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.
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).
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