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).
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