Archive | December, 2012

Syria Update, December 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

29 Dec

Syria Update, December 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: 160 Syrians killed today including 52 civilians (and of these, 12 children)

This Friday was called the bread of blood Friday to commemorate those killed at bakeries and many protests held today recognized this issue.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Assad might have requested asylum with several governments in South and Central America, and it was confirmed by Turkey that his government did make such a request of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
http://www.todayszaman.com/news-302248-turkey-confirms-syrias-assad-asked-venezuela-for-asylum.html

The involvement of women in the revolution against Bashar al-Assad in the town of al-Zabadani. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otc6J9EQGiw

Defections: There were unconfirmed reports on 12/27 that Col. Anwar Ruslan, Deputy head of investigation in the Syrian General Intelligence and Col. Ya’roub al-Shara the chairman of the political security division will defect. On 12/28, Turkish reports said that two regional Syrian Air force commanders had defected and were in a camp in Turkey.

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The regime forces shelled all through the night into the morning (12/29) hours in Aleppo. Many civilians were injured near the al-Nairab airport and al-Dowairneh as they’ve fled trying to escape the shelling. Opposition fighters are battling around 4 airports in Aleppo province.

A sniper shot two civilians in the neighborhoods of al-Qasr and Qastal Harami in Aleppo.

The Syrian military shelled Fasira killing 1 civilian. A sniper shot one civilian in al-Fasira. Shelling of al-Zarba killed one young man and clashes there resulted in the deaths of 5 regular soldiers and the regular troops have retreated. Clashes near the Kweiris airport and Khan al-A’sal occurred in which 2 opposition fighters were killed.

Heavy clashes took place near the Aleppo International airport between the al-Nusra Front fighters and the government troops. Clashes took place in Hendrat and near the al-Kendi hospital. The regime forces at the Aleppo prison have said they were execute the Islamist prisoners in the prison if the opposition attacks them.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A car bomb detonated in Rijah square of the Yarmouk camp. A sniper shot one man in al-Qaboun. Assad supporters executed Samir Murshed Alsaud,a native of Deir Ezzor in Tadamon today.

The Syrian military used airpower, mortars and artillery to bombard Douma, Shab’a, Daraya, Harasta, Irbeen and the area near the motor vehicle department, killing a child in Douma. There were also clashes in Irbeen, Daraya and near the motor vehicle deparment, killing one opposition fighter in Irbeen.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Shelling took place all through the night of 12/28 into the early morning hours in the province.

A sniper shot one civilian in the Palestinian camp in the city of Dara`a.

The Syrian military shot one civilian in the town of Basr al-Harir. Heavy clashes between Syrian troops and the opposition took place at Busr al-Harir in which 7 opposition fighters were killed.

Deir az-Zur province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The opposition captured the Tanak oil field today outside Deir az-Zur. Opposition fighters were killed: Hamza Abd Alkhalif Albidyowi Alwakaa, from the village of Sweidan Jazira

and Abdullah Eid Aljlood http://youtu.be/2puAn04yH_k

This was the 198th day that the Assad regime has carried out a campaign of bombarding the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military shelled Huweiqa, Rushdiyya, Khsarat

The Huweiqa, Rushdiya, and Khsarat neighbourhoods of Deir Ezzour were bombarded by regime forces and they shelled al- Jbeileh, al-Arfi, al-Muathafin and Shaykh Yasin. Clashes also took place with rebels in the Khsarat neighbourhood. An opposition leader in the city of al-Mayadeen was killed was killed during clashes.

Pro-Assad thugs killed Hajj Marwan Muhammad Yasin al-Hadidi (over 76 years old) in al-Jbayla.

After being arrested in his home in Alwadi in al-Jura, regime security killed Imad Khidr Almadi.

Government actors shot Mheidi Saleh Almuhammad at al-Mi’bar in Huweijat Sakr where he was buried.

Hama province

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD
The Syrian air force shelled the village of Latmeen today causing injuries. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Kafarzeita, destroying homes and causing injuries.

Hassake province https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

27 Christian officers defected in Qamishle earlier this week.

Homs province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled Houla and the city of Rastan causing injuries and destroying homes.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A Palestinian, Muhammad Ahmad Quneita, 35 of Gaza was killed while fighting with the Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra Front against regime forces near the Wadi al-Dayf military encampment. He was reportedly a previous member of the al-Qassam Brigades who has been fighting in Syria for 5 months.

The Syrian airforce bombarded the village of Ma’arshurin and the area around the Wadi al-Dayf military encampment. Two opposition fighters were killed and 6 regular troops deserted from the al-Hamadiyya checkpoint.

A protest in Salqin was held to denounce the regime’s bombing of bakeries and civilians waiting for bread and to support the revolution today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeEGbPa7PVA

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military launched intense shelling on the town of Salma today and the villages around it.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+quneitra+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=GaDbUNjUF8Xm0QHmwIDgDQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Heavy fighting was reported today near the Golan Heights.

Raqqa province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Heavy shelling took place all through the night (of 12/28) into the morning hours.

Opposition fighters attacked the 17th division on the outskirts of the city of al-Raqqa, killing 3 opposition fighters.

There was a shelling on a bakery today.

Suwaida province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+suwayda+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15198e45f1726311:0x21daec3963f8161e,As-Suwayda+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=XFreUNinG-jO0QHxzoD4Cg&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

2 civilian activists were shot on the way to work on their land to the west of the town of al-Qariya.

International: Islamic Jihad has denied involvement in the Syrian government’s efforts to put down the opposition in Yarmouk camp in Damascus. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2284140&language=en

Moaz al-Khatib, the head of Syria’s National Coalition for the Revolution was invited to Moscow for talks on the crisis but refused to go because his group will not negotiate with Assad and neither Russia nor the Syrian government has recognized the opposition. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121228

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI, the Philippine port operator which has a contract to operate the port of Tartous is leaving Syria due to the instability and danger in the country.

Selected Bibliography on Syria by Sherifa Zuhur

Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.

Abu Khalil, `Asad. “Syria and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Current History. Vol. 93, 1994.

Avi-Ran, Reuven. The Syrian Involvement in Lebanon since 1975. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1991.

Batatu, Hanna. “Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria’s Ruling Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 35, 1981.

_________. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.

_________. Syria’s Peasantry, The Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Betts, Robert B. The Druze. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Blecher, Robert. “History as Social Critique in Syrian Film: Muhammad Malas’ al-Leil and Ryad Chaia’s al-Lajat.” Middle East Report. No. 204, July-September, 1997.

Clawson, Patrick. Unaffordable Ambitions: Syria’s Military Build-up and Economic Crisis. Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989.

Davis, Uri. “Citizenship Legislation in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996.

Devlin, John. The Ba`th Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.

Drysdale, Alasdair. “The Succession Question in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 39, No. 2, 1985.

Drysdale, Alasdair and Hinnebusch, Raymond. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1991.

Early, Evelyn. “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” In Children in the Muslim Middle East. Edited by Elizabeth Fernea. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Gelvin, James. “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 26, No. 4, 1994.

_________. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1990.

__________. “State and Civil Society in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, No.2, Spring 1993.

__________. “State, Civil Society and Political Change in Syria.” In Civil Society in the Middle East. Edited by Augustus R. Norton. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

Hopfinger, Han and Boeckler, Marc. “Step by Step to an Open Economic System: Syria Sets Course for Liberalization.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 23, No. 2, November 1996.

Hopwood, Derek. Syria, 1945-1986: Politics and Society. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Kanovsky, Eliahu. “Syria’s Troubled Economic Future.” Middle East Quarterly. Vol. 4, No. 2, June 1997.

Kaplan, Robert. “Syria — Identity Crisis.” The Atlantic. Vol. 271, February, 1993.

Kayali, Ghalib. Hafiz al-Assad: Qa’id wa risala. Damascus, 1977.

Kedar, Mordechai. “The Public Political Language of the Asad Regime in Syria: Messages and Means of Communication.” Ph.D. dissertation. Bar-Ilan University, 1998.

Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.

_________. “A Reinterpretation of the Origins and Aims of the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-1927.” In Arab Civilization: Challenges, Responses, Studies in Honor of Constantine Zurayk. Edited by George Atiyeh and Ibrahim Oweiss. Albany: State University of New York, 1988.

_________. “Syrian Political Culture.” In Syria: Society, Culture, and Polity. Edited by Richard T. Antoun and Donald Quataert. Albany: State University of New York, 1991.

_________. “Syrian Urban Politics in Transition: The Quarters of Damascus during the French Mandate.” In The Modern Middle East. Edited by Albert Hourani, Philip Khoury, Philip and Mary Wilson. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.

Kienle, Eberhard. Ba’th versus Ba’th. The Conflict Between Syria and Iraq, 1968-1989. London: I.B. Tauris, 1990.

Kienle, Eberhard, ed. Contemporary Syria: Economic Liberalization between Cold War and Cold Peace. London: British Academic Press, 1994.

Lawson, Fred. “External versus Internal Pressures for Liberalization in Syria and Iraq.” Journal of Arab Affairs. Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992.

_________. “Domestic Transformation and Foreign Steadfastness in Contemporary Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 48, Winter 1994.

Lobmeyer, Hans. “Islamic Ideology and Secular Discourse. The Islamists of Syria.” Orient. Vol. 32, 1991.

Longuenesse, Elisabeth. “The Syrian Working Class Today.” Middle East Report. Vol. 15, No. 134, July-August 1985.

Ma’oz, Moshe. Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

__________. “Alawi Military Officers in Syrian Politics.” In The Military and State in Modern Asia. Edited by H.Z. Schiffrin. Jerusalem: Academic Press, 1976.

__________. Asad, Sphinx of Damascus. London: Weldenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Ma’oz, Moshe and Yaniv, Avner, eds. Syria under Assad: Domestic Constraints and Regional Risks. New York: St. Martin’s 1986.

Mardam Bey, Salma. Syria’s Quest for Independence. Reading: Ithaca, 1994.

Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.

Middle East Watch Committee, eds. Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Regime. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

Moosa, Matti. “Naqqash and the Rise of the Native Arab Theater in Syria.” Journal of Arabic Literature, 3, 1972.

Muslih, Muhammad. “The Golan: Israel, Syria and Strategic Considerations.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, 1993.

Omar, Saleh. “Philosophical Origins of the Arab Ba’th Party: The Work of Zaki al-Arsuzi.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 1996.

Perthes, Volker. “The Bourgeoisie and the Ba’th.” Middle East Report. 21, No. 3, May-June 1991.

__________. The Political Economy of Syria Under Asad. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

__________. “Si Vis Stabilatatem, Para Bellum: State Building, National Security and War Preparation in Syria.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Qudsi, Safwan. al-Batal wa al-tarikh. Qira’a fi fikr Hafiz al-Asad al-siyasi. Damascus: Dar Tlas, 1984.

Rabinovich, Itamar. Syria Under the Ba’th. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press and New York: Halstead, 1972.

Rathmell, Andrew. Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle for Syria, 1949-1961. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

Raymond, André. La Syrie d’aujourd’hui. Paris: CNRS, 1980.

Roberts, David. The Ba’th and the Creation of Modern Syria. London: Croom Helm, 1987.

Russell, Malcolm. The First Modern Arab State: Syria under Faysal 1918-1920. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1985.

Sadowski, Yahya. “Patronage and the Ba’th: Corruption and Control in Contemporary Syria.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 9, No. 4, 1987.

Schami, Rafik. Damascus Nights. Trans. by Philip Boehm. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993.

Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958. London: I.B. Tauris, 1986.

________. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Seurat, Michel. L’État de barbarie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1989.

al-Sharif, Samim. al-Musiqa fi Suriya: A`lam wa tarikh. Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa wa al-Irshad, 1991.

Sluglett, Peter and Farouk-Sluglett, Marion. “The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary Observations.” In Tarif Khalidi, ed. Land Tenure and Social Transformation in the Middle East. Beirut: American University in Berut, 1984.

Sultan, `Ali. Tarikh Suriya. Vol. 1 (1908-1918) and Vol. 2 (1918 – 1920). Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1987.

Tauber, Eliezer. The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq. Ilford, Essex, England and Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass, 1995.

Thompson, Elizabeth. “The Climax and Crisis of the Colonial Welfare State in Syria and Lebanon during World War II.” In War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East. Edited by Steven Heydemann. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Tibawi, Abdul Latif. A Modern History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine. London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1969.

Tlass, Mustafa. L’histoire politique de la Syrie contemporaine, 1918-1990. Mustafa Tlass, Joseph Hajjar. Damascus: Dar al-Tlas, 1993.

Torrey, Gordon N. Syrian Politics and the Military 1945-1958. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964.

Van Dam, Nikolaos. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961 – 1980. London: Croom Helm, 1981.

Watenpaugh, Keith. “Middle Class Modernity and the Persistence of the Politics of the Notables.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 35, Number 2, May 2003.

Wedeen, Lisa. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Weulersse, Jacques. Le pays des Alouites. Vol. 1 Tours: 1940.

__________. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: Gallimard, 1946.

Zisser, Eyal. “The Syrian Army: Between the Domestic and the External Fronts.” Middle East Review of International Affairs. Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2001.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Bashar al-Assad.” In the Encyclopedia of the Arab Israeli Conflict, Edited by Spencer Tucker, Santa Barbara and London: ABC-Clio, 2008

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: Haven for Terrorists?” Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities. Vol. 2 Jamestown: Jamestown Foundation, 2005.

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.

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

27 Dec

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

Deathtoll: 140 have been killed.

Tuesday’s deathtoll: 190

Reportage on opposition attacks in Idlib. http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/12/26/crafting-the-fundamentals-of-warfare-in?videoId=240128396&videoChannel=1

Defections: A Syrian military police chief, General Abd al-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, defected from the Assad regime and crossed into Turkey on Wednesday at the Cilvegozu border crossing in the town of Reyhanli
according to the Anatolian news agency.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20843341

Muhammad Adnan Arabo, a member of parliament has left the country and defected.

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes occurred between the Syrian military and opposition fighters near the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, an area the government forces have been trying to break into.

Faysal al-Hallak, 58, was found dead in his car near Salmiyya in Aleppo province. He was a political prisoner for 11 years, held on charges of being affiliated to the Communist Labor party. Two unidentified corpses were found with along with him in the car.

Opposition fighters stormed the mayor’s house in Khanaser.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Safira. Violent clashes continued near the Mangh military airport, a target of the opposition. Violent clashes are still ongoing in the perimeter of the Kweiris military airport by the police academy in Reef Aleppo.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes were fought near the perimeter of the Yarmouk camp and on Thalatheen street, as rockets were shot at the area. Clashes took place in Tishreen and the government forces shelled Tishreen.

The Syrian opposition shot down a military helicopter over the Mazzeh military airport.

Syrian military forces shelled the area near the motor vehicle department, between the towns of Irbeen and Harasta. The Syrian military shelled Douma, al-Hejeira, Kafarbatna, al-Maliha, and al-Zabandi killing 3 children. Clashes took place on the agricultural land of al-Shifoniya and near Ain Terma. One opposition fighter died of wounds incurred in clashes in al-Zabadani. Snipers killed 2 men in Harasta and Zamalka. 2 men were found dead in Daraya and Qatana.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Ragheb Abdulqader al-Taha was killed by Syrian forces in Hawejat Saqur. The regime forces killed Ahmed Mohammad Kassar al-Aziz, of the FSA in clahses in the al-Jbayla neighborhood of the city of Deir az-Zur.

Muntaha al-Hiso, died in Turkey from wounds received when shot by a sniper in al-Jbayla in Deir az-Zur two weeks ago.

Abdallah al-Hamid al-Faraj al-Radawi, from Al-Bseireh suffered an athsma attack and died even though he was in the hospital since there were no oxygen tanks.

The Syrian military shelled the city of Deir az-Zur with artillery shells and missiles, targeting al-Arfi, Hamidiyah, Shaykh Yasin and Masaken al-Hizb.

Clashes took place in al-Jbayla and Hawiqeh.

The city was extremely cold and there is no heat available for residents.

The FSA’s siege on Deir az-Zur military airport continued as they hope to free it from regime control.

Shelling on the city of Deir az-Zur today.

Here an Free Syrian Army leader describes the situation in Deir az-Zur

Hama province

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Snipers fired on a team of Al Jazeera journalists, killing a local guide, and activist Abu Yezen al-Hamawi a Syrian national who had been assisting them.

