Archive | February, 2013

Syria Update, February 24, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 24 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Sunday’s early death toll: At least 108, including 89 unarmed civilians

There are almost 200,000 political detainees in Syria including 4500 women. Detainees are subjected to the cruelest and crudest forms of torture.

Yassin Bakhoush, Syrian comedian killed in crossfire

Views of different Syrian women on the conflict

Refugees and Relief:

Syrian refugees reported being sexually harassed and injured in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan
Then in a protest at the camp today, Syrian refugees were injured, reportedly after drivers of Jordanian vehicles and members of the Jordanian forces assaulted women in the camp. In separate reporting on the rioting, it was stated that a policeman and two children were hurt in the riot, but the cause of the riot was disputed:

Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Surface-to-air missiles fired by the regime on the city of Aleppo have killed at least 58 persons. The missiles hit the Tariq al-Bab area. Violent clashes are taking place, between regime forces and fighters from the Nusra front and several other rebel battalions, around the Kaweirs military airport. The Syrian military used Scud missiles to attack its own people on Friday in Aleppo

The Syrian opposition used captured tanks to launch a fresh offensive on a government complex housing a police academy near Aleppo and clashed with government troops protecting that installation on Sunday. The opposition actually took over the Anya building of the academy and clashes occurred with the Syrian military resulting in casualities. The Syrian military responded with airstrikes to defend the complex, which also includes several smaller army outposts which are supposed to protect the police academy.
The Syrian air force bombarded the town of Khan al-A’sal, and also shlled the areas near the town of Atareb and the town of Kafarhamra.

Around 150 Kurdish women in the war-wracked northern Syrian province of Aleppo have set up a fighting battalion of 150 women named the Martyr Rokan Battalion according to the SOHR
Human Rights.

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Yarmouk camp was shelled by regime forces. One man from Jobar was shot by a sniper and another was found dead in the Qadam neighborhood of Damascus. The Syrian regime forces bombarded areas al-Qadam and al-A’sali. Yaseen Baqush was hit by a rocket in the Asali neighborhood near Yarmouk camp (see the report above) – and the rocket may have come from a regime RPG.

The Syrian regime forces resumed its bombardment of al-Ma’adamiya, killing 6 civilians, including 2 children, and causing injuries. The Syrian regime shelling of Douma has killed 8 persons and regime forces also shelled the town of Yalda. Violent clashes took place between rebel fighters and regime forces in Beit Sahm.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian regime forces shot a man from Salmeen. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Hara, and resumed its bombardment of the towns of Da’el and Taseel. A sniper shot a child in Da’el.

This article is based on information “discovered” by a blogger named Brown Moses who focuses on new weaponry supposedly acquired in Dar`a province and which is supposed to be from Croatia.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Syrian rebels have captured al-Kubar, the site of a suspected nuclear reactor near the Euphrates river which Israeli warplanes destroyed in 2007 – supposedly a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor geared to making weapons-grade plutonium.

The Syrian regime’s military campaign on the city of Deir az-Zur continued for the 256th consecutive day with aircraft bombarding most neighborhoods with missiles and mortars including: Al-Omal
Mattar Al-Qadeem, Al-Jbeileh and al-Hawiqeh
This coincided with intense clashes between the FSA and regime forces at the Baath Party Branch building which has been under siege by the FSA

Here, the intense shelling on Hawiqeh neighborhood

In the western countryside of Deir az-Zur governorate, power and water has been completely cut off for the 25th day as a result of the government’s bombardment. Military aircraft flew over the village of As-Salihiyeh, and several shells fired from the 113 Brigade hit the village, causing damage to private property.

Conditions in al-Salihiyeh

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

The Jabhat al-Nusra announced its responsibility for the suicide operation in which a bus was detonated next to the Ma’amel al-Difa1 (defence plants) in the village of Braq when one of its fighters “drove a bus loaded with 2.5 tons of explosives” towards a group of “shabiha” or pro-regime militiamen as they gathered outside the factory to receive their pay and blew himself up. At least 60 people were killed including 11 women, many residents of Salamiyya, and other cities in Hama and Homs.

The Syrian military forces bombarded the city of Tabaqa.

Syrian warplances targeted vehicles carrying 13 opposition fighters and killing them in the Northern Rif Hama, east of the Ma’ardas village.

The Syrian military bombarded the villages of Jinan, al-Zabadi and al-Sha’ar and also carried out a campaign of house raids and inspections in the Hamidiya neighbourhood of the city of Hama. and no news were received about arrests.

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled Talbisa today

The Syrian regime bombarded the village of Tal al-Shor using artillery and rocket launchers. The Syrian regime also bombarded the area of Houla and Basateen Tadmur.

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombarded the village of al-Jmeiliye in the area of Jusr al-Shughur. The Syrian military also bombarded the town of al-Mghara in al-Zawiya mountain with rocket launchers, and the village of Deir al-Sharqi. Violent clashes were fought between regime forces and the opposition on the Aleppo-Damascus International road near the town of Heesh as the Syrian military attempted to deliver supplies to the military encampments of Wadi al-Dayf and al-Hamidiya.

Latakia province:,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled the town of Salma and the villages of Trtyah and al-Marj al-Kabir. The regime forces carried out artillery bombardment of the village of Kart today.

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombarded the city of Tabaqa – many regime forces are based at the Tabaqa military airport. Syrian regime warplanes carried out air raids on the Safsafa farm and the town of Mansura.


Fierce fighting erupted during the night on the Syria-Lebanon border between Syrian troops and unknown gunmen, leaving a Lebanese man dead and four wounded. The Syrian army used artillery, mortars and automatic weapons in clashes with gunmen in the village of Mcherfe in the Lebanese region of Bukayaa.

French freelance photographer Olivier Voisin, who was seriously wounded in Syria on Thursday, has died of his wounds after surgery on Sunday in Turkey. Turkish surgeons had attempted to save Voisin’s life by operating on him on Friday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that his country will “not remain silent” over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “crimes” against his own people. “Every day a large number of innocent children and women fall dead in Syria,” Erdogan said in a speech at the Government Communication Forum in the United Arab Emirates

The new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry will focus on Syria in an eleven day trip abroad and will meet members of the Syrian opposition.

A documentary on the life and works of slain Syrian activist filmmaker Basil Shahedeh will be shown at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on Feb. 28, 2013.

The New Yorker asks “Can Hizbullah survive the Syrian crisis?” (yes, it will, but for the purposes of the article suspend judgment)

On a detained physician 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.

Syria Update, February 19-20, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

20 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 19-20 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Wednesday early death toll: 28 deaths reported so far.

Tuesday’s death toll: More than 150 killed including 102 unarmed civilians.

Russia’s Sergei Lavrov urged the Syrian government and the opposition to end the conflict after meeting with Nabil al-Arabi, the current head of the Arab League.

An outbreak of typhoid has hit an opposition-held area of Syria after power cuts hit water supplies according to Tarik Jasarevic, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, who said that some 2,500 people had contracted the disease. According to him and later, (in a different report) the organization’s Elizabeth Hoff, people are drawing water from the Euphrates and the water is contaminated, probably by sewage.

Faisal al-Qudsi, a Syrian businessman complained yesterday of the international sanctions hitting Syria. He said the military could only fight for another 6 months, but that Assad would cling to power to the end. He also suggested that “millions would be on the streets,” implying a push to revolution, if the military ceased “killing” (the people).

Some in the West imagine that Syrians live separately according to their religious sect. Not all do by any means. The resistance is composed of all sects and intermarriage is frequent (as it was in Iraq).
Here is one couple

Refugees and Relief:

USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance on Tuesday announced $19 million in humanitarian assistance for Syria. This is in addition to the $155 million pledged in January of 2013 by President Barack Obama. However, 4 million people inside Syria are in dire need of aid and despite all the aid promised (not only by the U.S.), most of those (more than 850,000) in refugee camps, or those living outside of them in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are in very dire condition according to all recent reports by eyewitnesses, advocates, visitors, etc. for example as at the Azaz camp, home to 15,000 which has no running water or electricity, and is terribly cold now.
Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Wednesday: Violent clashes took place this morning in Saba’ Bahrat and near the Neyrab military airport, killing 1 opposition fighter in Saba’ Bahrat, at least. The Syrian military bombarded the neighborhoods of Aqyoul and Qastal Harami.

