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.
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
A convoy from Manchester & Wales brought ambulances and medical supplies to Syria (well worth watching) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2OkQpQvcyM
The opposition has reportedly taken the Aleppo military academy.
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.
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.
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:
One opposition fighter was killed in clashes in Deir az-Zur city.
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.
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.
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.
The Syrian air force shelled the town of Salma, and nearby villages in the Jabal al-Akrad.
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.
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.