Archive | November, 2012

Syria Update, November 30, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

30 Nov

Syria Update, November 30, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: More than 127 including at least 54 civilians.

Time’s photos of Syria’s war http://world.time.com/2012/04/02/syrias-year-of-chaos-photos-of-a-slow-motion-civil-war/photo/graphic-warning-2/

The UN Disengagement Observer Force’s (which serves in the Golan) convoy of 13 vehicles was again fired on for the second day on the Damascus airport road. The previous shooting wounded 4 Austrian troops.

Demonstrations against the Bashar al-Assad took place today throughout the country following Friday prayers. There were some reports of demonstrations which criticized the FSA and called for the hardline jihadist groups in the north of the country, chanting “The Free (Syrian) Army are thieves, we want an Islamic army,”

Thirteen reporters and citizen journalists have been killed during the month of November in Syria. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/30/252703.html
Also see the report of the International Committee to Protect Journalists http://www.cpj.org/2012/11/at-least-two-journalists-killed-in-syria.php

The UN Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights violations in Syria is being given a Swiss airplane to help its mission. It has conducted more than 1,000 interviews and compiled two lists of names of individuals and groups involved in serious allegations of rights abuses, which were already given to Navi Pillay, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Damascus airport is still closed to foreign flights, although it reported service of domestic flights and the Internet shut-down continues, preventing news collection and dissemination http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20552387

Damascus province: The opposition shot down a fighter MIG over al-Dameer. The Syrian military has shelled Tadamon and Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus and Babila, Beit Sahem, Daraya, Mu’adamiyyat al-Sham, A’qraba, Hjeira, Irbeen, and Sabina. Clashes continue through the southern areas of Damascus and the regime has taken the threat against the airport very seriously.

Heavy regime shelling of Daraya and Kafr Souseh took place today.

Muhammad Qureitem of Daraya, non-violent activist, member of Wild Grapes and Freedom Days Syria was killed today. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=300736370036448&set=a.221349711308448.44145.220124418097644&type=1&theater

Deir az-Zur province: Very important news (strategically) for the Syrian opposition: The Syrian army has retreated from the largest oil field in Deir az-Zur, the al-Omar oil field north of al-Mayadeen. This means there is no Syrian military presence east of the city of Deir az-Zur, and the regime has lost control of the Jafra oil field and the Konoko gasfield from which 45 soldiers ran away & defected on Nov. 27th However, the regime still holds the oil fields west of Deir az-Zur.

The Syrian military continued to shell al-Mayadeen and al-Shahil. Opposition fighters are besieging the Deir az-Zur military checkpoint. Soldiers inside of the airport have defected.

The Syrian military shelled the Rashidiyya neighborhood of the city of Deir az-Zur and clashes took place there and in other neighborhoods. Anti-regime demonstrations were held in al-Hmeidiyya in Deir az-Zur and in the town of Tayana, calling for the execution of the president.

Hama province: Yesterday, 2 civilians were kidnapped by unknown gunmen and killed in the countryside.

Hassakeh province: An opposition fighter at Ra’s al-`Ain filmed himself shooting 10 prisoners and posted the video. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/30/syria-crisis-execution-idUSL5E8MUD5920121130
Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled the area near Tel Nemer killing one Syrian Kurdish civilian.

Homs province: The Syrian military killed 17 young men from Tripoli, Lebanon in a “trap” in Tal Kalakh. They had gone to Syria to fight with the opposition. Two persons were killed in al-Rastan. Yesterday, the Syrian air force killed one civilian in its aerial bombardment of al-Arjoun.
Idlib province: The Syrian military bombed a residential area in Kafr Awad today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-hjciPG_uI
Clashes are continuing in the southern part of Ma`arat al-Nu`man and the Syrian military continues to shell that city. Many residents have fled. A child died of wounds received yesterday in the town of Sarmin. Clashes took place in near the village of al-Shughour. Opposition fighters are carrying out a siege of a military checkpoint on the Idlib-Salqin highway. A Syrian military helicopter dropped explosives on the village of Koreen yesterday.

The Assad regime has been extremely effective in threatening minority communities, including Christians and their Churches and Church officials. Nevertheless, significant numbers and figures support a Free Syria, in some cases, rejecting their officials. http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=20251&wc_id=22066

Refugees: Smugglers have been demanding kickbacks from Jordanian officials and refusing those refugees who are guided to safety by the Free Syrian Army. Some refugees are being turned away by the corrupt officials. (In other reportage, the Syrian military fires on the fleeing refugees)
http://www.opendemocracy.net/rita-from-syria/unwanted-failed-crossing-from-damascus-to-gaza

The U.N’s Ban Ki-Moon has predicted that the numbers of Syrian refugees will rise above 700,000 by January.

International: NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said that Patriot (PAC-3) missiles could be deployed to the Turkish border within several weeks if they are approved, possibly by the NATO members foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels. She added, “Anyone who thinks of attacking Turkey will think twice.”

France asked the Syrian government to restore Internet and phone services now cut off for a second day.

The Friends of Syria “sanctions working group meeting” convened in Tokyo bringing together delegates from 60 countries. Newly represented are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh. Japan’s Foreign Minister, Koichiru Gemba referred to the group as the international community’s effort in an instance where the United Nations Security Council has failed to act to alleviate the conflict
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-77688-Friends-of-Syria-meet-in-Tokyo

Dutch police arrested 3 men in Rotterdam who were planning to travel to Syria to fight with the opposition, i.e. to be “international jihadists.”