The opposition (from several factions) surround the police academy in Khan al-Asal and have been trying to storm it. Both the Syrian regime forces and the opposition are bombarding the area around the Kweiris military airport.

Tuesday: 31 civilians (14 children, 5 women and 12 men) were killed in Syrian military’s targeting of the Jabal Badro neighborhood of Aleppo city, most likely by a surface-to-surface missile. The death count is expected to rise due to many injuries and still-unrecovered bodies. 8 civilians, including a child, were killed by the bombardment (by missile) on Jabal Badro, in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo. SOHR reported that a man in Tariq al-Bab, said 15 of his family members were under the rubble of the destroyed house and that a decapitated child’s body had been pulled out. Clashes took place near the police branch in Zebdiya neighbourhood, and clashes occurred in in Bustan al-Qasr. The Syrian air force shelled Jazmatiya..

The Syrian military shelled the town of Orum al-Kubra. The Syrian military had bombarded Tel Rif’at on Monday night, also possibly with a surface-to-surface missile, injuring 10 people. Hundreds of regular Syrian troops backed by military vehicles poured into the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday following rebel advances, these reinforcements arrived at Tel Aran.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Tel Rif’at, (claims are again of a surface-to-surface missile) causing casualities and injuries.

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Today, two mortars exploded inside the Tishreen football stadium in Baramkeh during football practice and killed one player from the al-Wathbah club of Homs.
A fighter jet was downed over Hamouriyya today:
Violent clashes have been taking place in the Tadamoun area since this morning.

Tuesday: The Syrian military bombarded the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus killing 5 men. 2 mortar shells fired by the opposition fell near the southern gate of the Tishreen presidential palace (between the Mezze and the Muhajirin neighborhood; Assad apparently stays there only rarely). Three explosions heard in the area. Several rockets fell on Barzeh and heavy gunfire was heard near the Tishreen military hospital. 2 mortar shells fell on the French hospital in the Assa neighbourhood of central Damascus. An IED planted in a car exploded in Adab al-Arabi street in the Abassiyin area. Clashes took place at dawn Tuesday in the Awal al-Yarmouk, in the Yarmouk camp. Several rockets fell on the Yarmouk camp.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Kafarbatna twice today. The first bombardment killed 7 civilians including a child. The second bombardment caused injuries. The Syrian air force bombarded the city of Douma, killing 6 men on al-Quwatli street. Regime bombardment on Ein Terma killed 5 civilians including 2 women and a child.

A fighter jet drops two rockets on Daraya on Tuesday (film uploaded Wed.)

Tuesday: A car-bomb exploded near Khan al-Sheikh camp, causing injuries. A rocket falling on Douma killed a child. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the towns and cities of al-Buwaida, Maliha, Hosh Arab, Yalda and al-Zabadani. The Syrian military’s troop reinforcements reached Daraya and heavy clashes with the opposition took place along with shelling by helicopter and warplanes. Clashes took place by the al-Nabbak bridge. The Syrian air force carried out 2 raids targeting the city of Zamalka, and the south ring road.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Wednesday: Heavy clashes in Basr al-Harir.

Tuesday: The Syrian military bombarded the towns of Yaduda and Da’el; at least 1 woman was killed and several injured. The Syrian military used helicopters to bombard the town of al-Tiba causing injuries and destroying houses.

1 man was killed by a point blank gunshot fired at a military checkpoint in the Sehm al-Jolan area. The regime forces bombarded the town of al-Yaduda and the villages in the al-Lijah area. Regular forces killed a man at the Nassib border crossing. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Tafas the previous night.

Heavy gunfire was reported in the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood of Dara`a.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA
Wednesday: Clashes took place at dawn in the al-Jbeileh neighborhood of the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military bombarded the Huweiqa neighborhood of Deir az-Zur at midnight last night.

Tuesday: The Syrian regime forces bombardment of the city of Deir az-Zur killed one man, and they hit the Huweiqa neighborhood. The regime forces shelled the town of al-Kharita.

Violent clashes took place in the western part of the province, in the al-Kabr area Clashes two days ago had resulted in high casualties.

Typhoid has broken out in Deir az-Zur province, see the report above.

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Wednesday: The Syrian military have bombarded Kfarnaboudeh with multiple casualities today.

Hassake province,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Four regime troops were killed in Hassake province on Tuesday.

Islamist opposition fighters and Kurdish militias have ceased their hostilities in the city of Ra’s al-`Ain. They signed an accord to fight together against the Assad regime. Up to this point, some deadly clashes had taken place between the Kurdish and Arab factions ever since the opposition had entered Ra’s al-`Ain several months ago.
That accord, concluded on Sunday had been arranged by prominent Christian dissident Michel Kilo and other opposition activists, and it calls for the “complete withdrawal of military forces and displays of arms from the city” – the city is to be governed by a civilian council, which would also manage the border crossing with Turkey in accordance with both parties

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Wednesday: Violent clashes between regime forces and the opposition have been taking place since this morning in the al-We’er neighborhood of Homs. Regime forces freed 3 captive officers, but 1 was killed in the process. Other reports claimed that opposition fighters were able to free many civilians from the neighborhood who had been taken captive by the regime forces today.
The Syrian military shelled Rastan.

Tuesday: The opposition took over the district of al-Qarabees in Homs which has been horribly destroyed over the months of the conflict.

Violent clashes took place yesterday in the covered souqs in Homs; heavy gunfire was heard in the al-Mukhayam and Shammas neighborhoods. Regime shelling took place yesterday on the Houla area, killed 2 children and caused injuries. Earlier bombardment of this area by rockets had taken place in the early a.m. 1 civilian from Homs was killed after his car was fired on while driving the Damascus-Homs highway. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the town of Talbisa. An unidentified body was discovered in the al-Asi river, near al-Dar al-Kabira..

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Wednesday: Violent clashes are taking place in the city of Ariha after Syrian regime forces tried to storm into the city from the west.

Regime forces bombarded Ariha resulting in casualties and injuries, and they bombarded the town of Tamini’a.

Tuesday: The Syrian airforce carried out raids again on the towns of Sarjeh and Bsaqla, and attacked a school in Sarjeh. Regime forces also bombarded the town of Jarjanaz, the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man, and used artillery to shell the towns of Deir Sharqi and Kureen.

A young male detainee from the town of Ghadafa, was killed, his body bore the marks of torture

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Wednesday: Regular Syrian forces of the 17th division bombarded rural areas of Raqqa, and regular forces also shelled areas around the city of Raqqa.

Tuesday: The Syrian airforce shelled the gate and the area around the Euphrates Dam which had been taken over by the Jabhat al-Nusra and other FSA factions earlier this month. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Skoura.

The body of a young man from the city of al-Tabqa was found dumped by the Euphrates river; he had been tortured.

The Syrian air force bombarded al-Tabqa causing injuries, and also shelled the town of al-Mansura

The Syrian military bombarded areas near the Raqqah central prison, and a school and a cultural center. The area north of Raqqah city, around the 17th regiment, was bombarded. A lawyer from the city of Raqqah was assassinated by unknown gunmen on the Raqqah-Tabqa highway.


Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday that Moscow would not support calls by other nations to refer suspected war criminals in Syria to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

The UK’s William Hague called for lifting the EU arms embargo on Syria on Monday. Other EU spokespersons disputed the need as apparently does Catherine Ashton (or her advisors).

Another disturbing picture of torture inside Syria’s prisons

This detailed description of conditions in Syria and the organization of the Free Syrian Army was published on Monday by the visiting

Special Events for Syria:

24 février 2013


L’Institut du monde arabe (Paris) organise, le 24 février prochain, une « Journée de solidarité avec le peuple syrien ». Elle comportera diverses manifestations : concerts de musique, conférences, expositions d’art contemporain et de photographies, lectures de poésie, etc. Voir le programme;

Les fonds récoltés dans ce cadre seront reversés à CODSSY – Collectif du Développement et du Secours Syrien. Réservation sur place

New York: Music For Life International
Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall, New York
The Concert will raise public consciousness and funds for the refugee and internally displaced Children of the Syrian Civil War.

Dmitri Shostakovich: 7th Symphony ” Leningrad”
George Mathew, Conductor and Artistic Director
Elmira Darvarova, Concertmaster (Former Concertmaster, MET Orchestra)
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, MET Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and many others

Syria Update, February 18, 2013

18 Feb

Have been running around in circles trying to help different friends with projects on Syria and I hope that all manifest, but sadly, they are just a drop in the bucket compared to the efforts that are needed.

