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. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/world/middleeast/syria-assad.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0
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. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130204/violence-follows-women-children-beyond-syria
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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
The Syrian 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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
The Syrian military 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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
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:
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.
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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD
Heavy clashes 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.
Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA
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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
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.
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: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA
Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/feb/05/ml-lebanon-syria/
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.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/
Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.
Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.
Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.
Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.
Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850
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. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297
Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012).
Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584
Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.
Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.
Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie
Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright, born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).
Nabil Maleh, born in Damascus, film director since his first release “The Leopard” 1972, now living in the Gulf. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/9845/a-leopard-in-winter_an-interview-with-syrian-direc
Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx
George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.
Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.
Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest