad will not commit to this ceasefire, period.”

International: A defected female former general of the Syrian forces has been training the Syrian opposition in Turkey. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-296278-report-defected-female-general-trains-syrian-opposition-in-turkey.html

Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

President Morsi of Egypt gave a speech to Azhar preachers on the occasion of the Eid, and called on the Syrian regime to halt the bloodshed during Eid as a first step.

The United States said on Wednesday it had not supplied Stinger missiles to Syrian rebel forces, which challenges intelligence from Moscow that the US-made surface-to-air missiles had found their way into the hands of the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to be somewhat confused about Middle Eastern geography as he repeated claims that Syria is Iran’s gateway to the sea. http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/10/24/66-Romney-repeats-Syria-is-Iran-s-route-to-the-sea-gaffe-for-sixth-time-in-row-.html
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.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria from the 3rd of Oct until the end of the month. This initially caused NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.

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

22 Oct

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

Today’s early death toll: 103 persons

Saturday’s death toll: At least 123 persons killed including 53 unarmed civilians.

Syrian government military forces invade a field hospital and push their boots in a patient’s face, addressing him as “you animal” and demanding to know where his weapons are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUpgh5XoRQg&feature=player_embedded
And here the Syrian military have taken over a kindergarten

Aleppo province: Numerous civilians, including children killed and injured in Masaken al-Hanano. Earlier reports said 3 killed and 18 wounded. An opposition fighter died in the city of his wounds. The Syrian military shelled Deir Hafer. Heavy clashes took place between the opposition and the Syrian military in the Aqba, Bab Antakiya, and al-Awameed neighborhoods; and near the Aleppo citadel, killing 3 opposition fighters. The Syrian military shelled Meyser, Bani Zaid, Bustan al-Basha and al-Khaldiayya. I man was killed by a sniper in Bustan al-Qasr.

The opposition took over al-Ramousa highway. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Tel Rif`at, Bshaqtin and al-Houta.

Damascus province: A car bomb went off in Bab Touma in front of the police station killing 10. Syrian state television blamed the attack on the opposition (i.e. “terrorists”). A car bomb exploded in the al-Wadi area of the Barzeh neighborhood. The Syrian military shelled Harasta and clashed with the opposition, killing 3. The Syrian military resumed its shelling of Hamouriyya and the towns of al-Ghouta al-Sharqiyya. 1 man was killed by sniper fire in the Qaboun neighbourhood. The Syrian military raided the Mezze neighborhood.
The Syrian military shelled Zamalka, Irbeen and Zabadani. Outside Zabadani, the Syrian military killed an opposition fighter. Raids and detentions continued in the town of Jdeidat Artouz, where the Syrian military set houses on fire. Near al-Tal, 9 Syrian military troops were killed and injured when an IED attack targeted their truck.
Dara`a province: Syrian forces carried raids and arrests of civilians in the town of al-Sanamein. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Da’el, al-Hrak, al-Na`ima, Tal Chehab, al-Mzeirib and the al-Lajja area. Gun fire was heard in Dara`a al-Mahatta. Syrian military forces stormed the towns of Ma’raba, Tibat al-Ezz and al-Mata’iya. The Syrian military shelled the town of Khirbet Ghazala.

Deir az-Zur province The city of Deir az-Zur is a disaster area, it has been under siege for 126 days. Food is scarce as is medicine. Online activists are trying to draw attention to the plight of the city. Shelling resumed on the al-Hamidiya neighborhood and clashes took place in al-Rashdiyya. As many as 75 people were summarily executed and burned to death by the Syrian military and their bodies were discovered Friday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8CcyhOe4fA

The Syrian military shelled al-Bariha, al-Sabha, al-Shahil and al-Zar. Yesterday, the Free Syrian Army took over a third police station in the town of Bukamel.

Hama province An explosion shook al-Qusur in the city of Hama.

The Syrian military shelled Hamidyya, Jabal Shaheshbo, Qastouna and al-Zaka.