Here is an excellent report by Kurt DeBeuf:

Back from hell, back from Syria
14.02.13 @ 09:18
RELATED Living up to the Nobel: EU must act on Syria Lack of funding may force Syrian refugees into Europe EU ministers set to beef up Syria arms embargo, sanctions
CAIRO – From 18 to 23 January I travelled to the Hatay region in Turkey and the Aleppo region in northern Syria.

I was there with Rami Jarah and Deiaa Dughmoch (two Syrian activists who had in the past visited the Liberal group in the European Parliament) and Hisham Saad Eddin (the cousin of general Haqim Saad Eddin, from Rastan Homs, where most generals of the Free Syrian Army come from).

We stayed a few days in Hatay (Antakya or Antioch) where many Free Syrian Army (FSA) leaders come to meet and hunt for outside aid.

We met with six generals of the FSA (four from Aleppo, one from Deir Ezzor and one from Homs), with the field commander of Latakia, the information co-ordinator of Deir Ezzor and with five people responsible for humanitarian aid in those regions.

They gave us a very good overview of what is happening on the ground, of how the FSA areas are currently organised and on the humanitarian situation.

On 21 January we went into Syria with general Abdel Nasser Farzat, the military commander of the FSA for the entire Aleppo region. As the border of Bab Al Salam was temporarily closed, we were smuggled in.

At the first checkpoints in Syria (there are checkpoints every five kilometres) the general said we were soldiers. When asked if we were Syrian army defectors, he answered No, as we would have been taken away.

With six persons in one car, we started our journey into the war zone. First we were brought to a meeting the general had set up with a battalion from the city of Idlib in order to prepare what was strategically the most important battle of the moment – the one to take the airport of Quweris.

On the way, we saw burned Syrian regime tanks. After the meeting, we headed for Azaz, a city some 40 kilometres from Aleppo.

To my surprise, we first had to cross six checkpoints run by the PKK, the Kurdish partisan group. The general explained to us that the very northern part of Syria (a corridor of more or less 10 kilometres from the Turkish border) is occupied by the PKK. They are not with the Assad regime or the FSA. The PKK acts independently.

I will come back to the Kurdish point later.

In any case, the moment we left the PKK area and entered FSA territory the general told us: “Now, we are safe.”

Using small roads, in order to avoid shelling and to avoid regime soldiers who still occupy a few strongholds in the Aleppo region, we arrived at about 8pm local time in the house of one of the FSA officers, who offered us a meal. Then we headed to the headquarters, where we had a meeting with Ahmed Abeit, the revolutionary commander of the High Council of the Military Council.

It was quite clear from the beginning that nobody really knows who holds exactly which function in the FSA.

There are two structures which are intermingled: the FSA structure, where former generals of the regime army lead former soldiers (the general commander is called Idriss, who was not in the country at that time, but who promised us we would meet next time) and the revolutionary structure, which draws soldiers from among the anti-regime parts of the civilian population. Both have commanders. They work together, but the hierarchy is unclear.

In any case, Ahmed Abeit told us he has been elected the general commander of all revolutionary structures for the whole of Syria. The next day, when we visited the battlefield of the Quweris airport, we saw Abeit again and realised he was the one in charge of the situation here.

It was not easy talking to the top commanders.

They are deeply suspicious about anything European or American. Every single one of them kept repeating how they have seen nothing at all of the many promises that were made by the international community.

We (the international community) promised them support if they would get organised militarily. Nothing came. We asked them to set up civilian councils. Nothing came. We promised them humanitarian aid. Nothing came. Weapons. Nothing came.

Every single one of them is convinced the West is on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad. A few days before we arrived it was made public that the UN would channel $519 million of humanitarian aid through Assad (and the Syrian Red Cross), while they are getting nothing at all, so is was very hard to defend the Western approach.

I’ll come back to humanitarian aid below.

Despite the distrust, they really did appreciate that I had come along. Because of security reasons (mainly kidnapping), only the top officers knew that I worked at the European Parliament. They were glad that, at the least, a lone European official had made the effort to come to the region and was trying to help (without promising anything) despite the danger.

After a conversation which lasted about two hours, we went back to the officer’s house in Azaz, where the four of us and the general got some sleep on the floor of the living room.

During the night we heard bombs coming down from planes in a neighbouring town. The officer said it was likely they would hit our area in the morning. Luckily, that did not happen.

On the front line
The next morning the general took us in the car onward to Aleppo (or so we thought). Instead, he brought us to the battlefield at the airport of Quweris.

They told us it was safe, but we heard and saw continuous shelling and gunfire. We had to run or walk fast from one place to the other. The area had just been liberated the day before and they were preparing for a big battle for the airport a few days later.

In order to give the regime soldiers (some 2,000 were stuck at the airport) no chance to take back any ground, the FSA fired bombs from where we stood.

I saw with my own eyes what Ahmed Abeit told me the day before: as they have not received any serious weapons they have to make them themselves. Literally. The FSA has to make bombs and the equipment from whatever iron they find.

On the other hand, I saw cluster bombs and other huge projectiles being fired by the regime. There are no anti-aircraft weapons on the FSA side, even though that would be the only way to stop the continuous bombing of the civilian population. Because of the bombing and shelling there is not one safe place in the entire region.

I visited a small division on the front line, where I saw three bombs fired at the airport.

Although the soldiers were proud to show off their fighting prowess, the commander told me they were sad they had to fight. He said the FSA wants peace, but Assad has forced them into war. He gave me a branch of an olive tree and asked me to bring it to the European Parliament in order to show Europe that their intentions were good.

The generals present also made a video message for the regime soldiers inside the airport.

They asked them to surrender or defect. They told them they did not want to fight them, but Assad. Those who surrender would be brought before a court, which would decide about their fate. Those regime soldiers who had really murdered and butchered people would probably be executed. The others would get the choice: join the FSA or go home.

An important detail is that the cousin of the general was one of the regime soldiers in the airport.

I was relieved when we left the battlefield. We went back to Azaz, where we visited some dramatic places – we saw the only bakery which has not been bombed.

The regime is deliberately attacking bakeries in order to hurt the general population.

But even worse was the market place we visited. One week ago, at 2pm, the most crowded moment on market day, the regime hit the market square with two huge missiles. Thirty people (of all ages) were killed immediately, 300 were heavily wounded. The place was completely trashed. Local people told me that there were still people under the rubble, but that they had no means to look for them.

Desperate local people blamed the EU and the US for doing nothing and for not helping them in any way. There is no food, no medical aid, no electricity and almost no heating.

It is hard to put into words my frustration, my pain and the shame I felt at that moment in the market place.

Before we headed back to Turkey, we insisted to see one of the refugee camps inside Syria. We already said from the very beginning that this was one of the main things we wanted to visit, as well as the city of Aleppo. The general and the others kept on telling us that it was not safe enough to go to Aleppo, as the roads were being shelled.

When they also hesitated to bring us to a refugee camp we got the impression these Syrians were rather ashamed to show us the worst.

As they felt too proud to ask us to help them with aid or weapons (“We don’t need Europe …”), they must have thought that showing the misery would have been like admitting their own failure.

But as there was a camp on our way to the border (where we were smuggled back into Turkey), we did get to go to a camp. Here the same scenario. The director of the camp first did not want to let us in. It was thanks to the general we were able to go inside.

The Azaz refugee camp
The lack of humanitarian aid is the most striking thing in the refugee camps. I visited a camp in the north-eastern area of the Aleppo region.

Even though the camp is only a few hundred meters from the Turkish border (Bab el Salam) and there is no security problem at all, almost no aid is going to the camp.

As proof of the safety, I can tell that I saw a Turkish ambulance passing by the camp, from inside Syria to Turkey.

I will summarise what I saw in a few points:

* in the camp there live 11,400 people, even though it was initially built for a few hundred. Eight thousand of them are children;

* in the storage room for milk, there is no milk. Usually they do receive some milk, but not enough. So after every few days of milk there is two weeks of no milk;

* there is a serious lack of food. That is the reason why they cannot give people more than one meal a day. Even then there was only food for two more days. When I asked the camp director if he knew if food would come soon, he said he could only hope;

* there is a serious lack of heating. Yesterday four children died in the camp because of cold. Some tents have no heating (I have seen a family with a disabled child in such a tent), others have a small coal heater. There is coal but I have seen families who were just burning paper. In some camps people recently died because tents went up in flames;

* the tents are of course small (nine square meters) and families are usually quite big (six to 10 people). Because of the rain, the bottoms of the tents are wet;

* there is a lack of toilets, so the area around the camp (and some parts of the camp) is an open toilet. This situation is very dangerous for epidemics. In one camp this is already the case;

* there is hardly any electricity;

* there is as good as no medical support and no medicine. I saw a baby boy (one year old) with an open wound on his leg caused by shrapnel. It had not been treated for days. His father came out of one of the unheated tents in the mud to show him to me;

* the weather is cold and rainy. Water and mud streams between the tents. Open spaces are even worse;

* not surprisingly, morale is very low. Many of the refugees have psychological problems because of the shelling. Many do not dare to go back home. All of them just want their family and themselves to survive.

My conclusion is that the Syrians are right: there is no support whatsoever going to the liberated areas or to the revolutionaries.

In terms of surface area, the FSA controls more or less 75 percent of Syria. In terms of people, however, it is hard to tell, but it must be more or less 50 percent of people who live in “liberated areas.”

Here I will not go deeper into the dramatic situation of arms.

I will concentrate on humanitarian aid.

The humanitarian situation is incredibly dramatic. It is such a disaster that it is hard to describe, even to imagine.

But I will try to summarise the situation as follows:

1. There is no official international aid coming to the liberated (FSA) areas. Every commander or council leader confirmed to me that the only aid they get comes from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and from small, mostly private organisations. The only official organisation that is represented is Medecins sans Frontieres, with three small field hospitals for the entire region of Aleppo.

2. There is no aid coming to the liberated areas through the Syrian Red Cross. The Assad regime is blocking as much official aid as possible from going to his “enemies.” The director of the Azaz camp told me the only thing he ever received through this channel was rubber for people to sleep on, a long time ago. The fact that this week again the UN announced it would give the Syrian Red Cross $519 million created outrage in the region of Aleppo.

3. Contrary to rumours, Turkey has not closed its border. I have seen some 100 trucks waiting to enter Syria at the border. The reason given for the temporary closure was security. Turkey decides alone when it is safe enough for trucks with aid to go in. In general, it must be said that if there is one country caring for and helping the Syrians, it is Turkey.

4. The security situation is of course dramatically bad. The shelling is absolutely random and unpredictable. The regime shells the FSA areas with heavy ordnance from airplanes and with long-range surface-to-surface missiles. It is very clear from everything I saw that the regime is targeting primarily civilians, much more than soldiers. The main targets are bakeries (bread is more essential in the Syrians diet than for European eating habits), packed market places, wheat factories, any crowded areas. It is clear that Assed wants to wreck civil society, break the morale of the people, the backbone of the revolution, create as many refugees as possible and promote the idea that without him, the country is a disaster. The fact that the civilians are punished for this in humanitarian aid as well makes them, of course, very angry.

5. Contrary to its image, the liberated areas are well organised. In every area (except Homs) there is a military council, a civilian council, a court and a police force. The main reasons why they do not do more are the continuous shelling and the lack of humanitarian aid. People are that desperate that there is a lot of theft. Because of the shelling, it is hard for police and judges to concentrate on day-to-day law and order. The lack of humanitarian aid also weakens the authority of these councils (and of the Syrian Opposition Coalition) because if they cannot provide the people with the absolute basics of food and medicine, what is the use of listening to them?

However, it is very important to know that these councils are there and that they could work properly if they got the chance.

The leaders of these civil councils travel to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan in order to find aid and bring it back to their cities. Many of them assured me that it is perfectly possible to co-ordinate with all of these councils in order to get aid to every corner of the liberated areas, and even beyond.

The people of Homs, for example, also provide help for the regime-controlled areas. They assured me that a system of accountability for crimes is perfectly possible. It even exists already in some cases.

What should be done?
Many ordinary Syrians trying to flee the fighting are going to die if humanitarian aid does not come to the FSA territories quickly.

The aid promised by the UN to the Syrian government (Syrian Red Cross) will not come to these places, whatever they promise.

In order to get aid to the right areas and the right people we have to differentiate between two problems:

First, there is the urgent situation in the camps near the Turkish/Syrian border. As it is not true that the border is closed and as there is no security problem here at all, the camps inside Turkey and near to Turkey should be provided with direct aid. This can be done through the Turkish Red Crescent or similar organisations. Except for international bureaucracy, I cannot see any other problem in order to get aid to these camps.

Secondly, concerning the aid that has to go deeper into Syria, there is also a solution. The organisation is there in Syria. Right now the aid does go from Turkey to various rebel areas, even to Homs (completely surrounded by the regime). This network is mainly civilian and gets FSA protection. It is organised by the civil councils of the rebel cities and towns.

International aid from the EU and UN has to bypass the government.

In Syria this is of course problematic. Since the Syrian Opposition Coalition of Muaz Al Khatib has been internationally recognised, this umbrella group creates another possibility.

The UN knows this and has asked to create a special unit for dealing with it, the so-called ACU. However, the problem is that this unit is not connected to the network inside Syria and that the inside network is not properly co-ordinated.

I have convinced Abdel Nasser Fazat, the military commander of the FSA on the ground in northern Syria and Ahmed Abeit, the commander of the FSA on the ground for the whole of Syria, to appoint a civilian leadership for managing future aid.

This was not easy, as both are very cynical about the West and all the promises that were made in the past, without any, any results.

They have given me one chance to try again. This person/unit will connect the links that already exist and represent them. He will also make sure every piece of aid will arrive at the place it was meant for. They have created and used systems of accountability before.

This can only work if the EU agrees with this process.

The EU must take a leap of faith – it is the only way to save people’s lives inside the FSA territories. The EU urgently needs to take action in order to convince the international humanitarian community to take the same leap of faith. If this is impossible, another way must be found. Urgently.

The political side of this is also important.

The FSA and the civilian councils are losing respect and authority because they cannot deliver aid. That is one reason why popular support is growing for jihadists and Al Qaeda – they deliver.

If we hesitate on the humanitarian aid front, as we did in the past on the political and military front, we should not be surprised if post-Assad Syria will be more anti-Western than the Assad-era one.

They are ready to give us one more chance. After what I have seen in the last few days, doing nothing would be, simply, inhuman.

The political-military situation
I spoke to FSA commanders and civilian leaders in five liberated areas: Aleppo, Idlib, North-Latakia, Deir-Ezzor and Homs.

Each one of these areas is organised more or less in the same way. They have a military council and a civilian council. They have courts, where judges genuinely work and they have a police force.

The FSA is organised in two wings: the military wing (led by former regime generals) and the revolutionary wing (lead by civilians turned into soldiers). It looks like the former generals are in charge of the co-ordination of the military battles, while the revolutionary leaders are the ones who unite battalions under one command.

The fact that this is what the latter do gives these revolutionary leaders more authority. My impression of the Aleppo region, where I have seen both sides of the FSA co-operating, is that, although this complex organisation is not ideal, it nevertheless seems to work.

In any case, the FSA is working hard on uniting the battalions. In Latakia for example, already 26 battalions were brought under one command. In northern Aleppo, 30. However, it was not clear how the biggest battalions in Aleppo (Liwa Al Tawheed and Jabhat al Nusra) fit into this.

Commanders told me there is a kind of common understanding on how these military councils and civilian councils should work and what their responsibilities are.

Meanwhile, the courts, together with the police forces, are trying their best to keep order. However, these quasi-institutions have a serious lack of capacity. The main reason for this lack is the continuous and random shelling.

As most people have no work and thus no income, they depend on the councils in order to survive. As the bakeries are being shelled and almost no aid is coming in, many people abuse the confusion during shelling in order to steal. This might be understandable, but from the point of view of trying to establish law and order, it is unacceptable.

One of the problems is that if they catch a thief, they do not know what to do with him or her. There are no prisons and as one (Salafist) commander told me: “What can I do? Cut his hand? We are not living in an Islamic State, you know!”

They asked me for advice. I advised them to organise public processes and to condemn thieves to community work, like reconstruction. They accepted this advice and will try to implement it.

The second reason for the lack of capacity is the lack of aid and of proper weapons. The FSA is incapable of doing anything against the planes that are firing on them on a daily basis. If they shoot one down, it is always by luck.