It has become clear (if it were not earlier) in the last few days that Russia has been moving cash to Syria, circuitously and in defiance of international sanctions. Some of the evidence has been found in a cache of documents provided by the group Anonymous. http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/26/15459691-as-battle-raged-in-syria-russia-sent-tons-of-cash-to-damascus-flight-records-show?chromedomain=worldnews&lite

Russia may also have been moving arms into Syria, as indicated by the recently revealed documents. http://world.time.com/2012/11/29/is-russia-running-a-secret-supply-route-to-arm-syrias-assad/

Iraq has also played a role in Syria’s desperate efforts to obtain more helicopters for its war against Syria’s civilians and opposition. http://www.propublica.org/article/docs-to-retrieve-attack-helicopters-from-russia-syria-asks-iraq-for-help

Here is the information from Anonymous in emails from the Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://par-anoia.net/releases.html#mofa

A strike for Syria led by the non-violent movement will take place Dec. 1 and 2, 2012. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=300637206713031&set=a.221349711308448.44145.220124418097644&type=1&theater

The new National Coalition for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition held its first meeting in Cairo on Wednesday. http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/syrian-opposition-holds-first-meeting-cairo

Reflections on “family” and “safety” by Maysaloon. http://www.maysaloon.org/

Appendix. Syria and Russia: A Brief Q. & A.

Q. Why does Russia support the regime of Bashar al-Assad?

A.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e64a3076-c9b2-11e1-a5e2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2DB25kMfp

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/09/opinion/russia-syria-relations/index.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/05/syria-crisis-russia-western-meddling

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/why-russia-wont-abandon-syria-7140

Tartus:

http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/08/21/russias-syrian-naval-base/

citizens:

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/another-reason-for-russias-interest-in-syria/

Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.

http://www.questia.com/library/65212800/the-communist-movement-in-syria-and-lebanon

*personal witnessing of the seizure of communists and Maoists (alleged) by the H. al-Assad regime.

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

A. No. (However, some former communists are part of the revolution)

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/syria180411.html

http://www.marxist.com/in-defence-of-the-syrian-revolution-the-marxist-perspective.htm

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

29 Nov

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

Early death toll: 83

Wednesday’s death toll: 135

The Internet and telephone services were cut today all over Syria. Casualty figures have not been updated as a result.

The opposition used surface-to-air missiles twice in the last 24 hours in the north of the country.

A video of kidnapped Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochneva was posted about 16 hours ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKS7_j4bnA4

Aleppo province: The Syrian military bombarded the Ansari neighborhood causing two buildings to collapse. At first 35 casualties were reported. A later report referred to 15 deaths and at least 20 injuries. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H40EsEVU1Wk&feature=youtu.be
Syrian government military shelling of Deir Hafer caused injuries.

The Syrian military killed 4 unidentified children in the town of al-Sfeira, where clashes took place and the opposition set off explosives in the homes of regime supporters. An oppostion leader from the city of al-Bab died of wounds received during clashes at the Tishreen Dam.

A British doctor, Abbas Khan has been detained by Syrian security services in Aleppo. He had been treating the wounded in Saraqeb and just transferred to Aleppo on Sunday. He is not a foreign fighter.

Damascus province: An explosion heard in the Wurud neighborhood in Qudseyya was a car-bomb. The Syrian military shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad and carried out raids and arrests in al-Zahra al-Qadima.

Heavy clashes are being fought between opposition and government forces near A’wamid, A’qraba, Babila, Beit Saham, Douma, Harasta, al-Hjeira, and Hran at the outskirts of Damascus international airport with casualties on both sides. A sniper killed a civilian in Babila. Also there have been aerial bombardments in some locations and helicopters are hovering over the Ghouta al-Sharqiyya. Bloggers report that “Operation Line of Sunrise” has begun. The opposition killed 50 Syrian government soldiers at outposts in the town of Harna.
The government responded with heavy fire on the opposition campaign directed towards the airport. Flights ceased late Wednesday morning. Although an Algerian flight arrived today, other carriers have been directed not to land and the airport road was closed. Yesterday, two Austrian UN soldiers stationed with the UN force in the Golan were traveling to Damascus airport and were fired on and injured.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20547799

Reports earlier today indicated the opposition had claimed the airport road. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/1129/Syrian-rebels-cut-off-Damascus-airport-in-critical-step-video

Reports at about 20:39 GMT (and 13:00 EST) claimed that the Syrian military had recaptured the airport road but unconfirmed reports at 17:30 EST said the opposition had taken the airport.

Yesterday a video was sent out of the local governor of Daraya who has been kidnapped by the opposition. The Syrian military shelled A’rbin and Douma, and also Daraya killing 3 civilians there.
Today, other reports of a “massacre” by the Syrian government in Daraya were received.

In Jaramana, primarily a Druze and Christian neighborhood two car bombs set off simultaneously killed more than 50 civilians yesterday. A physician, Dr. Ahmed Iyad al-Fateyeh from Deir az-Zur, was killed in Mu’adamiyyat al-Sham treating the wounded.

Dara`a province: The Syrian government forces have burned more than 200 houses and raided businesses in the town of Tafas. A sniper shot a man in Tafas and the government forces shot a woman and her husband. The Syrian military shelled al-Mzeirib and a huge explosion took place in the al-Safari neighborhood in Dara`a

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian government’s military resumed shelling on the town of Mouhasan. Clashes took place between the opposition and the Syrian military near the Deir az-Zur military airport. 20 member of the Syrian military defected from the government today; one officer defected yesterday in the city of Deir az-Zur. Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled the village of al-Boulayl, al-Shihal and al-Husseiniyya.

Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled al-Arfi, al-Mu’athafeen, al-Omal, Hamidiyya, the al-Hal market, schools, churches and Cinema Fouad street in Deir az-Zur. Here is the condition of the city center at Cinema Fouad street: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8P6B-0o50w&feature=youtu.be

A girl, Huda Abu Bakr al-Mishwih was killed in aerial shelling of her grandmother’s funeral procession at Mayadeen yesterday near a mosque. Her grandmother had died of grief over her son’s (an activist) death at the hands of the Syrian military.

Homs province: The Syrian military renewed its shelling of the town of Talbisa..
The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Qar’oun of al-Qsayr and the village of al-A’rjoun, which killed a young man.

Idlib province: Clashes took place when opposition forces attacked a checkpoint at the edge of the city of Idlib.

The Syrian military shelled al-Bara, Bansh, Kansafra, Kafranbel, Kourin, Taftanaz, and T’oum. Clashes took place after the opposition attacked a military column on the Idlib-Salqin road. The opposition shot down a war plane in the Banash neighborhood of Idlib. The opposition launched an assault on Wadi Deif military base.

Clashes occurred in the southern part of Ma`arat al-Nu`man and the Syrian military used artillery to shell the city. Yesterday, the government forces had pulled back from Ma’mal al-Mkhalal and Zeidan checkpoints on the Idlib-Salqin road and opposition fighters then claimed these checkpoints.

Al-Raqqa province: The opposition took over the al-Qarya al-Qadima area of the city of Tabaqa after clashes that continued for hours.

International:

Comments by Lakhdar Brahimi, UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria following his briefing at the U.N. are here:
http://webtv.un.org/watch/lakhdar-brahimi-joint-special-representative-of-the-united-nations-and-the-league-of-arab-states-on-syria-security-council-media-stakeout-29-november-2012/1997500784001

Lebanon: Walid Jumblatt renewed a call to the Syrian Druze to join the opposition. Although the article doesn’t mention it, they have supported the opposition for quite some time in the south of the country. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Nov-29/196544-jumblatt-calls-on-syrias-druze-to-join-uprising.ashx#axzz2DcfAsa63

Spain: Spain recognized the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2012/11/29/actualidad/1354219210_174226.html

Austria: Austria’s foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger has asked the Austrian embassy in Damascus to file a protest with the Austrian government and summoned Syria’s ambassador in Vienna in response to the shooting of the two Austrian UN soldiers on the Damascus airport road (see above.) Their convoy was fired on and the Syrian foreign ministry has blamed the opposition.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines notes the use of landmines by the Syrian government along its borders with Turkey and Lebanon. Casualties of two dozen Syrians, many children, took place this year due to the Soviet-made land mines, and the actual rate of death and injury may be higher than that.

Further Reading on Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-syria-crisis-brotherhood-idUSBRE8AB1CQ20121112
https://twitter.com/ikhwan_syria
http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/whither-syria-s-muslim-brotherhood-1.464382
http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/origins/print.cfm?articleid=70
http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=48370

http://books.google.com/books/about/Far_from_Justice.html?id=498tVKtcREcC
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/06/syria-brotherhood-idAFL5E8G37C520120506
http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-259209-what-sort-of-syria-do-the-ikhwan-want.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/world/middleeast/29syria.html?pagewanted=all
and even if you dislike T. Friedman, his most hopeful comments on the end of Hama rules.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/the-new-hama-rules.html
Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.
Batatu, Hanna. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.
Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.
Porat, Liad. http://www.brandeis.edu/crown/publications/meb/MEB47.pdf

Seurat, Michel. L’État de barbarie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1989.
Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: From Arab Nationalists to a Security Services State.” In Zuhur, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism. Philadelphia: Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Diasporic Studies, 2005.

Syria Update, November 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

27 Nov

Syria Update, November 27, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 95

Monday’s revised death toll: 160 killed including 57 unarmed civilians

The pro-Syrian government publication al-Watan published a list of 142 foreign fighters killed along with the Syrian opposition. These persons were allegedly killed in October and November in Idlib, Hassakeh, Deir az-Zor, Homs and Aleppo provinces. The government claims these are “jihadists” affiliated with al-Qa’ida. Named were 47 Saudi Arabians, 24 Libyans, 11 Afghans, 10 Tunisians, 9 Egyptians, 6 Qataris, 5 Lebanese, 5 Turks, 3 Chechens, 1 Chadian and 1 Azerbaijani.
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syria-names-142-slain-foreign-fighters-from-18-countries.aspx?pageID=238&nID=35567&NewsCatID=352

Aleppo province: The Syrian air force are shelling the area near the air defense force battalion in Shaykh Sleiman following an attack by the Nusra Front on that battalion. The opposition hit one helicopter with an anti-aircraft missile, and this is the first time that has occurred. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZzKRMdOarg&feature=player_embedded

At dawn the fighters of the Ahrar al-Sham of the Free Syrian Army captured the military post at al-Mintar near al-Safireh. The commander of the post escaped and 9 opposition fighters were killed. The group seized 6 23-mm cannons, weapons, rocket batteries and ammunition.
The Syrian military is shelling Deir Hafer.