The SOHR has condemned evidence that opposition fighters from al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham desecrated the bodies of regular Syrian troops which they ambushed near the village of al-Zaghba on Friday, where casualties were more than 50.

Homs province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled the Khaldiya and Jourat al-Shayyah neighborhoods of Homs today.

The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Za’farana causing injuries.

This video is of a father saying farewell to the seventh of his 7 sons killed by the Assad regime. 6 of his sons, 5 of his grandchildren and his wife were killed at Kafr Alzitoon. They went to Alnbuk, but were not safe there either, that’s where this son was killed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM6fJCuCe2c&feature=youtu.be

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
The Syrian opposition finally captured the town of Harem (20,000) near the border. http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2012/dec/26/syrian-rebels-make-gains-in-north/

Heavy clashes were ongoing today between Syrian troops and al-Nusra Front as well as other battalions near the Wadi al-Deif encampment, Ain Qrei, al-Hamdiyya and al-Za`lana.

Opposition fighters packed explosives into a bulldozer and drove it into the encampment where it exploded. This was followed by some of the heaviest clashes in months. 5 opposition fighters were killed as well as several regular troops.

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombarded a house in the village of al-Khadra by helicopter killing 6 opposition fighters.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+quneitra+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=GaDbUNjUF8Xm0QHmwIDgDQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled the town of Jeba, killing 3 civilians. Clashes with opposition fighters also took place.

Raqqa province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled regime the villages of Mazra’at Ya’rub and Rabi`a.

The Syrian military shelled an area near Qahtaniyya village to the west of the city of Raqqa killing 40 civilians including women and children.

International: Lakhdar Brahimi will arrive in Moscow on a one-day visit Saturday to discuss Syria.

Faysal Muqdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, and Ahmad Arnus, a foreign ministry official left Syria for Moscow (for meetings) at midnight on Tuesday. Reports indicate that they are asking Russian advice on Brahimi’s peace plan. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/26/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121226

Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html

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.

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

23 Dec

Syria Update, December 22, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: At least 158

Russian military advisors are manning Syria’s SAMs and other systems put in place to defend the country since the uprising began. (only the first paragraph of this story discusses this) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/23/syria-crisis-russian-military-presence

A nurse from Canada worked in a cave to save to help care for wounded Syrians as part of a Médecins Sans Frontières mission.
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1305990–toronto-nurse-kirsty-robertson-cared-for-hundreds-in-cave-in-syria

Who are the members of the Syrian National Coalition?
http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=50104

Liberated Saraqeb puts up a Christmas tree
http://www.juancole.com/2012/12/liberated-christmas-christians.html

Several opposition factions have joined to create an Islamic Front in Syria (as an alternative to the military council representing the majority of fighters in the FSA) and whose goal is an Islamic state in Syria.

The opposition states that 194,000 Syrians are being held in detention; 9,000 of them are children. This is a difficult number to estimate because people have been detained and then released, re-detained, and detained and then “disappeared.”

The Theater:

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Aleppo province: Clashes took place between al-Nusra Front fighters and regime forces in the area near the defense factories close to the town of al-Safeira. The Syrian air force is also shelling the town of al-Safeira where several buildings collapsed, with people reportedly trapped and one child was been pulled out of the rubble. 12 were killed in yesterday’s shelling of al-Safeira.
The Ansari neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombarded by regime forces, no reports of losses yet. The town of Hureitan was also bombarded by regime forces.

The al Nusra Front has declared a no-fly zone over Aleppo. It argues that the Syrian government is using commercial flights to transport military troops and equipment.

It has issued a warning to any civilians boarding commercial flights, and it is besieging al-Nairab airfield and will fire at any airplane over Aleppo’s skies.

In Northern Aleppo Col. Anas Ibrahim Abu Zeid commanded 200 fighters who took over the 135th Infantry Brigade base at the village of Hawa, capturing weapons and Syrian regime soldiers. The operation took 4 hours. About 150 Syrian troops were at the base.

Damascus province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Shelling on the al-Qa`a neighborhood killed a civilian. A mortar strike on al-Qusoor on Saturday night killed a child. Haydar al-Samadi, a Syrian photojournalist working for the Syrian News Agency was assassinated by fighters in the Kafarsousah neighbourhood of Damascus, yesterday.

A little girl was killed as regime forces attacked near a bakery in the Eastern Ghouta.

Shabiha or pro-regime informers killed the commander of the al-Ghouta Martyr’s Brigade, Abu Bashir al-Ajweh.

According to the Damascus Military Council of the opposition yesterday, 200 army troops at the Damascus International airport have defected

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=yarmouk+camp+damascus+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e0fc136705b9:0xb2e471ad896d9f06,Al+Yarmouk+Camp,+Damascus,+Syria&gl=us&ei=elTRUK6TCI6J0QHs0YHQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A Palestinian official, Zakharia al-Agha (of the PLO) said at least 700 Palestinians have died in the conflict in Syria, including in recent violence in Yarmouk (which has involved opposition-on-PFLP-GC violence, but also the Syrian military on civilians and on Palestinians fighting with the opposition). A Syrian official claimed that no Syrian troops fired on Palestinians (the reader can consult past Syria Updates to see this claim appears to be without substance).

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A woman moves to retrieve a man shot by a sniper in Dara`a.

The regime forces shelled a makeshift hospital in Tariq al-Sadd.

Deir az-Zur province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The aftermath of shelling on Hamidiyya in Deir az-Zur on Sunday.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

The Syrian regime forces shelled Taminah killing a 3 year old child and wounding 3 women.

The Syrian military shelled a bread line in Halfaya. At least 60 have been reported killed and more than 50 wounded (the queue was apparently very large).

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Karnaz, Kafarzeita and Kafarnbouda today.

Hassake province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Demonstration held on Friday in Hassake

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled Talbisa and damaged the Umar bin Khattab mosque

The Syrian regime and opposition troops clashed in Deir Ba`lba while the Syrian regime heavily shelled the area.

The Syrian regime troops sprayed the neighborhood of al-Bayada in Homs, which is held by the opposition with some type of poison gas, according to medics who treated a civilian for poison inhalation. bombardment of the area. Tens of rockets fell on the neighbourhood in the past hour. Initial reports indicate human losses on both sides.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Heavy shelling of Jisr al-Shughour and heavy shelling of Kafranbel was reported. The opposition is unable to enter the citadel of Harem which Syrian troops are holding.

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Meanwhile, in Tartus, some claim the locals are enjoying their normal lives.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/world/middleeast/syrian-resort-town-is-stronghold-for-alawites.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&pagewanted=all&

International:
Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria to speak with Bashar al-Assad. Instead of flying into the country, he flew to Beirut and traveled overland to Syria due to fighting near Damascus airport.

According to NATO: Germany will deploy its [Patriot missile] batteries to Kahramanmaraş, the Netherlands will deploy its batteries in Adana, and the United States will deploy its batteries in Gaziantep.”
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/patriots-to-be-deployed-in-three-turkish-cities.aspx?pageID=238&nID=37498&NewsCatID=338

The OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) condemned threats by a militant Syrian opposition fighters against Syrian Christians in Mharda and Sqilibiyya (in Hama province) accused of hosting Syrian troops. Many residents have already fled these towns. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/muslim_group_slams_rebel_threats_against_syria_christians
_
On Syria’s militant Islamists by Aron Lund: http://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/syrie–les-islamistes-conquierent-la-rebellion_fr_art_1180_61574.html

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

21 Dec

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

Deathtoll: At least 100

Wednesday’s deathtoll: 170

Dr. Zaidun al-Zoabi (38) a dean of the European College in Syria, and a relative of the Syrian vice-president, his brother Sohaib (22) a student at the University of Damascus, and 5 colleagues who are part of the non-violent opposition movement were arrested in a cafe in Damascus on 15/12/2012. They are being held in the basements of the 215th branch.