The commander of Latakia told me he once received a shipment of 200,000 bullets, but that he hardly needs these. What he needs are anti-aircraft weapons. Stopping the aircraft from bombing towns and targeting civilians is the only way for the rebels to get organised. It will also allow humanitarian aid organisations to come in. The fact that the FSA is not receiving aid and proper weapons decreases its authority and prestige.

The most dreadful example is Aleppo.

In the north-eastern part of Aleppo there are 120,000 refugees. Women and children are living in schools. In every school there are at least 60 orphans. There is no heating, no bathrooms, no transportation (the price of diesel is astronomical), only one hour of electricity a day, not enough food, almost no medicine.

They received some medicine from Germany, but these were all past their expiry dates and many boxes of pills were half-used.

There are factories to make food and fuel, but they were built for a capacity of 15,000 people, and now they need to serve 200,000 people. If something breaks down in a factory, there are no spare parts and there is hardly enough fuel to make the generators work.

The general of north-east Aleppo said they had enough wheat for three years, but that there are no processing plants to produce anything from it. Along the 800-km border between Syria and Turkey, just one plant is actually functioning.

This lack of capacity creates space for the agenda of the Assad regime. From the beginning, Assad has been saying that the opposition wants to divide Syria and to create an Islamic State.

In order to promote this idea to the international community, Assad is supporting the PKK. He is happy about the creation of Jabhat Al Nusra, but even more so with the fact the US put it on its terrorist list.

What is Jabhat Al Nusra?
The Nusra front was created by international jihadists. The people behind it (who have links to Al Qaeda) are kind of mercenaries for radical Islamism. They fight in any given country to help their “brothers in faith” and after one job is finished they move to another country.

Although Jabhat Al Nusra was quite insignificant in the beginning (one year ago), it had two advantages which helped it suck respect from other FSA fighters. First, Assad proclaimed the Nusra as his biggest enemy, which is a plus in opposition circles. Secondly, the jihadists are experienced fighters. They are well organised and well disciplined. Contrary to some other FSA battalions they never steal and never get out of control.

They also get better funding from abroad. It is not clear where that money comes from, but it is channelled by private persons in Turkey. Putting them on the US terrorist register has fuelled popular theories that the West secretly supports Assad.

Jabhad Al Nusra are no angels.

They are radical Islamists and have a different agenda to the FSA battalions.

I did feel on the battlefield in Quweris (where one of the officers was as good as certainly Al Qaeda) the influence of these Islamists. As they are against smoking, all smoking soldiers must put their cigarettes away when they arrive. There was also a story of them intimidating a female journalist because she was not wearing a veil.

In Deir Ezzor Jabhat, Al Nusra is playing a power game in which it wants to take control of all natural resources (wheat and oil), causing serious tension with the other FSA battalions.

However, it is important to highlight that most of the fighters of Jabhat Al Nusra are not jihadists. They are people who joined them because of their good reputation. The fact that they have to grow their beards and so on in order to join, does not mean they are real jihadists themselves.

One important detail for the West is the fact that one radical group, which declared the formation of a new Caliphate in Aleppo, have been sentenced to prison because they did not represent anyone.

What is the PKK doing?
The PKK is gaining more and more territory in Syria.

They are not regime, not FSA and certainly not jihadists – they also have their own agenda. This was already clear during a large Syria opposition conference in Cairo in July 2012.

As the other Syrians did not want to promise autonomy for Kurdish areas after Assad goes, the PKK is taking matters into its own hands. I drove through PKK territory in the north of the Aleppo region, where it controls the border area going from Turkey some 10-15 kilometres deep into Syria.

They control a larger area in the far east of Syria and in the north-west region of Deir Ezzor. Some people from Deir Ezzor say the PKK is being supported by the Assad regime in order to weaken a local coalition of Christian, Arab and indigenous Kurdish tribes in the area. In any case, the PKK fighters are trained in Kurdish-majority-dominated Turkey and are trying to seize control of eastern Syria and its resources.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki has closed the border between Iraq and Syria, but there are also many contacts between the PKK and the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq.

One civilian leader from Deir Ezzor says that the Iraqi-Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has 13 units from within Turkey, Syria and Iraq under his control. Barzani also gave 13,000 tents to the PKK in Syria. Whatever the real agenda of Barzani and the PKK is, no doubt it will become an important point on the agenda of the post-Assad transition.

The main conclusion of my journey is that the West is listening too much to Assad.

He warned us that the rebellion could lead to sectarian war, terrorists, an Islamic state, the disintegration of Syria.

There was a grain of truth in his warning. But for a long time, it was pure propaganda. Now, as the months go by, Assad’s own actions are making it into a reality. Meanwhile, the fact the West heeded his warning and hesitated to get involved, made the problems look bigger than they are, helped Assad to propagate his self-fulfilling prophecy.

The fact we do not support the FSA has created space for Jabhat Al Nusra and the PKK. The fact that we do not give humanitarian aid is weakening the FSA and helping Assad. The fact that we do not give support to the civil councils makes space for sectarian violence.

One year ago, Syrian opposition member Fawaz Tello told the the Liberal group in the European Parliament: “Assad is going to fall, no doubt. The question is if Europe wants to be on the right side of history in order to limit the killings and play a role in the reconstruction afterwards?”

Today this question remains poignant.

We can still play a role, limit the casualties and help to build a secular/non-sectarian Syria. The task is not even that difficult.

We should give humanitarian aid directly to the liberated areas and we should give anti-aircraft defences to the FSA. It is the only way to support the right people in this conflict and to help non-combatant Syrians to survive.

Risks, doubts, glitches will hang over whatever we do.

But what is the alternative? Supporting a war criminal of historic proportions? By hesitating to support the opposition, this is exactly what the West is doing.

Koert Debeuf is the Liberal group’s representative in Cairo and an advisor to Liberal leader and former Belgian PM, Guy Verhoftsadt. he also writes a blog for EUobserver

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

14 Feb

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

Wednesday’s early death toll: 45 killed at least.

Tuesday death toll: Approximately 200 people killed, about 150 of them were combatants and 41 civilians (5 children)

Looting of artifacts is ongoing to finance the opposition.

Funding for battalions in Syria is a big business. As to why factionalism exists, this author repeats: ‘When the Syrian president, head of the military junta at the time, signed the unification agreement with Nasser, basically handing the country to the Egyptians and stripping himself of his presidential title, he passed the document to Nasser and said I give up my role as president but I hand you a country of four million presidents.’ (Some inaccuracies in this article (the non-violent resistance movement began first, there was no FSA in March 2011, there were many more than 30 Lebanese factions [up to 140], etc. )

Syria’s secular and anti-sectarian revolution continues:

Refugees and Relief:

MSF (Doctors without Borders) plans to open a hospital for children at Zaatari camp in Jordan in two weeks. The hospital will have 35 beds, to increase to 60 beds. Five doctors and eight nurses are to work at the hospital which will cost $1.62 million.

Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition fighters killed a young man in the Qadi Askar neighborhood of Aleppo, reportedly after cursing them because a mortar had killed 2 of his family members. The bombardment on the Karm al-Tarab neighborhood of Aleppo has killed 8 people. In The Syrian airforce bombarded the Dahr Awad, Qadi Askar, and Nayrab neighborhoods.

Violent clashes are taking place between fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, Tawhid brigade, al-Muhajireen battalion and others with regime forces nar the 80th regiment. Last night the opposition fighters took over most of the strategic army “Base 80” following fierce fighting. Base 80 is meant to secure the Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airport. Weapons seized by the rebels after taking the 80th regiment:

Clashes took place today near the Nayrab military airport. The opposition had seized the military airport at al-Al-jarrah and launched an assault on other air bases in Aleppo province including the Aleppo international airport which has been closed since January 1. The rebel fighters have taken control of tens of military jets, most of them MiGs 17 and some Sukhoi L39.

Clashes in the village of Dweirina killed 1 opposition fighter and 3 regular soldiers. The Syrian military bombarded Jeb al-Safa near al-Safira.

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian government forces bombarded several areas of the Jobar neighborhood resulting in 8 civilian deaths as well as injuries. The Syrian regime forcs also bombarded al-Hajar al-Aswad and crried out raids and arrests on the civilians of Rukn al-Din.

The regime forces resumed shelling Daraya in the evening using rocket launchers and heavy artillery. Fresh reinforcements of regime troops headed to Darayya for the 89th day in a row coming from al-Mazzeh military airport and the nearby barracks.