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of Jobar, al-Sultaniyya and Tel al-Shour. Clashes took place in Karam Shamshem.
The Syrian military shelled the town of Talbisa. The Syrian military resumed shelling on the city of Rastan, and al-Hamidiyya village, near Qseir. A pro-Syrian media outlet said that 20 Lebanese had been arrested near Kafrkamrat (near Houla) coming to join the opposition

Idlib province: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef M’aret al-Nu’man. The Syrian military remains in a ground and air offensive against Ma`arat al-Nu`man which the opposition captured 12 days ago on October 9th. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z8Zt3qPLz20
Syrian fighter jets shelled the town of Ma`arat Nu`man today destroying five houses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tMdaI9yx6Us
Clashes moved yesterday onto a highway to the south of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Recapture of the highway would allow the Syrian military to resupply its units in Aleppo and also to send aid to 250 Syrian troops who are besieged Wadi Deif. Heavy fighting there today caused residents to flee.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Kafranbel and the villages of Jabal al-Zawiya, Kafr A’weid and Safhoun, killing 3 in Safhoun.

Several mortar shells fell on Saraqeb.
A child died in Saraqeb from wounds incurred when children were playing with cluster bombs that had been fired on the town a few days earlier.

Raqqah province: A large explosion rocked the city of al-Raqqah, the explosion was followed with intense gunfire. The Syrian military shelled the town of Sloukand the southern villages of Tal Abyad.

Tartus province: Banyas city: The Syrian military carried out a series of raids and arrests in the neighborhoods of Ibn Khaldoun and al-Qal’a.

International:

Gunfire was exchanged in the southern neighborhoods of Beirut, Lebanon after the funeral of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hssan resulted in violence as the mourners tried to attack the offices of Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/22/us-lebanon-explosion-idUSBRE89L00X20121022
Early this morning, Lebanon’s National News Agency said only three persons had been killed in a car bombing in Ashrafiyya on Friday, Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan; First Sg. Ahmad Sahyouni, and a bystander. A judge has requested telecommunications and surveillance details in an investigation into the case which most believe can be traced to the Syrian government. Al-Hassan opposed Bashar al-Assad, more importantly, he has been investigating a Lebanese politician who plotted with two Syrian officials to launch attacks inside Lebanon. Earlier reports have said that at least 9 others were killed in this bombing.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League’s Special Envoy met with Bashar al-Assad today as part of his efforts to broker a temporary cease fire before the holiday of Eid al-Adha (He met with Walid Muallem yesterday.) Brahimi’s language was optimistic about the ceasefire, but Assad said that arms must cease reaching the opposition. It wasn’t clear if that is a precondition for the ceasefire, or not. Brahimi did not confirm if Assad accepted the ceasefire. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-10/22/c_123850511.htm

The Syrian American Medical Society is collecting funds to buy and transport a used ambulance to a hospital in Aleppo. http://www.crowdrise.com/amulance4daralshifaa/fundraiser/concernedjournalists

Turkey has killed 12 Syrian soldiers in its response to Syrian shelling. http://www.arabnews.com/turkish-retaliatory-fire-has-killed-12-syrian-soldiers-—-report

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.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

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.

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850

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.

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297

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).
http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584

Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.

Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

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).

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Syria Update, October 19, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

20 Oct

Syria Update, October 19, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The huge car bomb which killed investigator Wissam al-Hassan in Lebanon has again shaken the faith in Lebanon’s stability in the face of its deep entanglements in Syrian politics – the plot that killed Rafeq al-Hariri and the current elements which support or oppose the Syrian opposition. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-lebanon-explosion-idUSBRE89I0N620121019

Deathtoll: 138 killed, including 55 unarmed civilians.

Demonstrations took place in so many towns, cities and villages of Syria today following Friday prayers that I cannot list all of them. One of today’s slogan was: “ America, hasn’t your hatred had enough of our blood?” As just one example, a demonstration in Daraya: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsRFhJg16X8&feature=player_embedded

Aleppo province: Heavy clashes took place in al-Ramousa area. Clashes were ongoing in Sleiman al-Halabi and the Sakhour and al-Sha`ar neighborhoods were shelled.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bab and clashes killed an opposition fighter in Khan al-Asal.

