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.

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:

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. 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.

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.

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.

International: Lakhdar Brahimi continues to press for a ceasefire during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday.

Kurdish fears are stirred up by the Turkish military presence at the borders.

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.

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