Archive | January, 2013

Syria Update, January 28, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern Studies by Sherifa Zuhur)

29 Jan

Syria Update, January 28, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s deathtoll: 128

Sunday’s deathtoll: More than 140 killed including 62 unarmed civilians.

President Bashar al-Assad claimed that his forces could win the conflict in two weeks if Turkey would stop assisting the opposition, arguing to a group of unidentified visitors (as reported in al-Akhbar) that it had failed to take full control of any of the 14 provinces.

In a meeting in Paris, French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius urged leaders of 50 nations to come through with promised aid for Syria or risk compromising the legitimacy of the opposition. The meeting was attended by 3 Syrian National Coalition vice-presidents. http://www.sify.com/news/paris-urges-funding-for-syrian-opposition-news-international-nb2majaidhj.html

Refugees: The latest update from OCHR (which does not have the very latest estimates of the displaced) http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/SYR_dashboard_130126.pdf

The Free Syrian Army clashed with the regime today in 119 locations.

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

A sniper killed a young man in Bustan al-Qasr today. Shelling and bombardment on Dahr al-Awad and Jusr al-Hajj killed five children on Sunday. Two men were found dead in the Qweik river on Sunday.

The Free Syrian Army targeted the airplanes which were bombing the city of Mengh.
Clashes took place in Safeira today.

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
Bomb squads were able to defuse a roadside bomb set to explode at a market in Bab Srijeh. A car bomb exploded in Tishreen. The opposition targeted a regime headquarters in al-Soumariyya. The Syrian governmental forces tried to raid the neighborhood of al-Qadam and shelled the area killing one today. 4 unidentified bodies were found in al-Qadam today. Activists say they were killed by Syrian governmental forces.

The FSA clashed with the Syrian government’s military at the Damascus International Airport and controlled Harran Awamid market located just next to the airport.

On 1/27/13, Adnan Tawfiq Al-Salama, from al-Bseireh in Deir Ezzor was killed by a sniper in Hajr Al-Aswad.

The Syrian military bombarded Douma and 3 unidentified bodies were found there today, and one of these had been decapitated. The Syrian military killed 10 opposition fighters today in the Damascus governorate.

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 bombarded the neighborhood of Nazihin of Dara`a killing a young man. Violent clashes occurred between regime forces and rebel fighters, at the Baladiya checkpoint in Dara`a al-Balad resulting in casualties . The Syrian military bombarded the town of Hrak and the town of Saida. Clashes took place in Hrak

The Syrian military shot a young man from Busra al-Sham and marks of torture were found on his body.

The Syrian military killed a little boy, Jihad Azwan today in Dara`a. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=526216390756081&set=a.371348842909504.101381.168189513225439&type=1&theater

The Syrian military bombarded the towns of Kharbat Ghazala and Busr al-Hareer and clashes took place in western Busr al-Hareer. A civilian, from the town of Jeeza was killed when when the Syrian military shot his car near the town of Na`ima. The Syrian military also bombarded the town of Shaykh Miskeen.

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

At dawn on Monday, the Syrian regular forces repelled an attack by the opposition at a check-point in Deir az-Zur. It was also reported by the opposition that the FSA freed the al-Siyasiya checkpoint, obtained weapons and ammunition and intensified their siege on the al-Siyasiya building [the political security branch] (here showing the al-Siyasiya barrier after it was taken http://youtu.be/cRH4DB94zTA)

During the 228th day of Syrian government bombardment of the city of Deir az-Zur, the air force hit the neighborhoods of Hawiqeh, Hamidiyeh, al-Jbeileh, (see artillery fire on al-Jbeileh here

Shaykh Yaseen, ar-Rushdiyeh, and the directorate of Agriculture and Hassan al-Taha street.

The Syrian regime forces shot a university teacher, from the tow in of Buleel in the Sina’a neighbourhood of the city of Deir az-Zur.

Syrian military security tortured to death Abdulkareem Al-Jameel; he had been detained on 15/3/2012 and was martyred

Due to intense shelling, most of the inhabitants of the villages of al-Shihabat and al-Jalamida have fled. There is no electricity or water in the villages along the road to al-Kasra.

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

In Hama, the Free Syrian Army targeted a military convoy heading to attack Karnaz, and the FSA killed more than 50 shabiha.

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

In Hasaka, the Free Syrian Army blew up the civil defense center which has been used as the regime forces’ headquarters. On Sunday, ten fighters from several opposition battalions were killed during clashes with regime forces at the Ghazal roundabout in the city of al-Hassake.

An explosion in Hassake province today: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-01/28/c_132134278.htm

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 bombarded the old neighborhoods of Homs with its warplanes. Regime forces had bombed the neighborhood of al-Khalidyya at midnight on Sunday into early Monday and clashes took place in that area as well as explosions.

This video was made available yesterday of the Syrian regular forces killing Mohammad Mahmud al-Ismael, originally from Al-Quria in Deir az-Zur when he attempted to defect in Homs on 15-1-2013

Three civilians were killed in Rastan and two men were tortured to death there by regime forces. The Syrian military bombarded al-Houla klling 4 civilians, including 3 children. Governmental forces shot two men in the village of Amiriyya. A man and a woman were killed by the Syrian air forces’ bombardment of the village of Bweida al-Sharqiya.

Regime forces bombarded the village of Abu Hori.

Homs lies almost completely ruined today, despite claims of being the center of resistance to Assad. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21228039

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 FSA targeted the Al-Yaakoubia barrier in idlib. The Syrian military’s bombardment of Ma`arat al-Nu`man killed 2 children today.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Salma today. In clashes with regime forces today, two opposition troops were killed in the town of Ya’qubiyya.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

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
.

International:

The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, M.P. Walid Jumblatt in Lebanon called on the Syrian Druze to support the rebellion against Assad and not to fight with the newly formed National Defense Army militias. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/lebanonnews/jumblatt_calls_on_syrian_druze_to_support_rebels

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that it is ready to aid the Syrian refugees in Jordan, following Jordan’s call for help to aid the increasing numbers of refugees in its country. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i70Bp2qmgwMX1jkq37Yb6oYo-LSg?docId=CNG.676e230ecc74e5893b0c73aefacdbf23.3e1

Israel moved two batteries of its Iron Dome missile defense system to the north of the country, in case of military action against Syria or Lebanon becomes necessary, according to AFP.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

In the summer and fall of 2012, there were 2 warnings that chemical weapons stockpiles were being moved within the country and one claim (by a U.S. official) that Syria has begun mixing sarin – the components are to be stored separately.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-would-assad-use-chemical-weapons

These claims prompted warnings from the United States, France and other nations including China. Russia and Syria denied that Syria would use its chemical arsenal.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

It should be noted that Syria also has a miniature neutron-source reactor at Deir al-Hajar near Damascus, built by China since 1991 and which went critical in 1996, and which now barely functions. It cannot produce fissile material and has been used for research and teaching purposes.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

Al-Kibar reactor:
Chronology (IISS, Nuclear Programs in the Middle East in the Shadow of Iran, p. 77).

1997 Syria–North Korea nuclear cooperation probably began, according to US April 2008 briefing
26 May 2001 Satellite imagery shows no construction at site near al-Kibar
5 Sep 2002 Satellite imagery shows beginning of construction at site
2002 North Korea allegedly seeks to procure reactor components for Syria
2006 North Korea allegedly transfers cargo to Syria, ‘probably’ for al-Kibar
6 Sep 2007 bombs facility
11 Sep 2007 North Korean official news agency makes first foreign protest of intrusion into Syrian airspace
13 Sep 2007 Unnamed US officials claim Washington had accumulated growing body of evidence that North Korea was cooperating with Syria in developing a nuclear facility
20 Sep 2007 Syrian Ba’ath Party head flies to North Korea; Syria later denies reports that purpose of visit was to coordinate a response
20 Sep 2007 US President Bush makes no comment on Israeli attack but warns North Korea that the transfer of nuclear information is as serious as the export of nuclear materials
3 Oct 2007 North Korea reaffirms commitment not to transfer nuclear technology, materials or know-how in an agreement at the Six-Party Talks
10 Oct 2007 Syria destroys rest of bombed reactor
Jan 2008 Overhead imagery shows new building at site, probably for cover-up purpose
24 Apr 2008 US releases briefing concerning al-Kibar reactor
29 Apr 2008 CIA director says reactor would have produced enough plutonium for 1–2 weapons a year

http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-dossiers/nuclear-programmes-in-the-middle-east-in-the-shadow-of-iran/read-the-dossier/

As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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. To this should be added the various militias – irregular forces paid by the Assad government, the new National Defense “anti-guerilla” militias, and unknown numbers of Palestinian pro-Assad fighters, Hizbullah operatives, Iranian and Iraqi forces.

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, January 22, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 Jan

Syria Update, January 22, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s early death toll: More than 60 including 23 civilians.

Monday’s death toll: More than 210 including 68 civilians

Seven civilians were killed in Homs on December 23rd, either by a “riot control” form of “poison gas” or by use of a chemical weapon depending on one’s definition of the still unknown substance. Some details by doctors conflicted with details in a secret cable concerning the use of this substance. The US State Dept issued the cable but also denied that chemical weapons were involved. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/22/secret_syria_chemical_weapons_cable_revealed

New footage has surfaced of the targeting of the University of Aleppo. This belies the claim that the damage was done by a car bomb and the FSA does not possess this type of weaponry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eka1FK_iJIU

President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has put together a new paramilitary force of men and women, some trained by Iranian personnel to fight what the regime calls a “guerilla war.” The new force has been named the National Defense Army and includes popular committee militia members who had been protecting pro-regime areas from the opposition. Most of the fighters are members of the Ba`th party; they include about 500 women, men and members of various religious sects. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jan-21/203174-syria-builds-paramilitary-force-aided-by-iran-activists.ashx#axzz2IkiEAJjF

The National Coordination body of the Syrian opposition proposed on Monday that the Assad government should admit responsibility for recent violence, in particular the shelling of the University of Aleppo which killed some 82 students. It proposed that both sides should cease violence; that political prisoners be released, that a transitional government be formed which should choose a new president, and that refugees be assisted to return to their homes.

Refugees: The IRC Refugees Commission report for January 2013 is here:

http://www.rescue.org/sites/default/files/resource-file/IRCReportMidEast20130114.pdf

At least 12,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan over the last six days.

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

A regime sniper killed 5 civilians near the Huzeifa bin al-Yaman mosque in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood of Aleppo. In clashes in Karm al-Jabal, one opposition fighter was killed. A mortar fell on a youth residence in Aleppo killing a young woman from Kafarkalbeen. An unidentified body bearing marks of torture was found near the Jisr al-Haj roundabout. Mortars were used in the shelling of a building in Salahaddin, killing one and injuring others.

Clashes occurred near the Managh military airport, where both sides reported losses. The opposition is pinning its hopes on taking over this airbase. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/22/world/syria-final-battle-for-north/?hpt=hp_bn2

The town of Khan al-Asal was bombarded, and clashes took place near the police academy and regime checkpoints.

The Syrian military used intense artillery shelling on Safeera yesterday and targeted a children’s nursery where displaced persons were housed, causing many injuries.

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
Tensions remain high in Yarmouk camp where clashes took place. The Syrian military shelled Douma, Daraya and Mu`adamiyyat al-Sham today, openly admitting in al-Watan that it is using air power on the opposition.
An explosion rocked the district of Dumar on Monday, resulting in casualties. Yesterday also saw continuous artillery shelling of Mu’adamiyah from the 14th division location.
A Youtube video of a young boy being tortured after being detained by Syrian military in the Masaken Barzeh area appeared.
The Syrian air force bombarded the town of Bala killing 8 civilians — 5 children, 2 women and a man. A car bomb exploded in the al-Sikka area of al-Sabina.
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

Here shabiha shoot at a van being used to transport wounded and killed from the side of the road. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKivFeS1Hhw&feature=youtu.be

Violent clashes are taking place between regime forces and opposition factions in the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood of Dara`a, whilst the regime forces are bombarding that area. A sniper killed a child in the town of Busr al-Harir and regime helicopters bombarded that town, also the town of al-Shajara and al-Tasil.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Yaduda using artillery yesterday, at least six mortar shells fell.

Activist Muhammad al-Masalmah was gunned down in Dara`a yesterday by a regime sniper. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47S0pg1JLCs&feature=youtu.be

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 Syrian military continued its bombardment of the neighbhorhoods of Deir az-Zor yesterday and today. Dawoud al-Khraykah Abu Sulaiman was killed yesterday.

The following footage from the countryside of Deir az-Zur province shows regime forces desecrating the bodies of opposition fighters.

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

1 civilian was killed in Hama province today.

A deadly blast in Salmiyya was attributed to a suicide bomber yesterday which was targeting a branch of the Popular Committees, a pro-regime militia, operating out of aan old carpet factory. 42 people were killed, approximately 30 members of the Popular committees and others were civilians.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21122618
The Syrian military resumed artillery and rocket shelling of Lattameneh yesterday from the Deir Mhardeh checkpoint. The Syrian military also shelled Kafarzeita, injuring many and used surface-to-air missiles from the Hama military airport onto various towns of the suburbs of Hama, yesterday.

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
Nine wounded opposition fighters arrived at the hospital of the Turkish border town, Ceylanpınar.
Heavy clashes in Ra’s al-`Ain (Serekaniyeh) continued for more than 4 hours; the opposition used 3 tanks and mortars against the Kurdish Defense Units. A mortar killed two children in the city on Monday. The assault on Ra’s al-`Ain began on January 16th and thus far, 56 [opposition] fighters have been killed.

Thirteen regular troops were killed in Hassakeh province yesterday.

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

For three days fierce clashes have taken place in Homs resulting in the deaths of at least 23 soldiers, with as many as 130 in total killed or wounded.

The Syrian military bombarded the Jobar and Sultaniya neighborhoods of Homs, as well as Kafru’id.

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 tank shelling of the town of Tamani’a has killed 2 civilians and injured 10. Violent clashes took place between regime forces and opposition troops to the south of Ma`arat al-Nu`man, along the Aleppo-Damascus highway.