Damascus province: Heavy clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in Sayyida Zeinab with casualties on both sides. When the opposition launched a rocket into Sayyida Zeinab, 4 civilians were killed. The Syrian military shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad and al-Asali. A rocket killed a child at Yarmouk camp. Clashes took place in al-Qaboun after an army truck filled with ammunition exploded there. One woman died in this neighborhood from shrapnel wounds. The Syrian military shelled al-Bahdaliyya killing 2 persons. Clashes took place between Kafarsousa and the town of Daraya and that area was shelled. Clashes were fought on the airport road.

The Syrian military shelled Zabadani The Syrian air force bombarded the eastern Ghouta and the opposition shot down a war plane there. A rocket attack killed a child in Thiyabiyya. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Eteiba, injuring 3 children and killing one man. Two opposition fighters and a woman were killed by the Syrian military’s shelling of the town of Mu`adamiyya. Heavy clashes took place in Daraya where the opposition destroyed 8 army tanks. A suicide bomber killed 2 military police officers at a checkpoint in the Artouz area early in the morning.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military continued to bombard Tafas and clashes took place there. A sniper killed a woman in Tafas. The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Ghara al-Gharbiya and Tel Shihab and killed 1 man in its shelling of al-Mzeirab. The Syrian military carried out raids and house-to-house arrests in the town of al-Hara.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military has been shelling al-Buleil, al-Bseira, al-Dahla, Muhassan, and al-Tawamiya. The Syrian military has been shelling neighborhoods in the city of Deir az-Zur. Here, the Syrian military, in violation of international law, abuses and threatens to kill wounded prisoners from Deir az-Zur if they will not say where their weapons are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Bex1oMAHA&feature=youtu.be (because a civil war has been declared, the rules of international law apply to prisoners)

Hama province: The Syrian military stormed and raided Tariq al-Bab in Hama in the morning. 1 opposition fighter was killed in the Syrian shelling on Tel Wasit. Machine-gun fire into the village of al-Hawash injured several. Several residents were injured when heavy machine-guns were fired in the al-Hawash village.

Homs province: The Syrian military is using helicopters and artillery to shell the city of al-Qusayr. It has been attempting for days to recapture this city. The Syrian military shelled al-Fayziyya, killing 8. Clashes took place in Deir Baalaba and at Baba Amr. The Syrian air force shelled Jobar and the old neighborhoods of Homs today.

Idlib province: The Syrian air force shelled an olive oil press west of the city of Idlib, killing 5 civilians and causing many injuries. Seventeen soldiers defected at a checkpoint in the south of Idlib today and clashes took place there.

The Syrian air force shelled the town of Harem and killed 2 civilians in Mhambal. The Syrian air force shelled Ma`arat al-Nu`man killing 5 opposition fighters.

Refugees: Syria’s registered refugees now number 446,772. Here is some data on them (although it covers only 372,447 of the total number) http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

International:

Japan is expanding its sanctions against Syria by adding 36 individuals and 19 entities to the list of those already sanctions. On Friday a meeting will be held between the Japanese government and Friends of Syria on ways to make the sanctions more effective.

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=28351&icid=4&d_str=20121127

The UK is encouraging the EU to review the arms embargo portion of sanctions on Syria every three months, instead of simply extending the package for a year It is believed that this might make possible the arming of the opposition, although to date that is not occurring. The EU sanctions on Syria cover bans on visas, asset freezes of individuals and businesses, a ban on oil imports and the embargo on arms being sold to Syria.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has treated the wounded in Syria in very challenging circumstances. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6424&cat=voice-from-the-field
The United Nations humanitarian head, Valerie Amos spoke to the media and complained of Syrian mortar fire which she had seen on Syrian refugees trying to flee and cross the border.

Further Reading on Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-syria-crisis-brotherhood-idUSBRE8AB1CQ20121112
https://twitter.com/ikhwan_syria
http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/whither-syria-s-muslim-brotherhood-1.464382
http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/origins/print.cfm?articleid=70
http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=48370

http://books.google.com/books/about/Far_from_Justice.html?id=498tVKtcREcC
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/06/syria-brotherhood-idAFL5E8G37C520120506
http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-259209-what-sort-of-syria-do-the-ikhwan-want.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/world/middleeast/29syria.html?pagewanted=all

and even if you dislike T. Friedman, his most hopeful comments on the end of Hama rules.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/the-new-hama-rules.html
Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.
Batatu, Hanna. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.
Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.
Porat, Liad. http://www.brandeis.edu/crown/publications/meb/MEB47.pdf

Seurat, Michel. L’État de barbarie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1989.
Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: From Arab Nationalists to a Security Services State.” In Zuhur, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism. Philadelphia: Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Diasporic Studies, 2005.

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

27 Nov

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

Today’s death toll: More than 123.

Yesterday’s death toll: More than 140.

Aleppo province: The Syrian opposition captured the Tishrin Dam in the north just before dawn on Monday. http://arabnews.com/syrian-rebels-seize-major-dam-north-russia-slams-french-support Here the rebels seized the control room yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LdSPTP6s-YI

2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with government forces in al-Leirmon in the city of Aleppo. Clashes took place on the edges of the al-Sakhour neighborhood.
The Syrian military shelled Mare’ and Tal Hasel.

Damascus province: Syrian military shelling resumed today targeting Jobar and Kafrsousa and there were clashes between the opposition and the government forces in Kafrsousa. The Syrian military again shelled the southern neighborhoods of Damascus by air. Clashes took place in al-Zablatani. A mortar shell killed one person at Yarmouk camp. At dawn, clashes broke out between shabiha in the Duweil’a neighborhood and the opposition who were trying to overtake the neighborhood.