Mohammad Shaar, Syria’s Minister of the Interior was injured in a bombing last week on December 12th, and was also wounded in the 12th of July bombing which killed 4 top figures in Assad’s inner circle). State news had claimed he wasn’t badly injured but he was flown to Beirut for treatment today at the American University in Beirut hospital. http://www.voanews.com/content/syrian-minister-al-shaar-in-beirut-hospital-after-damascus-attack/1568860.html

The Theater:

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Several rockets were launched onto the Karam al-Terab and al-Arad al-Hamra neighborhoods of Aleppo, killing 1 child. Violent clashes occurred in Hamadaniyya and near the air defense force battalion in al-Zahra’; the opposition launched rockets. The Syrian military shelled the Ansari al-Sharqi neighborhood killing 3 civilians. An explosion was reported in Aziza (held by the opposition) killing more than 33. The regime forces shelled the area after the explosion. Heavy fighting took place in the Old City as the FSA moved into Qasr Baladi and Bab Janin.

The Syrian regime forces retreated away from the defense factories in Safeera area. Before their retreat, they burnt cannons and weapons in the aftermath of clashes with the opposition.

Negotiations are ongoing for the release of imprisoned civilians held in the air intelligence division in exchange for 6 officers now detained in the scientific research division and the air defense battalion in the Shaykh Suleiman.

Free Syrian Army fighters said on Thursday they were preparing to take over the Mennag military airbase in Azaz, near the Turkish border. They thought that 300 to 600 Syrian soldiers might be inside the airbase where government helicopters are believed to be stationed.
3 children were killed by bombardment on the town of A’ndan at dawn.

Damascus province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

An attack took place on the pro-regime Popular Defense committees checkpoint in the al-Jazeera al-Thalitha area of Mushru’ Dummar. Clashes took place in Daf al-Shawk, Tadamun and al-Zahira.

Hundreds of people have been returning to Yarmouk after attacks and clashes there had driven them out, and carried out a vocal demonstration against being used as a front line in the war. Other reports simply said that several hundred “were permitted to go back” into the camp Key members of the pro-Assad PFLP-GC defected to the opposition during the fighting yesterday and Ahmad Jibril was said to have fled Yarmouk with his son for Tartus.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2012/1220/Palestinians-begin-returning-to-Yarmouk-refugee-camp-in-Syria-video

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=yarmouk+camp+damascus+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e0fc136705b9:0xb2e471ad896d9f06,Al+Yarmouk+Camp,+Damascus,+Syria&gl=us&ei=elTRUK6TCI6J0QHs0YHQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled `Ain Tarma, Beit Sahm, Daraya, Deir al-A’safeer, Duma, Harasta, Ma’adamiyat al-Sham, Madeera, Yabrud, Yalda and Zamalka. Shelling on Duma killed 1 civilian. Clashes resumed in Daraya and clashes took place between Mukhayam al-Rafidein and Duma.

The Free Syrian Army took control of a border crossing between Syria and Lebanon for the first time, at Rankous (26 miles north of Damascus).

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

11 civilians were killed in the province: a sniper killed 2 in the city of Dara`a. Regime forces killed 6 civilians including a child at a refugee camp in Dara`a. Regime forces shot at a car on the Busr al-Harir road killing 2 civilians. A man in Mahaja was found dead.

Deir az-Zur province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Opposition fighters took over the Seyouf roundabout in the city of Deir az-Zur.

In Deir az-Zur, the FSA is increasing its attacks on the military airbase, including shelling it from tanks.

Hassake province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The FSA ambushed a military convoy of 10 vehicles carrying arms from the air defense base near Houl. One report stated that 50 regime troops and shabiha were killed or injured.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

On Tuesday, I reported many gains by the opposition as it seized six towns and numerous checkpoints as the result of its new offensive in Hama province. Today it held those gains, and also took over Bsereen and destroyed a school used by the Syrian army as a base. Clashes took between regime forces, pro-regime shabiha and opposition fighters after the opposition attacked checkpoints near Zughba, Ma’an and other pro-regime villages. The FSA overran the Jisr checkpoint and destroyed an armored vehicle near Mawrak.

2 opposition fighters were killed. A woman was killed in the shelling on Halfaya. Unidentified armed men shot at a bus driving through the Hama countryside and killed a female college student.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The city of Homs has been besieged by the government for 196 days with many families trapped or unable to leave Old Homs, Deir Ba`lbah and the northern and southern suburbs of the city. Gunmen fired at an automobile killing a woman in the city of Homs.
Some unconfirmed reports say that the FSA has arrested an officer who ordered the massacre on the village of Houla, and that the FSA will put him on trial. Shelling on al-Houla today killed two boys. Shelling on the countryside outside al-Qseir killed two. Near the Lebanese border and the village of Jousiya, the bodies of a man, his wife and daughter were discovered.
Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes took place near the Wadi al-Deif encampment. Shelling took place on different areas in Ma`arat al-Nu`man and artillery targeting of the town of Taman’a.

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

In Hiffah, Latakia, Syrian government forces punching and cursing female detainees.

International:
Russia’s Vladimir Putin said that his country is more concerned with Syria’s fate than that of Bashar al-Assad and that it wants to avert an endless civil war. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/12/20/256172.html

The UN General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to rebuke Syria, Iran and North Korea for alleged human rights abuses.
With Syria’s conflict worsening by the day, a resolution condemning the Syrian government and its allied militias came as a diplomatic blow for President Bashar al-Assad.
The 193-state assembly passed the resolution slamming “grave” and “systematic” abuses with 135 votes in favour, 12 against – including Russia and China – and 36 abstentions.

The Assad government has been accused of detaining thousands of opponents, often in secret, torturing many. The government has refused to allow a UN human rights council investigation into the country.
The UN called for an end to all “violations” of human rights and for all sides to end the 21-month old conflict in which activists say more than 44,000 people have died.r

The UN Human Rights Council’s report covering Syria from September 28 to December 16, 2012 highlights sectarian violence and claims that Sunni “rebels” are increasingly fighting minority groups. (The story commenting on the report does not mention the opposition members who are not Sunni.) Foreign fighters in the country include Hizbullah, Iraqis and Iranians. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/2012122015525051365.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/12/20/le-conflit-syrien-est-ouvertement-intercommunautaire-selon-l-onu_1808796_3218.html

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

 

Syria Update, December 18, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

19 Dec

Syria Update, December 18, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: 120 including 41 civilians.

NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and 4 members of his network production team were freed from their captors by the al-Ahrar al-Sham battalion in Syria after a firefight at a checkpoint on Monday. They were taken prisoner on Thursday after crossing into Syria from Turkey according to NBC News. While NBC identified the kidnappers only as “unknown gunmen” the opposition said they were pro-regime fighters. The al-Ahrar al-Sham learned of the kidnapped journalists and that they were being held in the town of Ma’artamasreen. They searched the area but found no-one and then after a clash at a checkpoint to the west of this town, the armed kidnappers fled leaving a vehicle with the journalists in it. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/business/media/richard-engel-of-nbc-is-released-in-syria.html?_r=0

The massacre of Syrian Alawites appears to have been the hands of other Alawites – militia members. Or was it? Earlier reportage told of explosions following the killings. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/world/middleeast/alawite-massacre-in-syria.html?_r=0

The Theater:

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Damascus province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

On Tuesday, fighting continued in Yarmouk camp between opposition fighters and the PFLP-GC fighters. The Syrian regime’s air force bombed Yarmouk. Palestinian residents of the camp have been fleeing to Lebanon. Yesterday, shabiha warned residents of Taqadoum to flee as the government forces intend to storm the area. Sporadic clashes took place between opposition and the PFLP-GC pro-Assad militia in the al-Taqadoum neighborhood in the Yarmouk refugee camp. Explosions were heard in that area as well as in the neighboring Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood. For the past 2 days there has been large-scale migration out of the Yarmouk camp, with media claims that half of the camp has departed.
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=yarmouk+camp+damascus+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e0fc136705b9:0xb2e471ad896d9f06,Al+Yarmouk+Camp,+Damascus,+Syria&gl=us&ei=elTRUK6TCI6J0QHs0YHQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A young man was found dead in Tabala. Security forces arrested 6 men from Dara`a province (3 reported to be from Sura) in a raid on their house in Zahira.

The Syrian air force carried out several air raids on the city of Harasta and the town of Masraba Violent clashes were fought near the cities of A’rbeen and Zamalka and in the Thiyabiyya area. The regime forces shelled Beit Sahm, Daraya, al-Mleiha, Shab`a, and Yalda.
In clashes, regime forces killed an opposition fighter in the countryside of Harasta after midnight on Monday. The Syrian air force shelled A’rabiya, killing 3 men.
The Syrian military has been bombarding areas of the the Ghuta al-Sharqiyya.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military killed 1 person in shelling on the town of Naseeb around midnight Monday. 3 opposition fighters from Nahta and Inkhil towns, were killed in clashes with regime forces during a raid of a brigade in the Lijah area.