Damascus province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the Qazzaz area of Damascus. The body of a killed civilian was discovered in the Daf al-Shawk neighborhood of Damascus

The Syrian military shelled Jisreen outside Damascus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuG8ZLPJ_hU&feature=player_embedded 14 bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the shelling of Saqba. Shelling on Kafarbatna, Jisreen and Yalda killed 12 today, collapsing a building in Kafarbatna. Several rockets fell on the city of Duma. The Syrian military shelled the areas around the city of Harasta, and also shelled Beit Sehem. Clashes took place this morning in the town of Hjeira. The Syrian military also shelled other towns and villages in the eastern Ghouta. Sniper fire was reported in the Sidi Meqdad area. The Syrian military shelled al-Zabadani.

Dara`a province: Regime forces stormed the town of Busra al-Sham, firing heavily. The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Mata’ia and Tibat al-Iz.

Deir az-Zur province: Dozens of bodies were found in the Muwazifin cemetery, some had been burned. The Syrian military has shelled the town of al-Kharita.

Hama province: A demonstration broke out near the the al-Madiq palace in a funeral procession for 3 opposition fighters.

7 opposition troops were killed in an ambush set up by the Syrian military in the village of Mas`oud.

Homs province: A sniper in the We’er neighborhood killed a civilian. The Syrian military bombarded the al-Khaldiyya neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled Rastan and Qusair in Homs province, killing 1 today. A woman died today of her wounds in Houla. An opposition fighter was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in Jousiya. The Syrian miiltiary resumed its shelling of al-Ghento.

Idlib province: 8 were killed as the Syrian military shelled Ma’ashorin. At least 5 children were injured by undetonated cluster bomblets in Saraqeb, one had most of his hand amputated. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Deir al-Gharbi and Deir al-Sharqi in the countryside of Ma`arat al-Nu`man
In clashes in Deir al-Gharbi which continued all day, 2 military vehicles were damaged and that both sides suffered casualties. The Syrian military shelled Sarja, in Jabal al-Zawiya. Many protests were mounted in Kafrenbel and other towns and villages.

There were reports today that Syrian fighter jets were shelling some type of strange material which looked like a spider web, causing some panic amongst expatriates.

Raqqah province: Violent clashes have taken place between Syrian military and opposition forces after the latter attacked a regime checkpoint (the Ranin checkpoint) near the area of Salouk. The Syrian military shelled the towns in northern al-Raqqah and the towns of villages of Khirbet al-Rez, al-Qaysariya and al-Hweija, near the city of Tel Abyad. The villages of al-Krin and al-Qantari, which are on the Raqqah-Hasaka highway, were shelled by the Syrian miltiary

Borders: The Turkish military fired back at Syria today after Syrian mortars hit Syria.

Lebanon:
A bomb blast in Beirut killed security chief Wissam al-Hassan and seven others. Al-Hassan’s investigation linked Syria and Hezbollah to the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-lebanon-explosion-idUSBRE89I0N620121019

17 Lebanese died today when they were killed in an ambush of the Syrian army. All came from Arsal in Lebanon. The media suggested that the deceased were smugglers cooperating with the Free Syrian Army.
Hassan Nasrallah admitted that one of his fighters was killed in Syria fighting against the opposition. http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?fromval=2&cid=19&frid=21&seccatid=19&eid=324599

International: Lakhdar Brahimi continues to press for a ceasefire during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/syria-crisis-idUSL5E8LJAWE20121019

Kurdish fears are stirred up by the Turkish military presence at the borders. http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21564870-fiercely-anti-assad-stance-turkey-taking-syria-aggravating-long-running-troubles

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.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria for six days from 3 Oct – 9 Oct. causing NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.