Yesterday, the opposition captured a helicopter base at Marj al-Sultan outside Damascus. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/nov/26/syrian-rebels-helicopter-base-video Also see
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/11/25/syrie-l-armee-reguliere-bombarde-les-environs-de-damas_1795628_3218.html

An explosion resulting from a mortar shell was heard in Jaramana. The Syrian military shelled Duma and clashes took place there. The Syrian military detained and tortured one civilian from Duma to death. 3 men were killed in Duma yesterday. Clashes took place in Daraya as the Syrian military attempted to take over the town. One opposition fighter was killed in Daraya. The Syrian military also shelled Daraya, Jdeidat Artouz, al-Rihan, Zabadani and Mu`adamiyya, killing 5 men in Mu`adamiyya today. The Syrian military shelled the Ghouta al-Sharqiyya by air. Clashes took place in Hujeira, Sayyida Zeinab, Yalda and Zamalka. In the morning, the Syrian military shelled the town of Irbeen, killing 2 children. Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled Deir al-Asafir, killing 10 children (some reports indicate 8 children). Cluster bombs were reportedly used. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5wWZ6yGCZ8&feature=player_embedded

Dara`a province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in several parts of Shaykh Maskeen and destroyed houses after shelling the city in the morning. A massacre was reported there by a different source. The Syrian military used tanks to invade the town of Maliha al-Gharbiyya. A sniper loyal to Assad shot an elderly woman, Fatmeh Abd al-Rahman Hariri, in Hreik and civilians retrieved her body after 6 hours. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2L7U84LaHc&feature=youtu.be

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Damina today.

Hassakeh province: The Kurdish fighters of the PYD and the Syrian opposition forces have achieved a truce at Ra’s al-`Ain according to leadership of the Ghuraba al-Sham group.

Homs province:
The Syrian military intensely shelled al-Rastan. The entire family of Mahmoud Adnan Farzat was killed or wounded. Earlier 1 civilian (Farzat’s child) and 6 opposition fighters were reported to be killed in the shelling. 1 civilian died from wounds incurred in yesterday’s shelling of Qusayr. 1 killed in al-Houleh. 3 killed in al-Qusayr. Clashes took place near the town of Qteina.

Idlib province: The Syrian air force bombed the opposition at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing at least six times according to observers, injuring many. The Syrian planes also bombed the refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border which are run by a Turkish charity. Fortunately, the tents were empty.
The Syrian military shelled the villages and towns of al-Bara, al-Fatira, KafrAweid and Taftanaz. An unidentified body was discovered in the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. The Syrian air force shelled opposition bases in the town of Harem, killing one fighter and wounding others. The air force also shelled the town of Atmeh, which is very close to a refugee camp. Turkey fired back at the Syrian air force there. The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in the village of Sallat al-Zuhour.

al-Quneitra province: Yesterday, clashes took place near al-Bariqa village in the liberated part of the Syrian Golan.

The Syrian opposition has formed a commission to set up the future army of a new Syrian government and to coordinate with the new National Coalition, the political opposition Some 50 Free Syrian Officers met and were videoed in a meeting where a statement of objectives and a code of conduct was read. (The FSA has claimed to have as many as 70,000 soldiers, but there is no way to confirm that figure)
al-Raqqa province: The Syria opposition cut off the roads going into Aleppo province which have been important to the regime’s supply lines.
International: France will give the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition 1.2 million Euros to aid its efforts.
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/11/26/la-france-alloue-1-2-million-d-euros-a-la-coalition-de-l-opposition-syrienne_1796216_3218.html

The importance of the opposition’s victories in the east of Syria in an interview with Amr al-Azm
http://www.theworld.org/2012/11/syria-rebels-oil/

The National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition appointed a human rights activist, Walid Safur as its ambassador the UK. Safur, 62 and a former teacher originally from Homs is the president of the Syrian Commission for Human Rights.

Musa Abu Marzuk of Hamas said that Iran must reconsider its support for the Syrian regime in order not to lose support in Arab public opinion. He said that Iran had asked Hamas to support the Syrian regime, Hamas refused and the organization’s relationship with Iran has been affected. (Hamas relocated its leadership to Egypt).

The buying and selling of Syrian refugee brides is taking place, partly as a form of survival, partly in response to what might be called marriage market factors.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/search-for-syrian-brides-unsettles-refugees-in-jordan-8348009.html

The Turkish military announced that Turkish and NATO officials will begin surveying sites for the placement of Patriot missiles to protect its borders against the Syrian military.

UNRWA says that it needs $53 million to care for Palestinians in Syria. 510,000 registered Palestinian refugees are in Syria.

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.

2012 November: With support from the GCC states and the United States, a new Syrian opposition coalition was created called the National Coalition of the Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition. Elections had been held by the Syrian National Council, but claims were made that the new entity was more broadly representative and the new coalition plans to create a transitional government and work toward the downfall of Bashar al-Assad and his institutions.

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

24 Nov

Syria Update, November 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 62 including 19 civilians.

Yesterday’s death toll: 76 including 30 in Damascus and suburbs, 17 in Aleppo, 6 in Dara`a, 5 in Idlib, 4 in Deir az-Zur, 4 in Latakia, 4 in Hama, 2 in Homs, 2 in al-Raqqa, 1 in Banyas and 1 in Quneitra.