Deir az-Zur province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Heavy clashes occurred between regime forces and opposition fighters in the Jbeila neighborhood of Deir az-Zur. Fighters from several different opposition battalions are continuing their siege of the Deir az-Zur airport.

3 civilians were killed in the shelling of the village of Hseiniya late on Monday.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Heavy clashes took place between the opposition and the regime forces at various checkpoints in the northern countryside of Hama province. The regime forces retreated on Tuesday from checkpoints and their centers in Halfaya, Hasraya, Hayaleen, Kafarnabuda and al-Shaykh Hadid. The regime forces suffered casualties at the Ghurbal checkpoint, and also at those near the villages of Hayaleen, and Hamamiyat, while others were imprisoned by the opposition who seized military vehicles. 4 opposition fighters and at least 6 regime forces were killed.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled neighborhoods of the city of Homs today. The Syrian military shot dead 3 brothers whose bodies were found on their land in the village of Naqeera.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
Clashes took place between regime forces and opposition fighters near the Wadi al-Dayf encampment and the Syrian regime forces are shelling the towns and villages nearby. The regime forces shelled the town of Bansh, and a civilian died of his wounds. Another man died of wounds suffered in the shelling two days ago.

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
Two Russian nationals and an Italian –all employed by a steel works plant were abducted traveling on a road coming from Tartus. The abductors are demanding a ransom from the men’s employer.

International:
The spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, Elisabeth Byrs said that 2.5 million Syrians need food aid, but her agency can only reach 1.5 million of them. The World Health Organization said that severe malnutrition is being reported in Damascus and more women and children are being badly injured.

Russia has sent a tanker, an escort ship and two war ships to the Mediterranean Sea. This may be to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria (Interfax).
Iran’s Deputy Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian suggested that Iran does not believe that Bashar al-Assad’s government will soon fall. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iranian-minister-sees-no-change-in-russias-syria-stance.aspx?pageID=238&nID=37121&NewsCatID=359

The French foreign ministry spokesperson, Phillipe Laliot said that it supports the mission of the U.N. – Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi who must report back to the U.N. Security Council. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2282452&language=en

Lebanese are deeply divided on the Syrian conflict, especially in Tripoli
http://www.voanews.com/content/lebanese-take-sides-in-syrian-civil-war/1567647.html

Syria and Russia

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 alleged communists arrested 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

Jadaliyya’s Meta-Narrative of the “Crude” Syrian Revolution (Sherifa Zuhur)

18 Dec

On the “Arab Spring” so far, Jadaliyya has included coverage that portrays the revolutions as conspiracies, or too complex to portray as the true popular revolutions (that the Left long predicted, but has now disowned, since Islamism has been unleashed in their wake). Now Jadaliyya has also included some very good, non-journalistic opinion pieces, and some people whose work I admire, contribute and I am not trying to “diss” them. I don’t know who is funding Jadaliyya, or why, or what relationship it has with past projects such as MERIP, nor do I understand its “mission.”

Here’s Bassam Haddad’s recent article with that in mind (my comments are in red, and Caps –red only shows in certain browsers)

THE STARTING POINT IS WHERE HADDAD INSISTS THAT NO READER CAN UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION IN SYRIA. THE ENDING POINT IS THAT “THE REVOLUTION HAS FAILED.” YA LATIF! THE REVOLUTION IS BUT AN INFANT. AND “FAILED” ACCORDING TO WHOM? ACCORDING TO THAT PRIVILEGED SON AND NEPHEW OF FEIRUZ AND THE RAHBANI BROTHERS WHO REPRESENTED MODERNIZING, SECULARIZING LEBANON OF THE 1960S, PROCESSES OR MYTHOLOGIZED PROCESSES, WHICH HE, TO SOME DEGREE, MOCKED.