The Syrian military bombardedKafarsanja and Babluwin, killing 2 children in Kafarsanja.
Intense artillery shelling from Foaa targeted Ram Hamdan, yesterday.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Three regular troops were killed by the opposition yesterday.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Intense fighting in Khan Arnaba was reported yesterday.

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

Yesterday 8 civilians were killed in the regime’s attack on al-Tabqah.

International:

Russia sent two planes to Beirut and evacuated as many as 150 Russian nationals from Syria today. It was announced that two more Russian planes would arrive later today in Lebanon. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/world/middleeast/russians-fleeing-syria-cross-into-lebanon.html?_r=0
Some 30,000 Russians are believed to live in Syria. Russia denied that it is planning a large-scale exodus. http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/01/22/syria-crisis-russia-idINDEE90L0D720130122
The United Nations’ Ban-Ki Moon has condemned outside parties for supplying arms to Syria. http://www.dw.de/un-leader-condemns-syria-arms-suppliers/a-16539436
Prince Sa`ud, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia says that a negotiated settlement of Syria’s crisis is now inconceivable given the scale of violence that has been unleashed on the Syrian people. http://www.arabnews.com/prince-saud-says-negotiated-syria-settlement-inconceivable
Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

In the summer and fall of 2012, there were 2 warnings that chemical weapons stockpiles were being moved within the country and one claim (by a U.S. official) that Syria has begun mixing sarin – the components are to be stored separately.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-would-assad-use-chemical-weapons

These claims prompted warnings from the United States, France and other nations including China. Russia and Syria denied that Syria would use its chemical arsenal.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

It should be noted that Syria also has a miniature neutron-source reactor at Deir al-Hajar near Damascus, built by China since 1991 and which went critical in 1996, and which now barely functions. It cannot produce fissile material and has been used for research and teaching purposes.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

Al-Kibar reactor:
Chronology (IISS, Nuclear Programs in the Middle East in the Shadow of Iran, p. 77).

1997 Syria–North Korea nuclear cooperation probably began, according to US April 2008 briefing
26 May 2001 Satellite imagery shows no construction at site near al-Kibar
5 Sep 2002 Satellite imagery shows beginning of construction at site
2002 North Korea allegedly seeks to procure reactor components for Syria
2006 North Korea allegedly transfers cargo to Syria, ‘probably’ for al-Kibar
6 Sep 2007 bombs facility
11 Sep 2007 North Korean official news agency makes first foreign protest of intrusion into Syrian airspace
13 Sep 2007 Unnamed US officials claim Washington had accumulated growing body of evidence that North Korea was cooperating with Syria in developing a nuclear facility
20 Sep 2007 Syrian Ba’ath Party head flies to North Korea; Syria later denies reports that purpose of visit was to coordinate a response
20 Sep 2007 US President Bush makes no comment on Israeli attack but warns North Korea that the transfer of nuclear information is as serious as the export of nuclear materials
3 Oct 2007 North Korea reaffirms commitment not to transfer nuclear technology, materials or know-how in an agreement at the Six-Party Talks
10 Oct 2007 Syria destroys rest of bombed reactor
Jan 2008 Overhead imagery shows new building at site, probably for cover-up purpose
24 Apr 2008 US releases briefing concerning al-Kibar reactor
29 Apr 2008 CIA director says reactor would have produced enough plutonium for 1–2 weapons a year

http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-dossiers/nuclear-programmes-in-the-middle-east-in-the-shadow-of-iran/read-the-dossier/

As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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. To this should be added the various militias – irregular forces paid by the Assad government, the new National Defense “anti-guerilla” militias, and unknown numbers of Palestinian pro-Assad fighters, Hizbullah operatives, Iranian and Iraqi forces.

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, January 13, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

19 Jan

Syria Update, January 19, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s early death toll: More than 120, including 54 civilians.

Friday’s death toll: 141 including 56 martyrs in Damascus; 41 in Aleppo, 19 in Idlib; 16 in Daraa; 5 in Hama; 2 in Dayr az-Zur, and 2 in Homs

Hizbullah and Iraqi Shi`i fighters’ recruitment video (aiding Assad forces in Syria).
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0118/Video-appears-to-show-Hezbollah-and-Iraqi-Shiites-fighting-in-Syria

Understatement of the day: a cyberwar is raging over the Syrian conflict. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130118/C4ISR01/301180018

Refugees: Human Rights Watch cautions Egypt not to return Syrian refugees to Syria. http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/18/egypt-don-t-force-palestinians-back-syria

A miserable situation for the more than 212,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caroline-gluck/a-refuge-from-syria-confl_b_2501293.html

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 FSA reported that it had captured the air defense base at Aleppo International Airport. 3 opposition fighters were killed in clashes near Managh military airport and in the Saif al-Dawlaw area. 3 civilians were killed by mortars falling on the Jisr al-Haj roundabout in Aleppo. 4 civilians, including 2 children were killed by rockets which hit Haydariyya and Dahr Awad. The Syrian military’s bombardment of al-Sfeira killed one child.

On Thursday, French journalist Yves Debay was killed by a sniper in Aleppo. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=551682634841822&set=a.458668167476603.111426.438082926201794&type=1&theater

On Monday, January 21st, some faculty and university students will observe a vigil for those killed at the University of Aleppo earlier this week.

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

6 civilians (all women) were killed by a rocket which hit wedding hall in the Rukn al-Din neighborhood. The Syrian regime forces shelled Hajar al-Aswad As many as 80 explosions were heard in Daraya on Saturday morning, following airstrikes by the Syrian military. Military reinforcements were seen heading to Daraya which the government has been attempting to recatppure.

The Syrian military employed fighter aircraft in 2 air raids on the Douma. Clashes took place in al-Mleiha as well as bombardment of that town. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Wadi Barada.

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 opposition and government forces clashed in the city of Dara`a, Busra al-Sham and Busr al-Harir killing 4 opposition fighters including a commander. The Syrian military resumed shelling of Busr al-Harir A sniper killed 2 men in Da’el and al-Hrak and mortar shells were fired on al-Hrak. The Syrian regime forces killed a man from Tafas in Jeleen. The Syrian military carried out a series of raids and arrests in Kafarshams.

Opposition fighters assassinated a member of the National Reconciliation Committee, Khaled al-Hilal, and 3 companions on the Sheheib-Tel Saqr road.
Soldiers at the checkpoint outside of al-Hara began firing and wounded civilians. The Syrian military forces carried out raids and arrests in Qerfa, and burnt homes there. A sniper in Da’el shot a nurse there.

Yesterday, Al Jazeera reporter Mohammad Hourani was killed in Dara`a by a regime-paid sniper.

A UN delegation set off from the Syrian capital, Damascus on Saturday for a visit to the southern city of Dara, led by John Ging, the Operations Director at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
They also intend to visit Homs, as well as rural areas of Damascus province.

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 Syrian military continued its heavy shelling of the neighborhoods of the city of Deir az-Zur today.

Abd al-Aziz al-Haroon was killed by the Syrian regime and here is a video of his funeral procession http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BXpq3oGroE&feature=youtu.be

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 bombarded Kafarzeita from the air, killing at least 3 civilians. The Syrian military also shelled the village of Senjar.

Here is footage from Kafarzeita:

The Syrian military also shelled the town of Latmin.

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 Syrian opposition and Kurdish Defense Unit fighters have engaged in clashes for two days in the city of Ra’s al-`Ain resulting in 33 casualties (28 opposition fighters and 5 KDU fighters). Clashes also took place in Karzero to the east of al-Rmeilan. 23 regular Syrian troops have defected from the battalion near that location in the last 48 hours.
The local branch of the Kurdish National Council called on the opposition to intervene in a (jihadist) assault in Ra’s al-`Ayn, saying that the offensive is targeting civilians and is “detrimental to the principles of the revolution.”
Here is footage of Syrian Kurdish civilians captured by opposition fighters in the city also known as Serekaniyeh, abusing and beating them.

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 today:

The Syrian military shelled the al-Khaldiya neighborhood of Homs today.

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 opposition destroyed at least one tank near the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The opposition has been trying for weeks to take control of the military bases at Hamdiyeh and Wadi Deif and are now trying to cut off the supply routes to these bases.

In Salqin, Syrian air force targeted a mosque and a school building where displaced Syrians were eating in Salqin. Dozens were killed and 30 wounded were taken to Turkey for treatment.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Taftanaz, and the towns of Babluween, al-Habeet and al-Teh.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Opposition fighters of the Liberation of Quneitira Battalion captured a Syrian regular mitliary officer and 4 soldiers after attacking their unit in the village al-Zebeida al-Gharbiya. Here they threaten to put them on trial according to “Islamic shari`ah” (although Islamic rules of war forbid ill-treatment of prisoners of war.)

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 air force bombarded the city of al-Tabqa killing 5 civilians, all from the same refugee family from Idlib, 3 were children, and their mother and grandmother were also killed.

The Syrian military and opposition clashed near the 17th division in the countryside of al-Raqqah and 2 opposition fighters were killed.

International:

U.S. Senator John McCain said that Washington could do more to back Syrian efforts to end the rule of Bashar al-Assad. He was leading a group of US senators in a trip to the region and his remarks preceded a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition and Revolution is meeting in Istanbul in an effort to form a Syrian transitional government. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/19/us-syria-crisis-opposition-idUSBRE90I0DZ20130119
UNICEF denounced the killings of civilians and particularly children over the last week in Syria. 3,538 children have been killed since the non-violent demonstrations against the Assad government were first met with regime violence in March of 2011.
The government of Croatia has recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the representative of the Syrian people. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2287787&language=en
The Stances of Some Syria “Scholars”

Najib Ghadbian

David Lesch
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/20/the_dictator_of_damascus

Fred Lawson and Amr al-Azm
http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201212130930

Amr al-Azm
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1166864.files/Middle%20Eastern%20Policy%202012%20%20The%20Syrian%20Uprising%207430%20Harvard%20University%20_1%20TXT_PDF%20PROOF_9.pdf

Joshua Landis
http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/syrian-uprising-2011-why-asad-regime-likely-survive-2013

Ray Hinnebusch
http://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/ia/archive/view/181599

Omar Dahi, Samer Abboud
http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/09/socio-economic-challenges/ei3y

Thomas Pierret
http://www.neareastquarterly.com/index.php/2012/03/20/the-role-of-the-mosque-in-the-syrian-revolution/

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm
http://traduccionsiria.blogspot.com/2012/12/entrevista-con-el-pensador-sadeq-jalal.html

Moshe Ma’oz

Mordechai Kedar, Tony Badran, Marina Ottoway (not a Syria expert)
http://www.themorningsidepost.com/2012/11/21/great-debate-intervention-in-syria/

Volker Perthes
http://mediacenter.dw.de/arabic/video/item/776491/

Omar Dahi
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/14/scholar_omar_dahi_on_the_economic

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/syria-s-opposition-must-cooperate-to-defeat-assad-by-volker-perthes

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/syria-s-opposition-must-cooperate-to-defeat-assad-by-volker-perthes

Aron Lund – has written a book on Syria, and a book on Libya – on Syrian jihadism here
http://www.ui.se/upl/files/77409.pdf

newer article

http://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/syrie–les-islamistes-conquierent-la-rebellion_fr_art_1180_61574.html

Peter Sluglett and James Dorsey
http://www2.channelnewsasia.com/perspectives/video/kofi-annans-resignation-and-the-syrian-crisis/

Sadeq al-Azm http://en.qantara.de/A-New-Spirit-of-Revolution/15850c39/index.html

Philip Khoury
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/qa-khoury-middle-east.html

Majid Rafizadeh
http://www.france24.com/en/20120831-syria-majid-rafizadeh-kidnap-family-targetted-civil-war-shabiha-opposition-bashar-assad

miriam cooke (she uses lower case for her name)
http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/01/09/1758500/dont-turn-away-from-syrias-agony.html

Syria Update, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies

15 Jan

Syria Update, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 119

Monday’s death toll: 150 including 82 civilians.

Other women’s accounts of the war and civil organizations are framed differently than this article (providing more evidence of activism) which outlines a mostly supportive role for women. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/role-of-syrian-women-evolves-as-war-rages-on/2013/01/09/5308512e-559b-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_story.html

A Jordanian salafist leader announced that Riyadh Hdeib, known as Abi Hamza, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra had been killed in Syrian army shelling of the village of Tafas in Dar`a. Abi Hamza was 32, a Jordanian national who used to teach at a private school in Amman and was an imam and a preacher there. He had fought in Iraq against U.S. forces.
http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/68435-al-nusra-front-mufti-killed-in-syria-s-daraa

Defections: Comments and news on defections by Syrian soldiers. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/13/1178636/-Defections-and-Murder-Syria-Assad#

Refugees: Syrian refugees in Kilis in Turkey will take part this month in elections to select representatives of their areas. http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/146446/syrians-set-for-ballot-in-turkish-refugee-camps.html

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

Opposition sources claim that the Syrian military shelled the University of Aleppo today causing 15 at first report (later reports say 45, and 52) deaths and many injuries. Others said a car bomb went off. State television, however, blamed the blasts on “terrorists” and a Syrian military official claimed that the opposition had been trying to down a Syrian air bomber, but missed and two rockets which hit the Information Technology Academy came from an opposition held area in Aleppo. Other reports indicate the area hit was in between the residences and the Architecture building.

An attack on al-Bab killed 8 people, including 4 women. Unknown persons assassinated 2 scientists working in Assad’s Institute of Military Technology. They were killed in the Saif al-Dawla neighborhood.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees are massing near the border fence into Turkey who lack identification papers. An activist reported that smugglers come at night to the border area, charging the refugees 1500 Syrian pounds for the crossing.

On Jan. 12th, more than 30 soldiers defected and joined the FSA.

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

Syrian government forces confiscated 40 tons of flour in the neighborhood of al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled and carried out an air strike on Mleiha, southeast of Damascus and clashes took place there. On the 12th of January, men loyal to Assad executed a Syrian brigadier general and 7 Syrian troops when they attempted to defect in Mleiha.
The Syrian military shelled Daraya causing casualties today. The Syrian military also carried out air strikes on Chabaa and Douma which are in the Eastern Ghouta, where FSA forces are located.
How is the crisis affecting the cost of living in Damascus. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/ballooning-cost-living-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

Syrian military shelling of al-Sanamayn results in casualties today. The Jabhat al-Nusra leader, Abi Hamza (see above) was killed by the Syrian military in Tafas.

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

Yesterday a sniper killed Ali Abdallah al-Jajaan in Muathafeen in the city of Deir az-Zur.

Clashes in Hawiqeh resulted in the death of Hamad Al-Thamer, of the FSA, a defected soldier in Deir az-Zur yesterday.

Also reported was the death of Khaled Al-Rajja in shelling on Deir az-Zur.

Yesterday marked the 215th day of bombardment on the city of Deir az-Zur. The regime forces shelled the College of Science: http://youtu.be/E195qd2ubCg
The regime shelled Muathafeen, al-Arfi, Hamidiyya (including thermobaric bombs here)

al-Jbeileh and Shaykh Yasin. Clashes took place in al-Jbeileh, Khassarat, Muathafeen and al-Omal.

The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Abed, al-Mireiyeh, and al-Husseiniyeh yesterday. The Syrian military completely destroyed the only spinning and weaving factory in Deir az-Zur and its warehouses burned yesterday http://youtu.be/3s5C_rGWydM

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

Clashes in the al-Nasr neighborhood of Hama killed one opposition fighter.

Syrian military bombardment of Halfaya, Kafarzeita and Latamna killed a male civilian and two women.

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

Regime forces killed 27 people in Haswiyya today, members of six families.

Regime air raids were carried out on Jobar and Sultanyya in the city of Homs. Parts of the city have been under siege for six months as the Syrian army tries to take back areas held by the opposition and storm into areas of Khaldiyya and Old Homs where clashes took place.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Talibsa for several hours.
Heavy governmental forces’ shelling of Rastan took place on Tuesday. Regime forces shelled Houla, killing 15 people, including at least five women and 2 children.
Casualties were also reported in Taldheb.

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 regime dropped cluster bombs on Kaynamas today. The Syrian military shelled the town of Sarmin, killing a male and female civilian and injuring others.

Footage from a field hospital in Sarmin:

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

Two Syrian regular troops were killed today in the eastern rural part of the province.

Yesterday, the regime forces shelled al-Tabqa using helicopters.

A regime airstrike killed the commander of al-Liwa al-Islam near the al-Thawra oil field, yesterday.

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

On Sunday night, eight opposition fighters from several different factions were killed in clashes in the province.

International:

A report on Syrian refugees who have fled to Giza, in greater Cairo. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2013/01/2013113205548993156.html

Where does U.N.-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stand now that his announced peace plan has been rejected, Syria has called him an “aging tourist” and the conflict continues in the country. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/15/brahimi_s_final_acts

The UNHCR provides information on Syrian registered refugees http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=107

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, January 12, 2013. institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur.

13 Jan

Syria Update, January 12, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 90 persons including 45 civilians

Friday’s death toll: At least 90 including 39 civilians.

Defections: Jumaa Faraj Jassem of section 30 of the General Intelligence Directorate defects from Assad’s government. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syrian_intelligence_official_says_he_has_defected

Refugees: The cold winter is impacting refugees’ lives and they express a sense of abandonment by the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZLjXAW4biM

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 Syrian military shelled al-Heidariyya and al-Jazmati today killig 4 civilians, including 2 children. Snipers killed 3 unidentified men in Bustan al-Basha. The bodies of 2 persons, were discovered in Khan al-Asal where one opposition fighter was killed. 3 opposition fighters were killed by regime forces in clashes near the 80th”and defense divisions of the Aleppo countryside and the Managh military airport. One opposition fighter was killed on the road to the Aleppo international airport.

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

Soldiers loyal to Bashar al-Assad killed 7 and wounded 10 at the checkpoint at 30th street in south Damascus between the Yarmouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad. A sniper killed Ghassan Shihabi, activist, director of al-Shajara Association for Palestinian Memory, publisher of many village books, founder of a cultural club and a library (that was shut down by the Syrian regime) in 2009. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=329263760522091&set=a.267629800018821.58374.265706396877828&type=1&theater

Syrian government troops captured much of Daraya today. They had been battling for weeks to take this area. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jan-12/201987-damascus-hit-by-clashes-after-key-rebel-gain-activists.ashx#axzz2HncF3SB8 In the clashes in Daraya, 2 opposition fighters were killed and 4 regular troops were killed in an IED explosion of an armed vehicle in Daraya.

Unidentified armed men have killed Syrian track athlete Hisham Al Raqsha while he was travelling in his car in Hosha Blas area of Damascus countryside. He came second in the 2010 West Asian games and was currently working as a trainer for the trekking team.

The Syrian military bombarded Beit Sahem, Daraya, Douma, and Jdaidat Artouz and Mleiha. In Mleiha 2 children, 1 civilian adult and 2 opposition fighters were killed in the shelling and in clashes. Clashes also took place west of Mu`adamiyya. Clashes took place near al-Yarmouk and the regime forces shelled the southern neighborhoods of Damascus today and the eastern Ghouta. The bodies of 6 unidentified persons were discovered today in Mu`adamaiyya and a child was killed when a rocket fell on his home in Mu`adamiyya.

A large car-bomb shook the Abu Aref area of Sabina. Syrian military shelling of Hteitat al-Harash killed 3 men. An opposition fighter was killed in Irbeen, where the Syrian military was shelling today.

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

Clashes took place in Busr al-Harir killing 4 opposition fighters. An IED explosion killed 1 civilian when it went off near his house in Edwan. The Syrian military shelled Busr al-Harir, Seida and Um al-Mayatheen today.

Several mortar shells fell on the towns of Da’el, Oum al-Mayathin and al-Tiba in the countryside of Dara`a province.

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 Syrian air force continued its bombarding of the city of Deir az-Zur. Heavy clashes took place in the Huweiqa neighborhood. Shellling on al-Arfi killed one man. And another man was killed in the regime shelling of Huweiqa.

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

Clashes occurred on the southern side of Taybat al-Imam which together with regime shelling killed 2 men and a third died of his wounds in a previous shelling. Gunmen in the village of Oum Hartin killed 4 children and a woman. A man from al-Arb’in in Hama was tortured to death by regime forces. One opposition fighter was killed in the countryside of Hama.

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

Yesterday, an opposition fighter shot a young man from Ras al-`Ain in the al-Mahata neighborhood after a verbal exchange.

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
he Kaldiya neighbourhood was bombarded by regime forces, THe al-Rastan city of Reef Homs was aerially bombarded by regular forces, several were killed and injured. Fighter helicopters hovered over the Homs city.

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

Opposition fighters finally seized the Taftanaz military airport yesterday. In clashes there yesterday, 4 opposition fighters were killed.