The opposition has a grave disadvantage – Assad’s air capabilities. Despite that, the FSA has made some gains through its ground strategies and is capturing DShk guns (dushkas) to target airplanes and helicopters. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/1124/Against-the-odds-Syrian-rebels-begin-to-chip-away-at-regime-s-air-advantage

Aleppo province:
The opposition surrounded and attacked Syrian military troops guarding the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates river located between Aleppo and al-Raqqa provinces, about six miles away from Manbij. As the opposition already controls one main road to al-Raqqa, if they capture the dam, they would have a second route.
Following the anti-Assad forces’ seizure earlier this week of Base 46 west of the city of Aleppo, the opposition is pushing to capture Shaykh Suleiman base to the west of the city, in order to control a wider slice of territory extending from Aleppo up to the Turkish border.
A sniper killed one civilian today in the city of Aleppo.

Damascus province: The opposition shot down a helicopter which was flying over Marj al-Sultan. Opposition fighters took control of parts of the Marj al-Sultan airbase. The Syrian military summarily executed a civilian in the Kafarsousa neighborhood. Clashes took place in western Kafarsousa. A loud explosion was reported in Tishreen near a military police headquarters. The Syrian military killed 2 opposition fighters in the al-Qadam and al-Qaboun neighborhoods.
The Syrian military began trying to storm Daraya today. The Syrian military shelled Duma, killing a man and woman and also it shelled Sabina, killing a man from Homs and his son. Two men were killed by gunfire in Bebila. The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in Wadi Barada. 8 Syrian military troops were killed in actions in Damascus province (outside the city) and 2 were killed in the city of Damascus today.
Dara`a province: 1 civilian was killed at a checkpoint at the village of Qenya. The Syrian military’s shelling of Mzeyrib resulted in the death of one civilian.

Deir az-Zur province: An explanation of the battles in Deir az-Zur and strategy of the FSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzaMjJKFGiU&feature=youtu.be
Clashes in the city of Deir az-Zur resulted in the death of an opposition fighter and one Syrian military soldier.

Hama province: The Syrian military fired at a protest in Bab Qamli, killing a civilian. The Syrian military killed another civilian at his workplace.
al-Hassake province: The fiercest fighting thus far was reported in Ra’s al-`Ain in the last 24 hours, as Kurdish fighters brought in reinforcements from Derik. These clashes are taking place between the Syrian opposition and Kurdish fighters, as the latter, having been promised a degree of autonomy by Assad’s government is essentially acting instead of Assad’s forces.

Homs province: One person was killed by gunfire in the city of Homs. Here is the aftermath of recent bombing near the Khalid ibn Walid mosque in Homs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YtQKZNDh8w
The Syrian military’s fierce bombardment on al-Rastan killed 1 woman. It is also shelling al-Qseir. Three opposition fighters were killed in al-Qseir.

Idlib province: A sniper killed a civilian near the military residences in the city of Idlib. 4 Syrian troops were killed in Idlib province today.
Latakia province: A defected soldier was killed by the Syrian military today in Latakia (outside the city).
Quneitra province: Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled Tal Ahmar heavily and there was a strong response by DSka carriers at Tel Ahmar. An assault against Jabata al-Khashab was reported.

al-Raqqa province: The opposition surrounded and attacked Syrian military troops guarding the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates river located between Aleppo and al-Raqqa provinces, about six miles away from Manbij. As the opposition already controls one main road to al-Raqqa, if they capture the dam, they would have a second route. (also see Aleppo above)

Refugees: 112 Syrians reportedly fled the country last night from Bushra al-Sham and Tal Shihab, ranging in age from infants to one person, 78 years old.

The numbers of refugees at Atmeh, near the Syrian-Turkish border have doubled. They are struggling with mud, lack of water, food and fears that they are stuck here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Hk0xj5asY

UNICEF is readying warm clothing kits and blankets for Syrian refugee children as winter approaches. Consider UNICEF for donations. http://www.unicef.org/media/media_66432.html

The Syrian government said on Friday that Turkey’s plan to place Patriot missiles at its borders is a “new act of provocation.” http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/24/251519.html

International: Five Syrian nationals were arrested in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon on charges that they were planning a bomb attack to coincide with the Ashura mourning rituals as a form of revenge against Hizbullah’s backing of the Assad government and Hizbullah fighters participation in the Syrian campaign against the opposition. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Nov-23/196008-army-arrests-5-syrians-over-ashoura-attack-plot.ashx#axzz2D4Mttr00

Georges Sabra, the president of the Syrian National Council was interviewed by Point of Order (al-Arabiyya) on the state of the opposition given the formation of the new National Coalition for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition,. http://english.alarabiya.net/videos/20121123-pointoforder.html

The Hewlett Packard corporation responded to a request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Global Security Risk to state whether HP products were sold to countries now subject to U.S. sanctions, including Syria. HP said that its products could have been delivered to Syria by distributors or resellers but that it did not sell directly to the country. The U.S. SEC made it clear that it was aware that the Italian company, Area SpA, installed HP products in Syria in surveillance and tracking system
that monitored Syrians, (and has presumably been used to capture, detain and torture them).

Syria and Russia: A Few Questions

Q. Why does Russia support the regime of Bashar al-Assad?

A.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e64a3076-c9b2-11e1-a5e2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2DB25kMfp

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/09/opinion/russia-syria-relations/index.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/05/syria-crisis-russia-western-meddling

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/why-russia-wont-abandon-syria-7140

Tartus:

http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/08/21/russias-syrian-naval-base/

citizens:

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/another-reason-for-russias-interest-in-syria/

Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.

http://www.questia.com/library/65212800/the-communist-movement-in-syria-and-lebanon

*personal witnessing of the seizure of communists and Maoists (alleged) by the H. al-Assad regime.