TEXT Do not try to simplify what is going on in Syria. You will fail.
We also cannot yield to complexity.
So many of the discussions on Syria—especially those occurring outside Syria—are simply detached from the tragedy, including perhaps my own writings. For instance, for the first time after 15 years of extensively researching Syria’s politics and society, with multiple and often long visits per year, I spent the last two years writing (and agonizing) about Syria without having the opportunity to visit, mainly because I am told I am not welcome there (my last visit was in January 2011, when, incidentally, I wrote this post on the Tunisian uprising).
HE CLAIMS EXPERTISE ON SYRIA ON THE BASIS OF 15 YEARS OF PRIOR RESEARCH. HE HAS WRITTEN ONE BOOK (2012) AND SEVERAL ARTICLES ON SYRIA, ALL APPARENTLY RELATED TO SYRIA’S BUSINESS COMMUNITY, BUT UNLESS THE BOOK DATES BACK TO A DISSERTATION, I DON’T KNOW IF THAT CONSTITUTES 15 YEARS OF RESEARCH, OR RATHER 15 YEARS OF BEING AN ACADEMIC. MOST ACADEMICS CARRY OUT RESEARCH FOR VERY LIMITED PERIODS, A FEW MONTHS, OR IN SHORT VISITS, SINCE MOST MUCH TEACH FULL-TIME. YET, HE ADMITS HE IS NOT IN SYRIA AND THEN LINKS TO A RECENT INSIDE-SYRIA EVENT AS BEING INTERPRETED OUTSIDE-SYRIA WHERE ALL VIEWS, ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE ARE EQUALLY INVALID.
A case in point is the recent bombing of the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus by regime jets. The outside debate/discussion is raging endlessly and insignificantly: is it an attack on Palestinians that demonstrates that they were merely a card in the past, or is it an attack on Jabhat al-Nusrah [really? is this what the uprising has come to?] (or other opposition groups) who infiltrated and must be rooted out at all costs? Or is it just another instance where the regime facilitates/conducts the bombing/ravaging of a Palestinian refugee camp as in Tall al-Za`tar? But wasn’t the regime the main defender and protector of various Palestinian resistance groups historically? . . . Etc. The narrative about the role of Palestine and Palestinians as produced in meta-narratives becomes the lens through which an incident or a collection thereof are viewed and interpreted. Everything else about that camp, its diversity, and its varied history is relegated to the background.
HADDAD WRONGLY IMPLIES THAT JABHAT AL-NUSRA ARE THE FIGHTERS IN THE YARMOUK CAMP. INTERNAL SOURCES HAVE REPORTED JN ELSEWHERE, IN ALEPPO, IDLIB AND HASSAKE PROVINCES. DO HADDAD AND THE UNNAMED SOURCES WITH WHOM HE IS CONVERSING/ARGUING BELIEVE THAT THE FSA IS SYNONOMOUS WITH JABHAT AL-NUSRA?
HADDAD FAILS TO MENTION THE PFLP-GC MILITIA FIGHTERS WHO SUPPORT ASSAD’S MILITARY FORCES. HE FAILS TO MENTION THE PALESTINIAN ANTI-ASSAD FIGHTERS FROM WITHIN YARMOUK CAMP. HE DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY CONTEXT FOR INTER-PALESTINIAN DISPUTES OVER THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT’S “PROTECTION.” HE IGNORES THE LOCAL REPORTAGE BY THE LCCS AND OTHER SYRIAN SOURCES ON THE GROUND BECAUSE HADDAD DOES NOT ACCEPT ANY “INSIDE” INFORMATION WHICH SUPPORTS THE REVOLUTION.
HIS GENERIC STATEMENT THAT “everything else about the camp is relegated to the background,” MAY BE TRUE OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT COGNIZANT OF PALESTINE’S OR SYRIA’S HISTORY. BUT MANY ARE MORE COGNIZANT OF THESE HISTORIES THAN HADDAD WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE. THE POLITICS OF YARMOUK CAMP, LIKE SYRIA’S POLICIES ON PALESTINIANS ARE FROM RESPONSIBLE, MORAL, NURTURING, JUST OR ADMIRABLE. SYRIA’S LEADERSHIP FACTIONALIZED THE PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT AND KIDNAPPED ARAFATISTS AND OTHERS, DETAINING AND TORTURING LARGE NUMBERS OF PALESTINIANS, SOME WITHIN A FEARED SPECIAL PALESTINIAN-CONTROLLED FACILITY IN DAMASCUS. PERHAPS THIS STATEMENT IS MERELY HADDAD’S CLAIM THAT HE KNOWS THIS CAMP’S BACKGROUND AND ITS MPORTANCE TO THE RESISTANCE AND THE SYRIAN REGIME’S “SUPPORT” OF (ELEMENTS OF) THE PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE, BUT NO-ONE ELSE DOES. AND THAT IS FALSE.
Right and Wrong for the Wrong Reasons
The claims put forth by myself and the myriad of other Syrian analysts, including the “instant” and “sudden” analysts who keep popping up like popcorn from the oddest places (I found two in my bathroom closet), (THE OTHERS ARE NOT EXPERTS, HADDAD, IS, BUT YES, WITHIN THE BLOGOSPHERE, SUCH IS THE CASE ON EVERY CONFLICT – HOWEVER IN ACADEMIA, SOME STANDARDS REMAIN, SADLY, A BIT COMPROMISED BY THE FACT THAT ACADEMICS HAD TO OBTAIN SYRIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVAL TO ENGAGE IN RESEARCH IN SYRIA) can be right or wrong, or conditionally so. But they might be on- or off-mark for the wrong reasons to the extent that one is divorced from the local context, and divorce comes in shades, from the cold calculating “methodist,” to the uninformed sympathizer, to gatekeepers of interests far removed from the well-being of Syria and Syrians. THEY ARE ALL WRONG BECAUSE THEY SUPPORT THE REVOLUTION WHICH IS SPONORED BY IMPERIALISM. Yet, they all participate and play with equal enthusiasm. Syria is a game now, played by states, institutions, analysts, activists, journalists, bloggers, tweeters, and artists who are often only remotely connected to the real lives of real people enduring real conditions there. GRANTED, SOME PEOPLE DISCUSS SYRIA WHO DON’T KNOW SYRA, BUT NEITHER IS HADDAD EXPLAINING ANYTHING ABOUT THE REAL LIVES OF REAL PEOPLE IN SYRIA WHETHER IN YARMOUK CAMP, AL-TADAMOUN, AL-GHOUTA AL-SHARQIYYA, NOR DOES HE MENTION THAT WHAT LOOKS LIKE A LARGE MAJORITY OF SYRIANS HAVE EITHER FLED OR SUPPORT THE REVOUTION. SEE THIS SAME POINT MADE REPEATEDLY BY THE ANGRY ARAB.
We produce snapshots of reality that are divorced from the cumulative history of pain and experience that have led to that reality. These snapshots become a reflection of observed people’s nature and eternal disposition not their circumstances, pragmatism, and dignity. We then monolithicize (THIS IS NOT, REPEAT, NOT A VERB. HADDAD APPEARED NOT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WORD “SOPHOMORIC” MEANS IN HIS SLAM ON ME, A WHILE BACK) and essentialize them, and coalesce them into a single body of thoughts, terms, narratives, and/or paradigms that have been conjured up by analysts and politicians from times gone by. We finish the article or our tweet, save, send, close, and turn away. We can do that. But those living in Syria do not have that luxury. THE VERY DEFINITION OF “NEWS” RATHER THAN OUR MEDITERRANEAN TRADITION OF JOURNALIST-AS-OPINION-SHAPER IS JUST THAT – GIVE A SNAP SHOT OF AN EVENT BY ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS OF “WHO,” “WHAT,” “WHEN” “WHERE” AND “WHY. HADDAD WILL NOT AGREE WITH ANYONE WHO PROVIDES A “WHY” STATEMENT CREDITING THE REVOLUTION, BECAUSE IT SEEMS THAT HE AND HIS PUBLICATION BELIEVE IT TO BE INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO BOGEYMEN ISLAMISTS, WHERE OR NOT THEY ARE “REAL SYRIANS.”
The Irrelevance of Meta-Narratives (A WORD NOW GREATLY ABUSED BY ACADEMICS TO MEAN “FALSE BELIEF.” A DECADE AGO, WE MIGHT READ “FRAMING,” “CONSTRUCTION,” OR FURTHER BACK, “WORLD-VIEW”/WELTENSHAAUNG.
Those living in Syria look at things differently. HADDAD ISN’T IN SYRIA. HE HASN’T DONE A SURVY OF SYRIAN OPINION, NOR DOES HE HAVE ACCESS TO ANY LARGER GROUPS OF FRIENDS OR CONTACTS THAN ANY OF HIS FELLOW-EXPERTS, INCLUDING MYSELF AND SOME OF YOU. IF HE DOES, HE PROVIDES NO SUBSTANTIATION OF THAT FACT, OTHER THAN THE ABOVEMENTIONED “15 YEARS OF RESEARCH.” When they are exposed to the terms of debate outside Syria, they smile helplessly, disappointingly, and critically all at once, as though those on both sides of the debate that is happening outside Syria are talking about an imaginary thing, not about realities on the ground. People outside Syria are literally at each other’s throats discursively and physically, ARE PEOPLE INSIDE SYRIA “NOT AT EACH OTHERS THROATS’ IN THE SENSE OF BEING INVOLVED IN PHYSICAL CLASHES, OR BEING SHOT AT, DETAINED OR TORTURED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS EVERY DAY arguing over the prioritization of resistance to imperialism or resistance to dictatorship while most local Syrians are wondering about personal security, food, electricity, the safety of their family, and the possibility of dying altogether during the next round of clashes in their neighborhood. IF MOST “REAL SYRIANS” ONLY CARED ABOUT DEATH AND SURVIVAL THEN WHY ARE WE SEEING A RESITANCE EVERYWHERE? WHY ARE WE SEEING DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST THE REGIME IN EVERY TOWN AND CITY WHERE THEY ARE POSSIBLE? In all conflicts, and war-zones, those present organize their days around survival. DID SUCH SIMILAR POPULATION CONCERNS WITH SURVIVAL PREVENT HADDAD AND HIS COLLEAGUES WHO OPPOSE THE SYRIAN REVOLUTION FROM HYPOTHESIZING ABOUT, “MONOLITHICIZING” (NO, I CANNOT USE THAT AWKWARD NON-WORD) RATHER, PROVIDING INSIGHT ON THE LEBANESE WAR? ACTUALLY HE IS TOO YOUNG AND HAS NOT WRITTEN ON THE LEBANESE WAR (SO FAR AS I CAN SEE) BUT HAS THAT PREVENTED HIM AND HIS CLIQUE FROM DRAWING CONCLUSIONS ABOUT IRAQIS IN IRAQ, AFGHANS, LIBYANS, OR EGYPTIANS? Most importantly from an analytical point of view, we erroneously assume that their preferences are stable, but they are not. They too change with circumstances, a perfectly rational behavior. HOW IS THIS AN INTELLIGENT STATEMENT? YES, OF COURSE, DUH, PEOPLE SWITCH THEIR STORIES, TWO “SYRIA EXPERTS” RECENTLY DID. BUT WHO IS DISCUSSING SYRIAN PREFERENCES? DOES HADDAD THINK SYRIANS SUPPORT THE REVOLUTION BUT ARE NOW OPPOSED TO IT? OR DOES HE MEAN THAT SOME WERE OPPOSED TO IT, (OR DUBIOUS ABOUT IT) BUT NOW FAVOR THE REVOLUTION?