In Douma, shelling killed one man and 2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes. Shelling on the Hran al-Awamid area killed another opposition fighter. The Syrian military shelled the cities of Daraya, Harasta, and al-Zabadani. Clashes took place outside the city of Zamalka.

Dr. Ali Ismandar, Secretary general of the National Defense Front- was killed Tuesday night of tuesday along with his 2 children and cousin in an ambush by the opposition in the al-Qalamoun area near the town of Qarra.

Fighter planes carried out an air raid on the town of Deir al-A’safir, and on Kafrbatna town and the outskirts of the southern Bypass (al-Mutahaleq al-Janoubi) in the al-Ghouta al-Sharqiyya area.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Loud explosions were reported in Dara`a al-Balad. “Dozens” reported killed in al-Sanmin in shelling by the regime forces.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Opposition fighters shot down a helicopter in Deir al-Zur. One of the foreign fighters sounds American.

The following were killed 11/02/13 (reported yesterday) Adel Abdulqader Al-Hwaij, in bombardment Haweejat Saqor; Hamdan Al-Jaddou’a Al-Khatter in clashes in al-Jbeile; Ahmad Al-Lahej in clashes in the western countryside; Najem Abdullah At-Turki, shot by a sniper near the military airport;
Yasser Jassim Al-Emmaier; originally from Al-Jurthi village in clashes near Brigade 113. Five others were killed in Deir az-Zur yesterday.

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

A man on a suicide mission blew up a truck next to a Popular Committee (pro-regime militia) checkpoint in the town of Sqeilabiya yesterday. More than 20 militia fighters were killed and injured.

Hassake province,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Violent clashes occurred between Jabhat al-Nusra fighters and the remaining regime forces in the city of al-Shadadi. The al-Nusra fighters took over many areas of the city over the past 48 hours. Clashes and suicide car bombs killed 20 regime forces and at least 16 al-Nusra fighters, 3 of them are non-Syrian (and there are other bodies as yet unidentified) The al-Nusra fighters strengthened their position by bringing in a tank. Miilitary reinforcements were arriving from the city of al-Hasakah.

An Iraqi rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the city of Shadada, yesterday (as well as 2 fighters originally from Deir az-Zur province).

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Yesterday there were reports that 3 civilians from the Karm al-Shami neighbourhood of Homs were killed by pro-regime militiamen. In the same area, shabiha captured a family of 2 men and 3 women.

Baba Amr, a year later:

Here is a makeshift field hospital in Arrastan in Homs:

A child is cutting grass to eat in Homs and speaks of the fruits and vegetables he misses

A fighter here speaks of the Red Crescent coming, smiling and not even checking his injuries.

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The regime forces shelling of Kafrnabel has killed 7 civilians. Regime forces’ shelling of al-Bashariyya has killed five persons.

Latakia province:,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The town of Nahiyat Kenseba was bombarded by military helicopters yesterday

Quneitra province:,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Israeli troops shot at the legs of a man near the border on the Golan Heights today, after they fired a warning shot.

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian fighter jets fired at the rebel held area, at the northern entrance to the Euphrates Dam, yesterday.


Russia is continuing to provide anti-aircraft defense systems to Syria.

Qatar has handed over the Syrian embassy building in Doha to the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition. Mr Nizar al-Haraki is the ambassador to Doha for the National Coalition.

John Kerry, the new U.S. Secretary of State says he thinks he knows what will motivate Bashar al-Assad (to leave?)

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, February 10, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

10 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 10, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Sunday’s early death toll: More than 60, including 21 civilians.

Saturday death toll: 160 killed, including 84 unarmed civilians

Yuhanna Yazigi was enthroned as the new Greek Orthodox patriarch, Yuhanna (John) X in Damascus today, calling for peace and reforms. The regime used snipers on the rooftops around the Church of the Holy Cross, in Qassaa.

Omran al-Zoubi, the minister of information has called for dialogue on Friday. Although he spoke of no preconditions, the talks are to involve “laying down of weapons.” It’s not clear if this is a formal response to al-Khatib’s offer.

Syria’s Druze population is increasingly supporting the opposition to Bashar al-Assad.

A teenager from Dara`a was one of those who began the Syrian revolution. Here he speaks in an interview.

Refugees and Relief:

Jordanian police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse 200 Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp following their attack on the storehouse of a Norwegian charity as it gave away aid, injuring a policeman in a 30 minute riot. (The photograph shows a burnt tent following a previous riot over a week ago)
Rita Zawaideh returned from a visit to Syrian refugees in Jordan, and is again collecting medical equipment for the disabled, medicines, money, and clothing. Read her notes here:

Two Americans speak of their trips to Syria to try to help refugees and injured:

Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Government forces committed a massacre in Jneid, killing 45 civilians, including women and children as they attempted to move to break the opposition’s siege on a military factory at al-Safeera, yesterday. Today, Syrian government soldiers traveling from Aleppo’s airport toward the same factory engaged in clashes with the opposition and suffered casualties; at least 4 regime soldiers were killed and 20 injured.

An opposition battalion leader was killed in clashes with regime forces around the Kweers military airport, near al-Bab city of Reef Aleppo. An opposition fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the village of Dweirna.

On Saturday, bombardment on al-Haydariyya and al-Qatirji neighborhoods of Aleppo killed 2 civilians, and a sniper shot a Kurdish-Syrian in Ashrafiyya. A man’s body was found in the Qweiq river

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A mortar hit a street near Shahbandar square in Damascus, killing 4 people and injuring others. (This regime-held area is where Natasha and I used to live).
A roadside IED exploded on Arnous street, in the heart of the city injuring 2 civilians, and was aimed at the police department on Arnous square. In Roukn al-Din, a suicide bomber blew himself up – 3 were killed.

Clashes occurred in the Jobar neighborhood in which one regular Syrian soldier was killed. A sniper killed two men in Jobar. The regime forces bombarded the areas near the southern bypass road (al-Mutahaleq al-Junubi) – these forces were operating from al-Qabun. A bomb went off in Qudsiyya. The regime forces also bombarded parts of the southern ring road.

The Syrian air force bombarded Douma and Adra and clashes with the opposition took place there. One fighter in Douma and one opposition fighter in Daraya was killed in clashes. The Syrian military also bombarded Daraya, Irbeen, Shab`a, Zamalka, and al-Nabbak. 2 men were killed in the shelling of al-Nabbak, one of them in the bombardment and the ohter under unknown circumstances.

This is the fifth day of an offensive by the opposition to take a key highway outside Damascus which runs to the north. Checkpoints on the road have changed hands several times since Wednesday. The opposition overran the Adnan checkpoint on the highway today.

One man was found dead in the Hala area. Heavy clashes took place near Aqraba and the regime forces shelled the town.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian military (regime) bombardment of the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood of Dara`a killed a woman and 3 children. Syrian regime shelling of the town of al-Na`ima killed one woman. A man died of his wounds after a shelling of Busra al-Sham. The regime continued bombarding Busra al-Sham and al-Na`ima.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Opposition fighters used tanks to bombard Brigade 113, as regime forces clashed with them north of the city of Deir Izzor city. A rebel fighter was killed today during clashes with regime forces near the brigade 113 in Reef Deir Izzor.

In Deir Izzor city, violent clashes again took place in the Matar al-Qadim neighborhood, and news were received about the progress of rebel fighters in the neighbourhood. Violent clashes are taking place in the Hweiqa neighbourhood.

The Syrian regime killed 10 civilians and opposition fighters in Deir az-Zur yesterday, most of them in clashes in al-Matar al-Qadim. Those killed included: Baibars Salem Ad-Darwish, Nezar Wahbi As-Saleh, Sulaiman Jassem Al-Sulaiman, Mahmoud Subhi Al-Mousa, Abdulsalam Hassan Al-Hamideh, Subhi Albdulmajeed Al-Ali, Isma`il ar-Rashid, Ahmad Ziyad Ar-Rahmou, Majd Ad-Din Fayez Al-Hussein, and Eyad Al-Farran (an FSA leader)

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

An opposition attack on the cement factory in the village of Kafarbhum, killed 5 civilian guards.

Clashes took place between opposition fighters and regime forces, near the town of Kafarnabuda town, and the regime forces bombarded that area.