The Syrian regime forces shelled the town of Khan Sheikhoun

Yesterday, regime forces shelling of Kafrouma killed a woman.

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

A rocket fell on the al-Areed road in al-Tabqah wounding several people and killing 4 civilians.

International:

Fifty countries call for the UN to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/urged-refer-syria-war-crimes-court-18195903

Qatar renews a call for an Arab force in Syria if special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s efforts at peace-making fail. http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/221631-qatar-renews-call-for-arab-force-in-syria.html

The U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi expressed the urgent need to end the Syrian conflict on Friday in Geneva following five hours of meetings with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

Should the Syrian National Coalition take over Syria’s seats at the United Nations and the Arab League? http://www.rappler.com/world/19572-opposition-eyes-syria-seat-at-un,-arab-league

The Syrian-Iranian Alliance

History and background of Syria’s alliance with Iran.
“Iran Primer” By Jubin Goodarzi for USIP. http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/iran-and-syria

Revolutionary Guards were in Syria
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/concoughlin/100109105/iran-embarrassed-by-revolutionary-guard-death-in-syria/

Why Iran supports Syria?
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/08/world/syria-iran-analysis/index.html

More support for Syria.
http://sofrep.com/11154/foreign-intervention-in-syria/

On January 9, 2013, forty-eight Iranians were freed by the Syrian opposition in exchange for 2,130 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government (which included the Brides of Syria [also known as the “free brides”]) who arrived in central Damascus on Wednesday. The Turkish aid group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it had been a leader in the negotiations.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/09/uk-syria-crisis-prisoners-iran-idUKBRE9080D620130109

Iran cozies up to al-Azhar in Cairo, but Egypt and Iran remain divided on Syria.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/10/us-egypt-iran-idUSBRE9090VZ20130110

Another aspect of Iran and Syria’s relationship is Iran’s support of Hizbullah. Syria has also supported Hizbullah, hosts an office.
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20101013_syria_hezbollah_iran_alliance_flux

Iran will adapt if Syria is lost.

“Iran’s Syrian End-game”
http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/08/17/irans-syrian-endgame

Syria Update, January 9, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

10 Jan

Syria Update, January 7, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 62

Tuesday’s deathtoll: 130

Here are the detainees’ families waiting for their release today in the prisoner exchange at Khalid bin Walid Street https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=419084548160541&set=a.347965191939144.74748.343172915751705&type=1&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

Rockets hit the Jub al-Qubbah neighborhood of Aleppo, killing 3 men. Footage from the Jub al-Qubbah neighbourhood:

Snipers killed 2 mentally disabled civilians today in Aleppo. Clashes occurred between several opposition factions in al-Mashhad. Rockets fired on al-Ma`adi killed 2 civilians, and shelling injured others in Kallasa and Bustan al-Qasr. A sniper killed 1 civilian near the al-Qasr al-Baladi building.

Heavy fighting was also reported near the military airports of Nayrab, Kwiyres, and Managh in Aleppo province. Clashes took place in the Dweirina area, also hit by rockets.

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 large car-bomb exploded in the city of Mou’adamiya. First reports indicated that at least 10 people were killed.

Here, Syrian regular troops torture an opposition fighter in one of the southern neighborhoods of Damascus:

Unknown gunmen assassinated Hatem Deeb, a lawyer, in his office in the A’in al-Karsh area on Tuesday night.

The bodies of 2 members of the Palestinian Hamas Resistance movement were found near the A’isha mosque in the al-Hseiniya camp. They had been summarily executed by Syrian regime forces after detainment

The Syrian military shelled Jaramana, and killed 2 in that city today. A sniper shot one person from al-Mleiha and clashes re-occurred in al-Mleiha near the air defense dvision. Violent clashes continued near the towns of A’qraba and Beit Sahem between regular forces and opposition fighters, along with Syrian military bombardment of the area. Clashes took place near the Idaret al-Markabat building between Harasta and A’rbin. The Syrian regular forces bombarded fields around Daraya and engaged in clashes with opposition fighters in the area. Shots were heard at dawn in 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 military shelled the town of al-Shaykh Miskeen, killing 1 child and injuring several civilians. The Syrian military continued its shelling of the town of Busr al-Harir, today. Violent clashes took place at the entrances to Busr al-Harir between opposition fighters and regular force who have been attempting to storm the town for days now.

A child died of wounds received yesterday in the shelling of Inkhel.

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 Syrian regime forces shelled the city of Deir az-Zur for the 210th day today, bombarding the al-Arfi, al-Haweeqeh, al-Hmeidiya, al-Jbeileh, al-Omal and al-Rushdieh neighborhoods.

The effects of the bombing on al-Rushdieh

Smoke in the neighborhood of Jbeileh 01/09/2013

The effects of the bombing on the neighborhood of Hamidiya

al-Roushdieh 01/09/2013

The effects of the bombing on Al Omal 09/01/2013

Those killed today included: Mohamed Mounir Bernh, from al-Jorah, Deir al-Zur. He was wounded in al-Hamidyeh, and moved to al-Mayadeen where he died.

Ahmad Khalid Al Homsi, who was captured by Assad’s forces ten months ago and was tortured to death today

Tammam Ragheb, a member of the Saraya al-Nasr battalion of the Free Syrian Army, who was killed in the shelling on al-Haweeqah.

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

Syrian regular troops shot an opposition fighter in Tariq Halab in Hama and he bled to death. The Syrian military shelled Taybet al-Imam today. Clashes took place between opposition fighters and regular forces near the al-Samman military checkpoint in Taybat al-Imam town after midnight last night, apparently causing injuries on both sides.

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

An opposition fighter was killed during clashes with regular forces in al-Hassake province. Yesterday, 4 regular troops were killed 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

Video of the aftermath of bombing in Hamadiyya in Homs

The Syrian military shelled al-Hola today, concentrating on the town of Kaflaha.

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

Opposition fighters of al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham seized parts of Taftanaz military airport today, destroying some helicopter gunships. The Syrian Army bombarded the airport’s grounds and nearby villages using tanks and air strikes, trying to flush out the opposition forces. (These clashes have been ongoing since December of 2012.) In the morning the opposition used anti-aircraft guns and stormed the airport’s fence.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Bansh, killing a man, and also shelled the village of Qmeinas.

The Syrian regime’s military forces executed 33 civilians, including 3 women and possibly 3 opposition fighters in the area of al-Mastouma yesterday, after opposition fighters retreated from the area.

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

Cotton storage facilities were set on fire yesterday near Ein Issa where clashes took place the day before.

International:

Forty-eight Iranians were freed by the Syrian opposition in exchange for 2,130 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government (which included the Brides of Syria) who arrived in central Damascus on Wednesday the Turkish aid group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it had been a leader in the negotiations.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/09/uk-syria-crisis-prisoners-iran-idUKBRE9080D620130109

Britain is hosting a two-day meeting on Syria starting today which brings together academics and the opposition to prepare for a post- Assad Syria.

 Experts in post-conflict stabilization are participating. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20954520

Russian and US diplomats will meet with Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva on Friday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency, citing the Russian deputy foreign minister. The two countries held trilateral meetings with Brahimi last month.