Thanks to the armed groups who have now perfected—and sometimes surpassed on individual counts—the perennial brutality of the regime, one is hard-pressed in Syria to find a cause or a foreseeable scenario to cling to. Haddad contends that the violence by “armed groups” is equal to that of Hafez al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad? This is untenable. YES, ALL ACTIONS OF REVENGE AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS SHOULD BE AND ARE BEING CONDEMNED BY THE MILITARY LEADERSHP OF THE FSA, BUT A) ONE MUST COMPARE KILLINGS OF PERHAPS UNDER 100 PRISONERS, OR AT WORST, SEVERAL UNDRED PEOPLE TO AN ENORMOUSLY HIGHER DEATH TOLL, INFLICTED ON CIVILIANS AS WELL AS COMBATANTS BY THE REGIME, TO WHICH WE MUST ADD THE TOLL OF TORTURE, DETENTIONS, AND ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES. DOES IT NOT MATTER TO HADDAD THAT IT IS ASSAD’S BRUTALITY THAT IS “UNTENABLE Under such conditions, daily matters reign supreme over meta-narratives that are not necessarily unimportant, but have become thoroughly irrelevant for most Syrians. ONCE AGAIN, ON WHAT BASIS CAN HE TELL US WHAT IS OR IS NOT RELEVANT FOR “MOST SYRIANS?” THERE IS NO DATA TO SUPPORT THIS STATEMENT OTHER THAN A GENERAL ASSERTION THAT PEOPLE SUFFER DURING WAR SITUATIONS AND DON’T HAVE A CLEAR NOTION OF A WINNING “SIDE,” UNTIL SOME CRITICAL TURNING POINT IN A CONFLICT IS ANNOUNCED, OR EXPERIENCED. HE ALSO SUGGESTS THAT “MOST SYRIANS” DON’T CARE ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THE CONFLICT. THE UNTRUTH OF THAT STATEMENT HAS BEEN AMPLY ILLUSTRATED BY SYRIANS, EITHER PHYSICALLY BATTLING REGIME FORCES OR WHO ENGAGE IN PEACEFUL PROTESTS EVERY FRIDAY IF NOT MORE FREQUENTLY OVER THE LAST 20 MONTHS.
Hence, that smile WHAT SMILE? I SEE TEARS. that many local Syrians draw on their face in the face of meta-narratives spewed by all of us on the other side—to which people click “like,” or not. META-NARRATIVES IS CODE FOR “REVOLUTION”? AMAZING!
This physical detachment, however, does not automatically privilege the analysis of all insiders equitably. Some of the cruder analysis has come from inside Syria. This is an effort to claim that his analysis and expertise is superior to that coming out of Syria. TO HADDAD, THE “CRUDER ANALYSIS” IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE OPPOSITION. ACTUALLY, THE CRUDEST ANALYSIS HAS BEEN TRUMPETED BY THE SYRIAN NEWS AGENCY AND THE REGIME ON A DAILY BASIS. SO WHY DOESN’T HADDAD SPELL OUT WHICH “CRUDER ANALYSIS” HE MEANS? DOES “CRUDE” MEAN THE INTERPRETATION THAT THE FSA AND THE OTHER ARMED GROUPS HAVE BEEN GAINING GROUND SINCE EARLY SEPTEMBER OR ARE AT LEAST NOT SUFFERING A? BADLY AS THEY WERE ONE YEAR AGO? And though such analysis can be discarded as such, it cannot be dismissed as a real expression of real matters, DO “REAL MATTERS” PERHAPS MEAN “FACTS”? however flawed.
Those of us who have family, friends, and colleagues in Syria with whom we are in touch on a daily basis, and those of us who read Syria news coming out of everywhere and nowhere, know that the discussions inside Syria are far more visceral and real, BUT I THOUGHT HE JUST DECLARED THEM CRUDE AND THUS FALSE? ACTUALLY, HIGHLY VISCERAL DISCUSSIONS TAKE PLACE EVERY DAY “OUTSIDE” IN THE ANGRY ARAB’S (ABUKHALIL”S) THOUSANDS OF POSTS MOCKING THE SYRIAN REVOLUTIONARIES OR COMMENTING SOLELY ON EXTREMIST FIGHTERS IN THAT REVOLUTION WHO ARE OF COURSE DEPENDENT ON “SAUDI”/”QATARI” FUNDING MIXED IN WITH AUTHORIAL OR COMMENTERS’ SAUDI-BASHING. VISCERAL DISCUSSIONS ALSO TAKE PLACE AMONG EXILES TRYING TO ADVISE FAMILY MEMBERS INSIDE SYRIA, AND FROM FAMILY MEMBERS TRYING TO EXPLAIN THEIR IMMEDIATE NEEDS. where positions often reflect immediately consequential action, and where political trade-offs are not academic or theoretical: people die as a result of certain positions, political trade-offs can mean the difference between being able to provide for one’s family and not being able to put food on the table every night, or not being able to stay in one’s home that same night. THIS IS CODE TO SAY THAT MANY SYRIANS WERE COMPLICIT WITH THE REGIME AND FELT THEY HAD NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER, SINCE WITHIN THEIR OWN EXTENDED FAMILIES WERE GOVERNMENT INFORMERS. THAT DOES NOT PRE-EMPT FACTORINGIN PAST OR PRESENT COERCION BY THE REGIME.
The Triumph of Meta-Narratives
Yet, we continue to spar outside Syria. And we are winning unfortunately. The meta-narratives produced by various states, institutions, and individuals have become more important than what is happening in Syria. TO THE CONSPIRACY ANTI-IMPERIALIST THEORISTS, WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE OF ANY COUNTRY IS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTNANT THAN INTERNAL EVENTS OR PRESSURES. They have become more precious than the people on whose behalf we are presumably fighting. They have also emptied out the content of principle. NONSENSE! HADDAD IS SO MURKY AND UNLCEAR, BUT THIS SUGGESTS THAT FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM – AN ABTRACT PRINCIPLE – IS NOT ONGOING, IS NOT BEING REFERRED TO ON A DAILY BASIS BY SYRIANS. TELL THAT TO THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DETAINEES. Abstract principles—usually good otherwise—have triumphed over reality anew, while being disconnected from it. Syria is now produced wholesale mainly in the media, social media, and in the positions of grand powers that can purchase positions, enforce their narrative, or influence events, often by doing nothing.
This does not mean that there is no politics in all this. The biggest losers from the destruction of Syria are Syrians themselves, and what Syria could have been. PRAY TELL WHAT COULD THE GLORIOUS FAILED SYRIA OF THE BA`TH HAVE BEEN? WHAT WAS IT? IT WS NOTHING BUT A SECURITY-SERVICES MACHINE WHICH PERSONALLY ENRICHED A RULER, HIS CRONIES AND THOSE WHO COOPERATED WITH HIM. IS HADDAD SUGGESTING THAT SYRIA STOOD FOR THE EVENTUAL LIBERATION (VIA REVOLUTION) OF PALESTINE OR THE ARAB LEFT? IF SO, WHY DOESN’T HE SPELL THAT OUT This latter part is important because it is a window into who might be the biggest winners: conservative Arab state, the United States, and Israel, all of whom want to avoid the potential of Syria could have been. A frequent ploy of conspiracy theorists is to play the game of “who benefits?” Indeed, superpowers and regional powers will always attempt to take advantage of political shifts, but to pretend that Syria EVER would have achieved its potential (FAIR DISTRIBUTION OF GOODS, POLITICAL PLURALSIM, OR DEMOCRATIC AND HUMAN RIGHTS, OR FULL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN OR ANY OTHER MEASURE OF A STATE’S RESPONSIBILTIES IS ONE OF THE MOST RIDICULOUS STATEMENTS OF THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE Their (REFERRANT? DOES THIS MEAN ISRAEL AND THE U.S. – HOW DOES HADDAD KNOW WHAT ISRAEL OR THE U.S. WISHES TO SEE IN SYRIA? WHY DOES HE ATTEMPT TO IMPLICATE THE SYRIAN (AND EGYPTIAN) REVOLUTION BY PRETENDING IT IS A PLOT BY ISRAEL – IS THIS NOT THE TIME-HONORED METHOD OF DENOUNCING POLITICAL OR IDEOLOGICAL FOES IN THE ARAB WORLD? SEEMS HADDAD IS PRETTY DESPERATE NOW TO CAST THE REVOLUTION IN THE WORST –POSSIBLE LIGHT) preferred meta-narrative is winning inside Syria, but not yet in the region. This is the next battle, and it’s about resistance/imperialism, Islamist/secular, rich/poor, tyrant/opposition, patriarchy/feminism, but also about much more. One manifestation (HERE IS THE JADALIYYA META-NARRATIVE – THAT THE REVOLUTION IN EGYPT WAS/IS A CONSPIRACY BY THE U.S. AND ISRAL AND I HOPE PLENTY OF EGYPTIANS READ THIS SO THEY FULLY COMPREHEND THE CONTEMPT THE ARAB –LEFT AMONG PALESTINIAN, AND LEBANESE-AMERICANS FOR THEM, IF THEY HAVEN’T ALREADY HEARD ENOUGH OF IT EVER SINCE CAMP DAVID) has already started in Egypt. That larger battle is inevitably coming, and the fall of the Syrian regime, and the other dictatorships to the east that are shielded externally, will be just the beginning. It will take time.
In the meantime, in Ziad Rahbani’s words, sung in part by Joseph Saqr in the early 1970s:
“ya nour `inayyah, rohna dahiyyah . . .
dahiyyati-l-harakah al-thawriyyah
ya nour ‘inayyah”
No truly representative translation possible except, “we have become the victims of the revolution.” CITATION OF THESE LYRICS REALLY SAYS IT ALL. DRAWING ON THE SENSIBILITIES OF AN ATROPHIED AND STUNNED ARAB LEFT, AND IN THIS CASE LYRICS OF A PERSON WHO WAS NEVER PART OF A “REVOLUTION” (IT WAS HIS PARENTS’ GENERATION AND HIS PARENTS WERE BY NO MEANS AFFILIATED EITHER WITH THE LEFT-PALESTINIAN TEMPORARY ALLIANCE IN LEBANON DESPITE THEIR MANIPULATION OF RELATED SENTIMENTS IN SOME OF THEIR LYRICS AND SUBJECT IN SONGS AND MASRAHIYAAT) WHO CLAIMED TO BE THE ONLY “TRUE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE REVOLUTION” IN THE REGION, WHO REFUSE TO IDENTIFY THEIR COUNTERPARTS IN THE SYRIAN REVOLUTION AND WHO ARE TRYING, DESPERATELY TO NEGATE SYRIAN OWNERSHIP OVER AND AGENCY WITHIN THAT REVOLUTION.
INDEED, SUPPORTERS OF BASHAR AL-ASSAD WILL PROBABLY BECOME VICTIMS OF THE REVOLUTION AGAINST HIM. THOSE OPPOSED TO THE REVOLUTION AND IDENTIFIED WITH HIM, MAY BE AS WELL.. Listen here or below.
To be continued.