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The regime forces continued their bombardment of the neighborhoods of Homs, including Jobar and al-Sultaniyya and there were clashes in these areas.
Today, 3 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with regime forces on the Homs-Damascus highway.
The regime forces’ shelling of al-Qusair and the village of Tiba in the Houla area killed 2 civilians, one of them a girl
Footage of the girl killed by the bombardment on al-Tiba:

The regime forces also shelled the town of Ghanto.
Ziad al-Zhouri, age 11, was killed on Saturday in shelling on the town of al-Qusair. His father was killed in the conflict in October of 2012. At least four opposition fighters were reported killed in clashes with regime forces in the village of Kafar Aya, outside of the city of Homs. Regime forces have been constantly bombarding this opposition-held village.
Heavy bombardment by regime forces on Rastan killed two men and one woman yesterday. Another person was killed in the shelling of Talbisah.

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Intermittent clashes took place between regime forces and opposition fighters from several battalions near Wadi al-Dayf and the Hamidiya checkpoint. The Syrian military resumed bombardment of areas in the city of Ma’arat al-Nu`man city and the town of Kafruma.

Here a child sings violent slogans and sectarian sentiments of some of the opposition fighters:

Latakia province:,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regime forces shelled the town of Sala in the Akrad mountains and used helicopters.

According to witnesses, the children prisoners at the political security branch in Lttakia are treated even more horribly than the adults. They are routinely raped, their fingernails pulled out.

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, the Uwais al-Qarni battalion and the Ahrar al-Tabaqa battalion took over the governorate building in the city of al-Tabqa after the retreat of regular forces. They seized ammunition and heavy weapons.


The families of Lebanese taken hostage by the Azaz Northern Storm Brigade in Syria try to bring attention to the prisoners. The captors claim these are Hizbullah fighters, the families say they are merely Shi`a.

In an interview with Stephen Sackur, Khalid Meshaal, the leader of Hamas explains that Hamas is at odds with Iran’s support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, but does not reject Iran’s support (as Sackur perhaps wishes he would say). At the beginning of Part 2 of the interview:

UNESCO is holding a 4 day meeting in Amman from Feb. 10 – 13, 2013 on the illicit trafficking of Syria’s cultural holdings.

In the United States, calls to arm the Syrians continue, after it was revealed that both Leon Panetta and Hilary Clinton supported such a plan, but the White House opposed it.

A Few of Syria’s Historical and Archaeological Rreasures 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.

Syria Update, February 5, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

6 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 2, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s early death toll: 110 killed including 49 civilians

Yesterday’s early death toll: More than 90 including 43 civilians (and including former MP Ibrahim Azuz and his wife and 2 women who were assassinated by opposition fighters).

Although Moaz al-Khatib’s initial offer to speak to Bashar al-Assad initially met with a torrent of dissent from his fellow opposition members, they have agreed with qualifications. Assad must step down and leave the country, but these are not preconditions for talks. Al-Khatib had asked for freedom for 160,000 political prisoners and passport renewals for the Syrian diaspora. The minister of national reconciliation, Ali Haidar has said the 160,000 figure was exaggerated and the opposition should send a list, also that the government might address the passport issue, but not the prisoners and that it is open to speaking to the non-violent opposition.

Comments on the talks: Fayez Sayegh of the Ba`ath party said today that there must be no preconditions to talks and that the numbers of political prisoners were exaggerated. Al-Watan, a government newspaper said that Khatib was not a fit negotiator and that his offer is two years too late. Nabil al-Arabi, leader of the Arab League backed the Syrian opposition’s call for talks.

Footage of rebels summarily executing a conscript soldier
(SOHR has this footage and details)

On the importance of videos in documenting war crimes in Syria (including the government’s)

Refugees and Relief:

Domestic violence is increasing among Syrian refugees.

Is international aid reaching Syrian refugees?

The UN has begun delivering chemicals, chlorine and sodium to treat Syria’s water over the Jordanian border. Safe water is very difficult to come by.

Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian air force bombarded the Jazamati, Bani Zeid and al-Sabeel neighborhoods and the Share’ al-Neel area.

The bishop of Aleppo, a Jesuit, Antoine Audo of the Chaldean Church who also heads Syria’s Caritas charity spoke of his communities anguish in Aleppo for seven months. He said Christians are sometimes more often targeted by kidnappers, and that one cannot risk leaving Aleppo in a car. Like other Allepines they are suffering from shelling, sniper attacks, shortages.

At least 20 opposition fighters were killed in clashes last night when regime forces went on an offensive to recapture the Sheikh Sa’id neighborhood and took over the cement factory in the area.

Clashes took place by the al-Tub al-Arabi roundabout in Share’ al-Neel and clashes continued near the Mahlab barracks and near the Hamadaniya al-Baladi stadium checkpoint where casualties occurred late Monday and early Tuesday.

Syrian forces reinforced their checkpoints in the town of Khanaser and areas around it. The army took control there yesterday and is expected to move from there to al-Safira, held by al-Nusra Front. The regime forces killed 6 children and 2 women when they stormed Khanaser. Battles also took place today at al-Bab and by the armament battalion in the town of Khan Touman.

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military bombed the neighborhoods of al-Asali and al-Qadam. The Syrian military and militias carried out raids in the Dahaleel neighborhood of Damascus city, and they destroyed and burned properties.

Regime forces carried out raids and arrests in the city of Harasta, and took away several civilians, as the air force was seen over that area. The regime forces’ shelling on Douma killed 1 young man. A fire swept through Douma following the shelling.The Syrian air-force went on 4 raids on the town of al-Sabina.

Ten were killed in Mu`adhamiyya.

Six children were killed Monday in an air raid by the Syrian military.
The Syrian military shelled the city of Daraya along with the arrival of new military reinforcements to the city. Numerous clashes took place between regime forces and opposition fighters near the Vehicles head department building located between the cities of A’rbeen and Harasta. Warplanes were active today over Daraya and al-Ghuta al-Sharqiya.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Heavy clashes took place today on the Syrian-Jordanian border in Dara`a. A regime sniper killed a young girl in the town of Busra al-Sham.

Clashes took place in Dara`a al-Balad neighborhood of the city of Dara`a. The regime forces’ bombardment resumed on the A’basiyya neighborhood.
An attack on a bus killed 8 regular troops in Reef Dara`a.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The medical committees of Deir az-Zur published a report on the spread of infectious diseases: some 3,000 cases of leishmaniosis have been diagnosed near Hajin; entire families infected with the disease: 2,500 cases of typhoid fever; 250 cases of Hepatitis A, 15 cases of newborns with congenital deformities. Also no vaccinations have been available for 8 months, and very little medical care, lack of medical supplies, etc.

Reported deaths:
An infant died today Hajar Laith Al Dali, due to the insufficiency of doctors and the shortage of medicine

Abu Saif, a Free Syrian Army member. Regime sharpshooters shot him in al-Jbeileh neighborhood (he is from al-Hamideyeh)

Today was the 237th consecutive day of the regime’s military campaign on Deir az-Zur city by use of heavy artillery and rocket launchers on most neighborhoods and air force attacks.
Gun fire exchanges took place between regime forces and the Free Syrian Army in Assina’a, al-Jbeileh, and al-Haweeqah.

Severe destruction and damage in al-Hamideyeh

Report about the conversion of children parks to cemeteries

Gun fire exchanges near the 113th air defense brigade HQ in the western countryside of the governorate and air force strikes hit the edge of that area with cluster bombs.

The city of al-Mayadeen shook when ground-to-ground missile hit the village of Jadeed Bakara.

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Heavy clashes resumed in the towns of al-Magheer and Karnaz, with losses on both sides. The town of Karnaz in Hama was bombarded by regime warplanes, which destroyed many houses. There were clashes in Karnaz as well.

On Monday night, a protest was held in Salmiyeh to support those areas being hit around the city of Homs.

Hassake province,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Daily life in Homs now:

The Syrian military shelled the town of Za’farana killing 5 children. They also e the village of Jandar. A man, from the city of Homs was tortured to death after being detained earlier by regime forces. 3 unidentified civilians were killed in the Syrian military’s shelling of Talbisa. The Syrian military bombarded Houla yesterday.

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Violent clashes are taking place between regime and rebel forces near the town of Heish, in an attempt by regime forces to reach reinforcements to the Wadi al-Dayf base and al-Hamdiya in Reef Ma’arat al-Nu’man.Reports that both sides suffered losses. A defected officer from Idlib province was killed by the clashes in the Saba’ Bahrat area of Aleppo city.