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

A. No. (However, some former communists are part of the revolution)

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/syria180411.html

http://www.marxist.com/in-defence-of-the-syrian-revolution-the-marxist-perspective.htm

Syria Update, November 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 Nov

Syria Update, November 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

40,129 Syrians have been killed in the 20 months since the revolution began.

Today’s early deathtoll: 54.

Deathtoll for 11/22: More than 130 killed including 54 civilians, 40 opposition fighters, and 34 Syrian military troops loyal to Assad.

The new National Coalition for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition, based in Cairo, will soon open an office in Istanbul. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-299070-syrian-national-coalition-to-open-office-in-istanbul.html

How aid from Turkey reaches hungry Syrians who can no longer harvest their crops in areas like Jabal Akrad in Latakia province. http://humanitariannews.org/20121123/syrian-arab-republic-syrian-aid-smugglers-haggle-flour-turkey

Aleppo province: Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were again fought at the Aleppo citadel. The Syrian military shelled the al-Sakhour neighborhood and killed 2 opposition fighters in the previous shelling on Itha’a. Reports of 10 unidentified bodies in Midan. Anti-regime Friday demonstrations took place in Shaykh Fares, Firdaws, Ma’adi, Masaken Hanano, Qadi Askar, Salaheddin, and Sukkari. Here is the demonstration in Ma`adi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bms4C85Cs3w

Anti-regime demonstrations were also held in the towns of al-Bab, Darat Izza, Deir Hafer, al-Halazoun, Hreitan, Manbaj, and Mare’.

Damascus province: The Syrian military shelled the al-Qaboun neighborhood in Damascus killing 1 person. In al-Qaboun a very large anti-regime demonstration took place today. 2 bodies that had been tortured were discovered in the Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood. Clashes took place in Kfar Soussa today. The bodies of 7 summarily executed persons were found in al-Qadam today.

The Syrian military shelled al-Mezzeh early Thursday, injuring a woman inside her apartment and destroying buildings. Another mortar shell hit a middle school just as 900 students were about to take an exam. The students took shelter in the basement.

Yesterday, a bomb blast went off under the car of a PLFP-GC activist, wounding him and killing 4 others in Yarmouk camp.

Wednesday, opposition fighters assassinated Syrian journalist, Basel Yousef, who worked for the Syrian General Organization for Radio and Television, in the Tadamon neighborhood.

The Syrian regime shelled the towns of Mu’adamiyya and Daraya killing 5 opposition troops and 1 other person. The Syrian military is heavily shelling Saqba. Clashes are continuing in Daraya. The Syrian regime is also shelling Jisreen and Sabina.

Dara`a province: The Syrian regime shelled the towns of Mzeyreb and Da’el. Anti-regime demonstrations took place in Busra al-Sham, Mseifra, Ma’arba, Tafas and Yaduda, and in the Kashif and Tariq al-Sad neighborhoods of the city of Dara`a.

A wounded civilian who had been shot by sniper in Busra al-Sham died today.

Deir az-Zur province: The decomposed body of Muhammad Rashid al-Ruweili, a Syrian novelist and former head of the writer’s union in Deir az-Zur was discovered last night. It has been 2 months since he was kidnapped.

The Syrian military shelled the Shaykh Yasin and Hamidiyya areas of the city of Deir az-Zur. This city has been devastated due to the current increase in Syrian military airstrikes (here & in other regions Syria) especially in the last 4 days.
http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/11/21/a-barrage-of-missiles-in-syria?videoId=239310938

Hama province: Anti-regime demonstrations took place in several neighborhoods of the city of Hama today.

The Syrian military is shelling the village of Huweiz. Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition have killed 2 opposition fighters near the Uqayrabat branch. Anti-regime protests moved through the towns of Kafarzeita and Khattab today. The Syrian military invaded the village of al-Sheir, destroying homes and detaining village residents.

Hassake province: Clashes were ongoing yesterday in Ra’s al-`Ain between the Kurdish People’s Defense units and opposition fighters from the Ghuraba al-Sham and Jabhat Nusra (Nusra Front). By early a.m. today, 8 had been killed from the Nusra Front and 1 Kurdish fighter was killed.
A Kurdish fighter claimed that the Kurdish national councils in western Kurdistan agreed that PYD (DUP) forces will unite with other Kurdish dissidents who are fighting the Syrian opposition.
http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/23/251365.html
Kurdish sources report that the Syrian opposition will not recognize Kurdish autonomy, but believe that Kurds are a part of the Syrian nation. http://ikjnews.com/?p=4614

A Syrian Catholic bishop of Hassake-Nisibe, Monsignor Bahnen Hindo issued an appeal to the United Nations and Pope Benedict XVI asking that the FSA and other armed opposition groups not move into Jezirah, an area to which 400,000 internally displaced Syrians have fled. He fears that the Syrian military will bomb and destroy the area in response (as it has done in other Syrian provinces. He also called for the armed groups to leave Ra’s al-`Ain, a border town from which some 30,000 people have fled. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/61993-syrian-bishop-appeals-for-refugees-in-jezireh-region

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled al-Rastan today.

Idlib province: The Syrian military is shelling the towns of al-Bara, Kafranbal, Kafrouma, and Sarmin. Anti-regime demonstrations took place in Banash, Kafarnabal, Ma`arat Masrin, and Taftanaz. A car-bomb exploded at a military checkpoint near the military barracks in the city of Idlib close to the highway to Sarmin. Three Syrian military troops were killed.

