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