Syria Update, October 8, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Death toll: More than 170 killed including 79 unarmed civilians.
Sunday’s revised death toll: More than 160 killed.
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul urges international action on Syria where, he said, “a worst case scenario” is unfolding. http://www.rferl.org/content/turkey-warning-gul-urges-international-action-on-syria/24732895.html
The Syrian opposition group holding Iranian hostages has temporarily stayed its countdown to harm them unless the Syrian military releases three female prisoners and two families detained in Ghouta. Turkish authorities established contacts with the kidnappers and negotiations are ongoing.
Aleppo province: The Syrian military shelled al-A’qroub, Bab al-Ni’rab, al-Heidariyya, al-Marja, and al-Sakhour in Aleppo. Clashes took place in al-Eqba. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition resulted in the death of an opposition fighter near the Hanano military barracks.
The Syrian military shelled the towns of A’ndan, Maskana, Akhtrin, Darat Izza, Hreitan and Kafr-Hamra. The Syrian military shelled a building on the A’zaz-Aleppo road.
Damascus province: An explosion was heard in al-Qaboun. A bomb went off in al-Jobar and a suicide bomber targeted a Syrian air force intelligence agency compound in al-Harasta and violent clashes took place in Harasta today. The Syrian military shelled Mesraba. Violent clashes occurred on the al-Mutahaleq al-Janoubi road in Jobar neighbourhood. Clashes and Syrian military shelling took place in the al-Qadam neighborhood and an unidentified body was found in al-Qadam.
Syrian military shelling killed a civilian in the town of A’rbin. The Syrian military raided areas around al-Mqeilbiya in search of wanted people. An IED explosion killed at least 6 regime forces when their truck was targeted in the town of Rankous. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Hosh Arab and Deir al-A’safir.
Dara`a province: A sniper killed a young man in the town of Da’el. Seven bedouin were found dead on the Dera’a-Damascus road near Inkhel; they were killed by the Syrian military. The Syrian military heavily shelled the towns of Oum Walad and M’arba and carried out raids and arrests in the towns of al-Karak al-Sharqi and Seida.
Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled areas of the city of Deir az-Zur and shot two civilians in the al-Joura neighborhood. Heavy gunfire at checkpoints was reported in the city of Bukamal.
Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Mourk. The Syrian military carried out raids and detentions in the neighborhood. One was killed and others injured in the town of KafrZeita.
Homs province: Syrian military forces advanced into the al-Khaldiyya area for the first time in months. Earlier, a group of regime forces entered a building on the outskirts of the al-Khaldiya near the Shar’ al-Qahira roundabout, and then they were trapped in that building as intense gunfire and explosions were reported. An opposition fighter was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in the al-Qusur neighborhood of Homs.
The wounded in Qusair were supposed to be transported to Lebanon for medical treatment but instead were dying of their wounds as the Syrian military imposed a blockade against travel. Explosions were heard in the village of al-Zra’a. An opposition fighter was killed in clashes at the Lebanese border. Shelling resumed by the Syrian military on al-Rastan.
Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Afes, Has, Kafranbel, Kafrouma, Kafrsajna, Salqin and Heish resulting in 2 deaths in Afes town, injuries and destruction of homes. A Syrian military rocket hit a building in Ma’arat al-Nu`man killing 9 civilians (6 women, 2 children and 1 man). In Ma’arat al-Nu`man at least 13 men were documented as killed when opposition forces stormed the Arab cultural center which has become a Syrian government troop makeshift facility and a detention facility. It is unclear who the men were, possibly detainees.
Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled the villages of Beit Fares, Beit A’wan and al-Saraya.
Raqqa province: Clashes took place between the Syrian military and the opposition in the center of al-Mansoura village. The opposition stormed the building, and detained persons there.
Turkey launched another strike on Syria after Syria again fired over the border with Turkey. ttp://www.reuters.com/video/2012/10/08/turkey-returns-fire-after-syria-bombing?videoId=238252331&videoChannel=1
Syria fired on the village of al-Turrah in Jordan. Although Syrian-Turkish hostilities have been in the news for five days, Syria has frequently fired into Jordanian territory.
A mortar shell fired by the Syrian military landed in northern Lebanon on Monday and gunfire was exchanged across the government. The shell landed near deserted security agency post in Lebanon
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech at the Virginian Military Institute stating that the primary conflict in the Middle East concerns anti-Americanism vs. pro-Americanism – darkness or light, danger or democracy. On Syria he said “The President [Obama] has failed to lead in Syria, where more than 30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the past 20 months. Violent extremists are flowing into the fight. Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region.” And “In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran—rather than sitting on the sidelines. It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.”
The Syrian opposition has produced its own music – revolutionary music – as in other countries of the Arab spring. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnny-farraj/nos-tefaha-band_b_1948874.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false
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.