Refugees: Some Syrian refugees do not want to confined to refugee camps and are moving into other towns or cities, in Turkey, for example. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20433238

International: The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov is to discuss his country’s opposition to Patriot missiles being placed at the Turkish border by telephone with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The Syrian government and the Iranian government have also complained about the Turkish request to NATO.

A Hizbullah official was wounded in al-Qusayr while fighting with the Syrian military loyal to Assad against the Syrian opposition and taken to hospital in the Biqa`.

Qatar asked the new National Coalition for the Syrian Revolution to appoint an ambassador to Qatar. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Nov-23/195965-qatar-asks-syrian-opposition-to-name-ambassador.ashx#axzz2D4Mttr00

The UN refugee agency says that the numbers of Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries and registered their refugee status has doubled since September. They set that number more than 440,000.

The Iranian speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani met with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad today after traveling to Damascus. Prior to his meeting with Assad, Larijani met with the officials of the PFLP-GC in Syria and then traveled to Lebanon where he congratulated the Palestinian people on their “victory” against Israel.

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.

2012 November: With support from the GCC states and the United States, a new Syrian opposition coalition was created called the National Coalition of the Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition, which was recognized by Turkey, the Arab League, France, the UK, and the EU.

By the end of November, more than 40,000 Syrians have been killed since the outset of the uprising March 15, 2011.

Syria Update, November 20, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

21 Nov

Syria Update, November 20, 2012. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 108 persons including 40 civilians.

Revised death toll for Monday: 134 killed.

The UK has agreed to recognize the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578130834104211440.html

Aleppo province: The bodies of 6 civilians who had been summarily executed by the Syrian military were found in Tariq al-Bab. The Syrian military killed one man in shelling on Salahaddin. Shelling of Manah injured several persons. A sniper killed a woman in Jami`yat al-Zahra. The Liwa al-Tawhid Brigade, the Aleppo Military Council and the Transitional Military Council announced their allegiance to the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-VB95oTJdS8
Yesterday, base 46 of the Syrian military was taken by the Syrian opposition and today, reporters of Associated Press saw the bodies of 7 Syrian troops there.

The Syria military shelled the village of Hoor killing one child. Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes near the air defense base in Shaykh Sleiman.

Damascus province: Heavy shelling destroyed buildings and killed 10 civilians in Daraya today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdlOnIqD_SM&feature=youtu.be
Shelling on Hajar al-Aswad killed 4 civilians today. A body was found in al-Jobar and a body discovered in al-Qadam. 2 mortar shells were launched into the Syrian Ministry of Information building in central Damascus. 3 dead bodies showing the marks of torture were found in Mu’adamiyyat al-Sham. A mortar shell fell on my former neighborhood of Abu Rumaneh in Damascus (I used to live underneath the perennially unscheduled Constitutional Court) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aI-8hyQcPzM

Shelling on al-Shifoniya killed one civilian. Three men’s bodies were found in Harasta, and a sniper killed one in Harasta. In Harasta,and Irbeen 4 opposition fighters were killed by Syrian troops. Opposition fighters killed one man in Yabrub, presumably for sectarian reasons. One opposition fighter was killed in gunfire at a checkpoint in the city of Dumeir. A sniper killed a civilian from the village of Qalat al-Faki in the town of Sehnaya today.

Dara`a province: Heavy clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were reported near Dara`a’s highway today.

Deir az-Zur province: 3 Syrian troops were killed here today. Ahmad Amir Abboud al-Hajr was killed today as well. ttp://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=449531371748691&set=a.193299227371908.37088.193044387397392&type=1&relevant_count=1
Syrian military air strikes on al-Mayadden killed Ammar Ibrahim Al Shlash, a child.

and Khalifah Ahmad Abdulfattah.

Hassake province: Renewed fighting in Ra’s al-`Ain resulted in the deaths of 4 members of the Kurdish defense units (of the DUP). 14 opposition fighters from the Nusra Front and the Ghuraba al-Sham brigade were killed in clashes with the Kurdish fighters.

al-Homs province: The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Qseir killing 1 civilian. Pro-regime shabiha killed one civilian today. 1 civilian was killed by the bombardment on the city of al-Qseir. 1 civilian was killed after he was kidnapped by pro-regime gunmen. 11 Syrian troops were killed today in Homs province.

Idlib province: The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in Ma`arat al-Nu`man and shelled that town today. 5 Syrian troops were killed in the province today. A Syria fighter jet blasted the town of Taftaz. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFvjqoI7o64&feature=player_embedded

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled Jabal al-Turkman. 2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with the Syrian military in the Latakia countryside. 5 Syrian troops were killed in this province today.

Al-Raqqah province: 1 Syrian soldier was killed today.

International:

The UK has agreed to recognize the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578130834104211440.html

NATO member states agreed to supply Turkey with Patriot missiles to defend its borders against Syrian attacks. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-syria-crisis-turkey-idUSBRE8AJ0FE20121120

The head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party rejected the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition today. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-syria-kurds-opposition-idUSBRE8AJ1FV20121120

The Friends of Syria group which supports the Syrian opposition is set to convene in Marrakesh, Morocco on December 12th and Hilary Clinton, currently, US Secretary of State, is to attend along with more than 100 delegations.
Iran has started building a $10 million natural gas pipeline to Syria which is to pass through Iraq. http://www.arabnews.com/iran-starts-building-gas-pipeline-syria

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