Syria Update, December 14, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

15 Dec

Syria Update, December 14, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

Early death toll: More than 90 killed including 33 civilians.

Thursday’s death toll: 192 killed.

The U.S. reaction to Syria’s use of SCUD missiles on its opposition seems to be that it’s terrible to use SCUDs on one’s own population, but so long as the weapons were not tipped with chemical weapons, there may not be any further response. http://e-ring.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/12/syrian_scud_missile_escalation_perplexes_us_stuns_white_house

A 17 year old tries to rescue a woman shot by a sniper. She dies anyway.
http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/12/13/damon-syria-heroic-measures.cnn

Demonstrators in many provinces of Syria protested the U.S. designation of al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group today. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/64669-syrian-protesters-slam-u-s-blacklisting-of-al-nusra-as-fighting-rocks-capital-north

http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/syrie-pour-les-manifestants-le-terroriste-c-est-assad-et-pas-al-nosra-14-12-2012-1581440_24.php

A convoy from Manchester & Wales brought ambulances and medical supplies to Syria (well worth watching) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2OkQpQvcyM

The Theater:

Aleppo province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The opposition has reportedly taken the Aleppo military academy.
http://www.ansa.it/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2012/12/14/Syria-rebels-seize-Aleppo-military-academy_7953348.html

The Syrian military resumed shelled of al-Sukkari, al-Halk, Salah al-Din, and al-Sakhour. Gunshots were reported at al-Lermon.

Clashes were ongoing between regime forces and the fighters of the Nusra Front near the defense factories close to the town of al-Sfeira. Clashes also continued near the al-Mushat infantry academy and there was shelling in that area.

The regime forces and the opposition engaged in clashes near the management college on the Aleppo-Damascus highway near al-Zarbeh killing 6 opposition fighters and 8 regular troops. The soldiers and officers guarding the college were captured. Yesterday the opposition took over the air-defense force’s battalion in Khanaser.

Damascus province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Today, the regime forces pounded the southern districts of Damascus in response to Thursday’s car bombs at army residences which killed 24 . http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2099208.html

Dr. Abdullah Qayruzm, member of Parliament died of wounds received in one of the car bombs that exploded near the Ministry of the Interior in Kafrsouseh reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian government forces resumed shelling on Asali, Barazeh, Hajar al-Aswad, al-Qadam, Tadamun, killing a man in Barazeh. 3 opposition fighters were killed fighting with pro-Assad Palestinian militia fighters in clashes that included Uruba street, the Falastin hospital, near the Khalsa building, Thalatheen street in Yarmouk camp, and parts of Hajar al-Aswad.
On Thursday, a car bomb killed 16 in the southwestern suburb of Qatana. Those killed included 7 children and some women.

The Syrian regime forces shelled Daraya and the Eastern Ghouta. Clashes were fought near Daraya and Mu’adamiyya.

Clashes took place in the towns of Aqraba , al-Hjeira and in Sa’sa’. The Syrian regime shelled the towns of al-Hjeira, Mesraba, Muqeilabiyya, Sayyida Zaynab, and Zakiya.

Dara`a province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regime’s forces carried out raid and arrests in al-Khat al-Shamali in Dara`a. The Syrian military’s shelling of Tseel at dawn today killed three men. The Syrian military also shelled Mzeirab, Tafas and Tal Shihab.

Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Na`ima and in Seida.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

One opposition fighter was killed in clashes in Deir az-Zur city.

Hama province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

The Syrian military shelled Aqeirbat, al-Latamna, Mas`oud, al-Na`ima and Qanbar.
Clashes broke out near the checkpoint close to the military grain depot to the east of Sooran, killing two opposition fighters. Then, the regime forces shelled Sooran and the nearby villages, killing 1 man.

Homs province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Clashes occurred in the morning near the presidential mosque in We’er in Homs.

The Syrian military forces shelled the city of al-Qseir killing one man and badly wounding others.
Idlib province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Syrians protested against the U.S. labeling of Nusra Front as a terrorist organization, chanting “Jabha al-Nusra is part of us!” They said the U.S. should have labeled Bashar al-Assad a terrorist instead. One said that he did know if, and it didn’t matter if the leader of Jabha Nusra is Jordanian, the members are Syrian. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/12/20121214164411696160.html

The Syrian regime forces bombarded al-Bara, Deir Sharqi, Freika, Jarjanaz, Kafr A’weid, Shalekh, and the countryside near Jusr al-Shughour.

The Syrian airforce carrying out heavy bombing raids over Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Clashes took place by the Wadi al-Deif military base.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

The Syrian air force shelled the town of Salma, and nearby villages in the Jabal al-Akrad.

International:
The U.S. plans to send 400 troops and 2 Patriot missile batteries to Turkey to help defend it against attacks by the Assad regime.
The Netherlands and Germany have already consented to send two Patriot missile batteries (each) and 360 Dutch and 400 German troops to Turkey.
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-us-will-send-400-troops-to-turkey-20121214,0,5108370.story

Syrian shells were fired into the Lebanese border towns of Menjed, al-Noura and Hekr Jenin. The International Crisis Group produced this report on the effect of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon. http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2012/mena/a-precarious-balancing-act-lebanon-and-the-syrian-conflict.aspx

The Russian deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdonov said on Thursday for the first time that an opposition victory cannot be ruled out and that there is a “trend” (ongoing) in which the Assad government is losing control of territory. After the US congratulated Russia for “waking up,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich insisted on Friday that Russia had not and will not change its position on Syria.
The NCC, the opposition group opposed to the National Council for the Syrian Revolution (and which the FSA regards as being pro-Assad) is in Moscow because Russia wants to use the NCC to negotiate with Assad. Their position is complicated and sometimes contradictory, and the opposition inside Syria do not trust them for various reasons, including the fact that they do not call for Assad to leave power. Haytham Manna, of the NCC said that the US should not support both a peace deal and the opposition since the two avenues contradict each other, whereas most Syrians would argue that they will accept whatever circumstances ends Assad’s rule, so long as he and those who support the regime, step down, leave the country and cease their killing of Syrian citizens. http://world.time.com/2012/12/14/russia-and-its-syrian-debacle-when-the-enemy-of-my-friend-becomes-my-friend/

The Arab League’s peace plan may go to the United Nations if Assad does not sign onto the plan. There is some frustration that Assad has held out for weeks after signaling some willingness to comply with the plan. Reuters later reported that Qatar had stated it had information that Assad would sign the plan. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/17/us-syria-idUSTRE7B90F520111217
Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html

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.