Brahimi regrets a lost opportunity to settles Syria’s crisis
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-20959332

The Syrian-Iranian Alliance

“Iran Primer” By Jubin Goodarzi for USIP. http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/iran-and-syria

Since 1979, the alliance between Syria and Iran has had significant impact in both shaping Middle East politics and thwarting the regional goals of the United States, Israel and Iraq.
Syria and Iran are the two parties most responsible for spoiling U.S.-backed peace efforts between the Arabs and Israel in order to promote their own Arab and Islamic interests. For the United States, they were also the most troublesome countries during the U.S. intervention in Iraq because they aided, abetted or armed insurgents.
The two regimes share common traits. They are both authoritarian and defiantly independent, even at a political or economic cost. Iran is predominantly Shiite. Although Syria is predominantly Sunni Muslim, its ruling family is Alawite, a Shiite sect.
At the same time, they are odd political bedfellows. Syria’s Baa’thist ideology is strictly secular and socialist. Iran’s ideology is rigidly religious and, in principle, opposed to atheist communism and its offshoots. Yet their common strategic goals have held the alliance together for three decades, despite repeated attempts to rend them apart.

Overview
The Iran-Syria alliance grew out of common cause—and common enemies. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, the two regional powerhouses have pooled political leverage and military resources to enhance their position, build a network of surrogate militias and frustrate the plans of opponents. Together they ensured Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which bordered both countries, would not become the predominant regional power. They forced U.S. peacekeepers out of Lebanon in 1984, and thwarted Israel’s effort to bring Lebanon into its orbit during an 18-year occupation that finally ended in Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2000. The odd bedfellows together sired or supported Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and an array of radical Palestinian groups. All reject peace. And together they have inflicted repeated setbacks on six American presidents.

The alliance also reflects a common need. Together the regimes stand a better chance at survival—without having to accommodate either domestic or foreign demands for change—than they would without each other. Together they also stand a better chance of achieving their long-term goals. Syria wants to regain the strategic Golan Heights, lost to Israel in the 1967 War, and keep its veto power over Lebanese politics. Iran wants to be the preeminent regional player in the Persian Gulf and ensure its allies rule in Iraq. Both also want to protect Arab interests (in the case of Damascus) and Islamic interests (in the case of Iran) throughout the region.

The six phases

Relations between Iran and Syria have has gone through six distinct phases.
Phase 1: The new alliance 1979-1982
Syria was the first Arab country to recognize the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan after the shah’s ouster, and third overall, after the Soviet Union and Pakistan. Damascus provided invaluable diplomatic and military support to Tehran after Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran. The alliance was formalized in March 1982 when a high-level Syrian delegation, headed by then Foreign Minister Abd al-Halim Khaddam visited Tehran and concluded a series of bilateral agreements on oil and trade, and a secret pact on military matters.

Phase 2: The zenith of Syrian-Iranian power 1982-1985
The high point of bilateral cooperation was in the Levant. After Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and rout of Syrian forces there, Syrian President Hafez Assad enlisted Iran’s influence among the Lebanese Shiites to wage a campaign of subversion, terror and guerrilla warfare against their mutual opponents in Lebanon —the Christian-dominated government, Israeli occupation forces and the U.S. and French peacekeeping forces. Together they orchestrated a series of devastating blows: President Bashir Gemayel was assassinated in September 1982. Israeli military headquarters in Tyre were bombed in November 1982. The first modern Muslim suicide bombers hit the U.S. Embassy in west Beirut in April 1983. The barracks of U.S. Marine and French contingents of the Multinational Force were bombed within minutes of each other in October 1983. Israeli headquarters in south Lebanon were again bombed in November 1983. And a second U.S. Embassy was bombed in east Beirut in September 1984. Unable to fulfil its mission, U.S. forces withdrew in early 1984. The 1983 Israeli-Lebanese peace treaty was scrapped. And Israel began a partial withdrawal of its troops from most of the territory it initially seized in 1985.

Phase 3: Alliance tensions and consolidation of the axis 1985-1988
The late 1980s marked the most problematic phase of the Syria-Iran partnership. The Lebanese civil war and the Iran-Iraq War drained their resources and undermined the clout of the Damascus-Tehran nexus. Iran and Syria also developed conflicting agendas in Lebanon, particularly in picking their Shiite allies. Syria backed Amal, the political party and militia that was the longstanding representative of Lebanon’s Shiites. Damascus backed a secular and multi-confessional state that fell within its sphere of influence. Iran backed Hezbollah, the underground extremist movement. Iran favored greater power for Lebanon’s Muslim majority, particularly Shiites, the largest of the country’s 17 recognized sects.

Their rival visions played out on the ground. The Syrians backed the Amal-led siege of Palestinian refugee camps between 1985 and 1987, much to Iran’s dismay. Iran tried to mediate a peaceful end to the confrontation. Tehran and Damascus eventually reached an understanding on key issues: Syrian interests took precedence in the Levant, while Damascus would defer to Tehran in the Gulf.

Phase 4: Containment of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq 1988-1991
Cooperation focused on checking Iraqi power and crushing President Michel Aoun’s anti-Syrian revolt in Lebanon in 1988-1989. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War against Iraq, Syria contributed troops to the U.S.-led coalition and Iran remained neutral. Damascus hoped to reap the benefits of having its agenda included in subsequent Middle East peace efforts, while Iran did not try to check the growing U.S. military presence, in hopes it would ultimately weaken Baghdad’s power in the region.

Phase 5: Alliance cooperation in the post-Cold War period 1991-2003
As the Cold War ended and the United States became the world’s dominant power, Tehran and Damascus grew increasingly important to each other. They cooperated in development of ballistic missiles. They collaborated in arming and abetting Hezbollah and Hamas to pressure Israel, as well as to influence events in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Their aid was instrumental in enabling Hezbollah to wage a guerrilla campaign throughout the 1990s against Israel, which opted to withdraw in 2000.

Both Syria and Iran flirted with the United States during this phase. Damascus participated in sporadic U.S. peace efforts. And under reformist President Mohammed Khatami in the late 1990s, Tehran proposed bringing down the “wall of mistrust.” But neither effort produced any progress.

Phase 6: Reinvigoration of the alliance after the 2003 Iraq war
Cooperation between Iran and Syria increased markedly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both countries welcomed the ouster of Saddam Hussein, their mutual foe. But the speed of the U.S. military victory also initially raised fears that either Iran or Syria might be the next target in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.” Both provided significant aid to an array of domestic and foreign forces in Iraq, challenging the U.S. military and the new government in Baghdad.

Their roles in Iraq evolved, especially after the Obama administration announced plans to withdraw. Tehran cultivated ties with major Iraqi political parties and militias, particularly the Shiites, to ensure Baghdad would not again become hostile. And Damascus sporadically limited the flow of insurgents across its border. Neither country wanted Iraq to plunge into anarchy or civil war. But nor did either want U.S. allies in political control of Baghdad.