The opposition has tightened its control over the area around Jisr al-Shoughour, but is refraining from attacking for now. The Syrian government still holds Jisr al-Shoughur and the city of Idlib. Jisr al-Shoughour’s villages to the north, west, and east, have all been taken, but to the south of the city, several Alawi villages are loyal to Assad.

The Syrian military has been bombarding the town of Hbeit. The Syrian regime shelled Ma’arat al-N’uman and the village of Bsheiriya. There were clashes in several areas of the southern countryside of Idlib governorate.

Latakia province:,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

The military helicopters are bombarding the towns of al-Maroniyat, al-Mereij and Akko. The Syrian air force bombed Majad Kikha in Jabal Akrad.

Quneitra province:,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Yesterday, violent clashes took place between regular forces and rebel fighters from several divisions at the edge of the north- eastern part of the 17th division, along with the regular forces’ bombardment of that area using a cannon from the sports field of the city. Fighters from al-Nusra front and Ahrar al-Tabqa took hold of the entrances of the Ba’th dam on Sunday night near the al-Mansoura town, west of al-Raqqa city and there were losses on both sides.


Palestinian representatives are being sent by President Mahmoud Abbas to Syria to meet with Syrian officials and try to protect the Palestinian residential areas from being attacked and convince Palestinians to stay out of the conflict. Palestinians have lived in Yarmouk camp in Damascus since 1948. PFLP-GC and other factions have supported Assad’s forces, but some other Palestinians have supported the opposition.
In Lebanon, prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Ali Mamlouk, a top Syrian intelligence official for planning acts of terror in Lebanon as commanded by the Syrian government.
The 56-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference will issue a call for dialogue between the Syrian opposition and those government officials “not involved in oppression,” for the opposition to hasten the formation of a transitional government, and the OIC condemns the massacres of Syrians.
Among Syria’s Creative Figures:

Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.

Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.

Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.”

Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.

Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.

Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.

Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’

Shadi Jamil, great Syrian singer of the Allepine qudud, born in 1955 in Aleppo.

Hamam Khairi, another singer of the Allepine qudud and muwashshahat, a student of Sabah Fakhri and Shaykh Omar al-Batsh.

Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.

Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt, preferring to remain in Syria.

Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris.

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012).’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp.

Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.

Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar.

Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright, born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).

Nabil Maleh, born in Damascus, film director since his first release “The Leopard” 1972, now living in the Gulf.

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution.–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest:

Syria Update, Feb. 2, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

3 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 2, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s deathtoll: More than 130 including 70 civilians.

Syrian leaders of the future, today’s opposition commanders.

Yesterday, the numerous Friday demonstrations used the slogan “The International Community is Assad’s Partner in the Massacres” or here, in Homs, “The United Nations and Assad are Partners in the Crimes Committed in Syria”

and in Kafr Zeita

Refugees and Relief:

The problems with using Syrian government approved agencies to distribute aid are: the past violations (not discussed here), the government’s track record, for ex. providing heat only to its supporters (not discussed here) and SARC’s limited access in certain areas. This author claims that this is not a ‘deal with the devil’ but it may be.

More than 240,000 Syrian refugees are in Lebanon, many without adequate housing.

Opposition: Moaz al-Khatib reiterated his readiness to speak to Assad. He had first announced this on Wednesday.

Aleppo province:,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition fighters seized the area of Shaykh Said in Aleppo, an important conquest as it links the Nayrab airport with the city. They executed the mukhtar of the Sheikh Sa’id neighbourhood of Aleppo after they took over the neighborhood.

rebel battalion interrogating 4 young men and a woman in the Bab al-Nirab neighbourhood of Aleppo city, rebel fighters accuse them of coordinating with security services and the Ba’th party as well as killing a rebel fighter (based on the footage). The battalion said that after 2 days of interrogation with them, the Sharia court sentenced the 4 men to death. Rebel fighters summarily execute the 4 men at the end of the footage.

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

An IED went off, hiting a car in the Ibn A’skar area of al-Shaghour neighborhood in Damascus, injuring 1 man.. Clashes took place between rebel fighters and regular forces in the al-Qadam and the regime forces bombarded this areahe opposition destroyed a tank near the airport today. There was a huge explosion near the al-Mazzeh military airport today.

9 civilians, including 6 children and a woman, were killed by aerial bombardment on the al-Bayad neighborhood of Shab’a town in Damascus province. The Syrian regime forces shelled the towns of Mu’adamiyat al-Sham, Harasta, Hran al-A’wamid, and Daraya. The Syrian air force carried out air raids on the towns and villages of A’dra, al-Midani, and al-Sghiriya . Clashes resulted in the deaths of 4 opposition fighters in A’rbin and Daraya. An unidentified corpse was found in the Daraya city.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Regime forces tortured to death a1man from al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya. The Syrian military bombarded the Lijah area killing 3 men. In clashes with the Syrian regular troops, one opposition fighter was killed in Busr al-Harir.

Deir az-Zur province:,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Demonstrations in Deir az-Zur were held with the slogan “The International community is Assad’s partner in the massacres”

Ahmad Hassan Marwah of the FSA, was killed in a battle to take the technical services building in Al Hawiqeh

Issa Al Mejwel (aged 18) from Al Mu’tassim battalion, killed in a battle in the foothills of (Al Jabal) Deir az-Zur.

Asaad Abdul Majid, of the FSA originally from al-Quriyeh in Deir az-Zur died Turkey of injuries sustained in clashes

Ahmad Najeh al -Aitan al-Abdullah (aged 16) from Buleil was injured during the battle for the liberation of the Political Security building, but died in Turkey on 1/2/13

Today was the 233rd consecutive day of Assad’s forces onslaught on the city of Deir az-Zur and saw severe shelling Regime aircraft carried out raids on al-Hawiqeh, al-Urthi; there were clashes in several areas, and the FSA recaptured the Technical Services building in al-Hawiqeh.

Hama province:,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

1 rebel was killed by clashes in Reef Hama. A man and a woman were killed by the regime bombardment of the town of Latamna. Military airplanes carried out several air raids on the Kafrzeita town in Reef Hama, reports of injuries. Violent clashes took place between rebel and regular forces on the outskirts of the Karnaz town with no reports of human losses.

Syrian opposition in various parts of the country posted memories and notices about the Hama massacre of 1982 whose anniversary is today. For ex. the Homs Network posted:

1982 #Hama:
_Assad’s tanks and cannons destroyed the Old District in Hama, after that they built Om Al Hasan garden over the rubble and blood of the Old City.
_ Hama in 1982 was like a volcano, just billowing smoke and explosions’ sounds.
_ In Hama in 1982 many people couldn’t pull the bodies from the road for four days, many bodies decomposed.

Hassake province,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

2 Syrian Kurdish civilians were killed by a landline planted by the Turkish authorities on the border, the civilians were trying to cross the border from the city of Derbasiya, in order to obtain foods. 1 civilian member of a Kurdish opposition party died of wounds sustained in a clash with the opposition in Ra’s al-`Ain.

Homs province:,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Clashes between the regime and opposition forces resulted in the death of one opposition fighter in Amriya. When the opposition stormed Amriya, they killed 10 civilians, who were accused of being pro-regime. 2 civilians, one of these a child, were killed by the regime bombardment on Rastan.

Idlib province:,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Snipers or deaths from prior wounds killed 3 civilians in Ariha. A child aged 13 from Saraqeb, died of injuries sustained when arms belonging to al-Nusra fighters exploded in a truck.

Raqqa province:,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

In Raqqa, a civil disobedience group has had a campaign to clean up the city.


Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council visited Damascus on Saturday and pledged Iran’s support for Syria in the face of “arrogant” conspiracies. He alluded to Israel’s attack on Syria.
Leaders and defense ministers from NATO countries attended a security conference in Munich, including Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who apparently criticized Russia for supporting Syria, when the two met on the sidelines of the conference. Mouazz al-Khatib and Lakhdar al-Brahimi also attended. Biden said in his speech that the U.S. is ready for talks with Iran.
The Syrian opposition spoke to representatives from Russia and Iran.

Syria and Russia

Q. Why does Russia support the regime of Bashar al-Assad?




Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.

*personal witnessing of alleged communists arrested by the H. al-Assad regime.

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

A. No. (However, some former communists are part of the revolution)