Syria Update, November 15 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

16 Nov

Syria Update, November 15, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Thursday’s death toll: At least 121 including 57 civilians (8 children among them), 30 opposition troops, 32 Syrian military troops, 2 defectors)

Wednesday’s death toll: Approximately 135 Syrians were killed yesterday including 54 civilians,

Aleppo province: A visit with a family in war-torn Aleppo http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/11/20121114203327867847.html The Syrian military shelled the Sakhour, Masaken Hannano and al-Haydariyya neighborhoods and the town of Beza’a. Clashes took place in the Khaldiyya, Sakhour and al-Sabeel neighborhoods. Syrian military resumed shelling on the Layramoun. Opposition fighters seized the al-Kindi medical facility and reported they had seized the al-Kindi checkpoint.
The Syrian military shelled al-Bab and clashes were fought there killing 3 opposition fighters including a commander of the revolutionary security council. Yesterday’s shelling on Kafarhamra killed 1 child. The Syrian military shelled the town of Kafa Da’el and the villages of Aziza, Maslakh and Harbil.
Damascus province: Some 20,000 opposition troops have moved into areas of Damascus in a mission called “Pushing Forward to Damascus,” and troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad have been increased around the city and launched a major operation. In clashes in the Qadam neighborhood, 1 man was killed. The Syrian military shelled Hamouriya, Tadamun, Qadam, al-Asali, Saqba and the Yarmouk camp. Several rockets fell on al-Midan and southern neighborhoods, and Irbeen was shelled and clashes took place there. 3 opposition troops were killed in Hajar al-Aswad and shelling on al-Yarmouk killed 1 man. The Syrian military shelled Daraya, killed 1 man.
Clashes took place in al-Buweida, where there were reports of the destruction of several military vehicles, and five people were killed by shelling.

The Syrian airforce shelled the town of Zamalka and the village of Hosh al-Etmel, killing 3 civilians. The Syrian military restarted shelling on Mu’adamiyya and Beit Sahm and the eastern Ghouta where one man was killed.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya. Intense gunfire came from checkpoints around the towns of Gherz and al-Mzeyreeb. Gunfire was reported at the Attahweeleh roadblock on the east side of Mahajjeh.

Deir az-Zor province: Opposition fighters shot down a war plane at al-Bukamal. Intense clashes took place in al-Bukamal and the opposition took over some security branches.

Hama province: Very large explosions were reported in Hama followed by gunfire. The Syrian military were firing with machine guns at the village of Sheeha.

Hassakeh province: Yesterday, the opposition seized the Asfar al-Najjar military compound in clashes which killed 18 regular soldiers and 3 rebel fighters

Kurdish militiamen took over the town of Derik in what is being called a “dirty game” by the Assad regime, to create problems for Turkey. Several towns have already been seized by these militias since July when Assad’s forces retreated there. http://gulfnews.com/in-focus/syria/kurds-take-another-town-in-syrian-dirty-game-1.1105387

Fighting at Ras al-`Ain came to an end with the opposition holding the border town.

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

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled Jabal al-Turkman today.

Al-Raqqah province: An airstrike hit ar-Raqqah.

Borders: On the Turkish-Syrian border: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2012/11/12/album/1352734615_434590.html#1352734615_434590_1352735521

International:

Turkey recognizes the new National Coalition as the legitimate body of the Syrian opposition.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/world/middleeast/turkey-recognizes-new-syrian-rebel-group-as-legitimate-leader-of-syria.html?smid=fb-share

Cylinders intended for Syria’s missile program from North Korea were intercepted on a Chinese ship last May, a violation of the sanctions adopted by the U.N.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/14/us-korea-north-syria-un-idUSBRE8AD07820121114

The French foreign minister discussed the possibility of sending defensive weapons to the Syrian opposition. He will ask the EU to lift the embargo on sending arms in order to permit such shipments to them. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121115/syria/

David Cameron was scheduled to hold a meeting of senior cabinet members on Syria today.

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr is leading a plan to protect medical workers and make sure that Syrians have access to hospitals. The plan requires the Syrian government and the opposition to agree not to attack medical facilities and personnel and ensure access and care. Hilary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State supports the plan.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov has reacted negatively to the establishment of the new Coalition of the Revolution despite his meeting with Gulf state ministers, saying that the priority must be to end the bloodshed and not to create a new opposition.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%


Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 


Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

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