The balance of power
The balance of power in the Syrian-Iranian alliance has shifted since 1979. Syria was the dominant partner in the 1980s. Iran is the stronger partner today.
From 1976 to 2005, Syria was the more dominant player in Lebanon due to its military presence. But its leverage weakened after Damascus was forced to pull out troops in 2005. Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party and militia, has since become the most influential ally in Lebanese politics. During the 1980s, Syria’s regional role was also magnified when Egypt was banished from the Arab fold after the 1979 Camp David Accords. And both Iraq and Iran were weakened by their costly eight-year conflict. Syria enjoyed the political, military and economic patronage of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.

The balance of power between the two shifted in part because of arms. Syria was a conduit for arms shipments to Iran during the Iran-Iraq conflict. This was particularly important after Iran’s relations with Moscow deteriorated in 1982 and Washington orchestrated a widespread arms embargo in 1983. Iran responded by developing its own arms industry in the 1980s, and the 1990s it had the lead role in joint efforts with Syria to develop ballistic missile capabilities. Iran now exports arms to Syria and helps finance Syrian arms purchases from Russia, Belarus, North Korea and elsewhere.

Iran needed the alliance with Syria during the 1980s to prevent becoming isolated in the Middle East. But after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Iran mended fences with many Arab countries. Despite its uneasy relations with key Arab governments, Iran is more popular on the Arab street. Its position has been enhanced by its posturing on the nuclear issue, relatively high oil prices, and the backlash against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An enduring marriage
The Syria-Iran alliance has survived in part because it has been primarily defensive in nature. For three decades, it has been aimed largely at neutralizing Iraqi and Israeli capabilities and preventing American encroachment in the Middle East. Defensive alliances which have fixed and limited objectives are often more durable.

Their distinctive ideological differences, ironically, have also helped the relationship endure. Syria and Iraq were intense political rivals, and often came close to military blows, because they shared the same Baa’thist ideology. The political elites in Tehran and Damascus were never competing.

Their respective agendas also have jived: Iran has vied for leadership of the Islamist bloc in the Middle East and beyond, a role in which secular Syria has no interest. Syria has long sought to be “the beating heart of Arabism,” a role in which Iran, a non-Arab country, has no interest. Except for a brief period of rival ambitions in Lebanon, the two countries have never been in competition—ideologically, economically or militarily. Neither has tried to upstage the other.

The future
Despite multiple attempts to wean Syria from Iran, the alliance between Tehran and Damascus remains strong. It would take a major catalyst—such as progress in the Arab-Israeli peace process that addresses Syria’s demands—to seriously undermine their cooperation.
In part by default, Iran and Syria still have strong influence in the region for several reasons: Their militia allies have become major political players, particularly in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Mideast peace efforts have not produced major new pacts since the mid-1990s. And U.S. attention has been focused elsewhere.

“Iran’s Syrian End-game”
http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/08/17/irans-syrian-endgame/

Syria Update, January 7, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

8 Jan

Syria Update, January 7, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Monday’s early death toll: 70 including 41 unarmed civilians.

Sunday’s death toll: At least 90.

Syrians dismiss Assad’s speech of Sunday January 6, 2012 as fighting continues all over the country.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20130107

According to FSA commander, Salim Idris, the opposition has organized a chemical weapons unit to secure such materials. (AJ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw2wOHdfzvg

The Nusra Front executed 3 Syrian troops captured several days earlier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDg_NJfTkOY

Refugees

Children dig air raid shelters and scavenge for food.
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/06/world/meast/syria-children/index.html

The harshness of Syria’s refugee camps. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/inside-syrias-refugee-camps-a-harrowing-tale-of-fire-and-ice#full

Casualties collected by SOHR:

36332 Syrian citizens were killed during 2012 with an average of 101 citizens every day and 4 citizens every hour. (The figure of 60,000 given by the U.N. The SOHR had estimated more than 46,000. It is impossible for the Local Coordination Committees to obtain details of all deaths, but they provide the information they receive throughout each day.)

The total number of victims for 2012 includes:

3327 children
3194 women
957 dead from torture
1941 Free Syrian Army members, mostly civilians who have joined the FSA
467 elderly persons of more than years

In the following link, a complete list of victims (36332 without any replication) accumulated by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) along with the date of death, place, photos and videos is accessible on the SNHR server:
http://www.syrianhr.org/reports/All_2012_Updated.pdf

Some excerpts from Assad’s speech from yesterday.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/06/syria-crisis-speech-idUSL5E9C614K20130106

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
A sniper shot one civilian in the neighborhood of al-Halk. The shelling of al-Mashhad killed 12 civilians including a child. The Syrian military also shelled al-Firdows. A sniper killed a man in Bustan al-Qasr

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

The Syrian military’s artillery fired at Aqraba, only about 3 miles from the Opera House, where Assad gave his speech yesterday. A sniper shot one civilian in al-Barzeh and 2 civilians from al-Yarmouk died, both from wounds received earlier in gunfire at a checkpoint, although one was wounded 2 months earlier and the other, 2 weeks earlier. The Syrian military heavily shelled Asali, Hajar al-Aswad, Madniya, and Tadamoun. Two bodies were found in Qadam.

Clashes occurred near the Idarat al-Markabat building between Harasta and Arbeen. The Syrian military shelled Arbeen, Douma, Mu`adamiyya and Harasta. Syrian military troops shot a woman from Saqba on the Homs-Damascus road. The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests of civilians of al-Mkeiha. Clashes took place in the town of Drosha.

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 shelled Busr al-Harir (this has been ongoing for days). Several shells also fell on Nahta and al-Hrak. A defected soldier was killed in al-Jiza in clashes with the Syrian military.

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 Syrian military detained a man in Deir az-Zur and tortured him to death. The Syrian military’s regular forces shelled the neighborhood of al-Hmeidiyya. Clashes took place in the neighborhood of al-Hweiqa. The Syrian military regular forces bombarded the villages of Hseiniyya and al-Janaina. The al-Nusra Front has captured regular soldiers in the city of 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

The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Mashik, killing 2 young men. Heavy regime forces’ shelling continued on the town of Taybet al-Imam. Taybet al-Imam sits at the main north-south road in the country and is near the city of Hama.

The SOHR just received footage of a suicide operation carried out by al-Nusra in November. A truck bomb was detonated in the al-Ziyara area. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPvGbaAb_zk&feature=youtu.be

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 bodies of ten men and one woman were found in agricultural land near al-Shin, today.

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

Clashes resulted in the death of one civilian from al-Safira in Aleppo province. The opposition has taken over the al-Rasafa oil fields in al-Raqqa.

International:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi posted a statement on the ministry’s website indicating Iran’s support for Assad’s “plan” as stated in Assad’s speech on Sunday since it rejects violence [sic] and foreign interference.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon expressed disappointment with Bashar al-Assad’s rejection of peace talks with his opposition and said that Assad’s 6th of January speech “does not contribute to a solution to end the terrible suffering of the Syrian people” and rejects the most important aspect of the June 30, 2012 Geneva communiqué which was political transition and the establishment of a transitional governing body.

The U.S. has condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s speech on Sunday. Patriot missiles are on their way to specified sites on the Turkish-Syrian border. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20930775
Pope Benedict has called on the world to end the violence in Syria.

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus, the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.