Archive | May, 2013

Syria Update, May 23, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 May

Syria Update May 23, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Monday’s death toll: More than 130, including 44 civilians.

Hizbullah’s actions in Syria may hurt the movement in Lebanon. http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2013/05/lebanon-and-syria

How and why Syria’s Rebels are NOT winning the war. Means vs. ends. Anatomy of a failed offensive in Idlib. Assad loyalists disguise themselves as opposition and massacre the latter. http://world.time.com/2013/05/20/how-syrias-rebels-arent-winning-the-war-the-anatomy-of-a-battle/

The Syrian government decided on a price increase for gas (used as fuel) – however there was an internal dispute over the decision. http://aliqtisadi.com/index.php?mode=article&id=32490

Refugees and Relief:

Palestinian refugees re-displaced http://al-shabaka.org/price-statelessness-palestinian-refugees-syria?page=show

UNHCR’s latest data on Syrian refugees: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=107

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

Intermittent clashes were fought in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood of Aleppo.

A bus was targeted on the Aleppo-Afrin road killing a girl and a child and injuring others. The Syrian air force bombarded Deir Hafer from military helicopters. The regular Syrian military capturedthe village of A’beida village in the countryside outside al-Safira. They are trying to control the village of al-Shahid to ensure military reinforcements can travel between Khanaser and the Ma’amel al-Difa’. In clashes at Minagh military airport, an opposition commander was killed.

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

Damascus – now

Syrian regular forces bombarded the southern areas of Damascus. One member of the pro-regime popular defense committees was killed in clashes with opposition fighters in Barza. In clashes in Jobar, three opposition fighters were killed.

Six opposition fighters were killed by in clashes with the Syrian military in Harasta. In clashes in Daraya, one opposition fighter was killed and one fighter was killed in clashes A’dra. Clashes took place on the outskirts of Beit Sahem, along with regime bombardment on that area. Shells fell on the outskirts of al-Nabek. Opposition fighters killed a lieutenant in the Syrian military in Deir Atiya.

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

A sniper killed a child in the al-Sweidan market of the city of Dar`a on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, a violent explosion shook the area near the sewage pump east of al-Hara, this was targeting a military vehicle. Regular forces bombarded areas in the town of al-Mseifra and areas in the al-Ghariyya al-Sharqiyya. Opposition forces bombarded the police station (branch 27) on the Syrian-Jordanian border with mortar shells. The 15th battalion of Syrian regular forces bombarded the al-Saraya area and town of Barqa. Opposition fighters supported the defection of 3 soldiers from the al-Mjaimer checkpoint in the Busra al-Sham.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the neighbourhoods of al-Hmeidiya and al-Hweiqa in the 344th consecutive day of its military campaign against the city of Deir az-Zur. A rebel fighter from the Hajin town of Reef Deir Izzor was killed in clashes with regular forces in the al-Sina’a neighborhood.

From the Deir az-Zur military airport. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag2149RY2DA&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Syrian regime forces summarily executed 5 men in the town of Halfaya. It was also reported that a family of 5 (a man, his wife and 3 children) were killed.
Regular forces bombarded the town of Kafrnbouda. Mortar shells fell on the town of Aqrab. Clashes broke out between rebel and regular forces near the village of al-Fan village in the eastern part of Hama provice as opposition fighters tried to take over the village.

Hassake province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Twenty young men from the Islamic Movement of Iraq, originally from Halabja city, entered Hassake to pursue jihad (Kurdish sources confirmed this report). Clashes broke out between rebel fighters and jihadists from al-Nusra front yesterday in al-Mahatta in R’as al-`Ain. An opposition commander was killed. Kurdish Defense Committees (YPG) strengthened their forces and military checkpoints in the areas and villages south of Karki Laki (M’abda).

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

40 Hizbullah fighters and 15 shabiha killed in al-Qusayr, yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulUbVixAyE0

The Syrian regular military bombarded al-Qusayr. Clashes took place at the town of Shamsin. There were conflicting reports about the fate of a Lebanese salafi shaykh’s son who was wounded in the clashes in al-Qusayr.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Shari`ah court of Saraqeb sentenced and carried out a public lashing of two civilian men for moral vice. Ahmad al-Ra’i was lashed 50 times for permitting his daughter to be remarried prior to the mandatory `iddah or 3 month waiting period after divorce. The groom was also sentenced to 40 lashes since the marriage is invalidated by the court. Apparently, the court reduced the punishments as a compromise. This occurred a few days ago.

Opposition fighters of the al-Nusra front and other opposition took over the al-Shabiba military camp, near al-Nirab town, and nearby military checkpoints. This followed on two weeks of violent clashes.

Here is the capture of the shabiha camp:

Clashes killed 14 opposition fighters, and at least 40 regular soldiers and members of the Popular Defense committees and destroyed several military vehicles. This camp had been a regime stronghold in Idlib province. It had also been used as a detention center.

Regular forces resumed their bombardment of M’aret Musrin and also shelled the village of al-Kastan. Regular Syrian forces bombarded the village of Mashemshan.

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

Maya Haidar here in an interview about her opposition to the regime, and what it has meant to her personally. Her father killed her mother, on account of her political stance. http://www.sasnews.net/sas/36-interviews/459-they-sent-me-a-message-saying-it-was-shameful-for-me-to-abandon-my-sect

Fierce shelling targeted al-Qastal and Marj Azzawiah on Mt Akrad in rural Latakia on Monday.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A shell fell on the al-Thakna neighborhood of the city of al-Raqqa today, killing a child and a woman. An armed group in the city of al-Raqqah kidnapped Abdullah Khalil, the head of the Raqqah local council, while he was leaving the council headquarters at dawn on Sunday.

The SOHR has denounced this action and demanded that Abdullah Khalil be returned to his family immediately.

Tartous province. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.46865395,d.dmg&biw=1024&bih=633&q=Tartus+governorate+Google+maps&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15217de6195521ad:0x22456cab24b7bb7d,Tartus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&sa=X&ei=KH2dUdqEDu2j4AO27oCoCw&ved=0CC4Q8gEwAA

Assad loyalist militiamen set a civilian vehicle on fire and attacked a resident of Arab Ashataa in rural Tartous.

International:

United Nations is receiving increasing reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war as the violence escalates, a senior UN official said on Wednesday.
“The Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] remains gravely concerned about the allegations of the use of chemical weapons,” Robert Serry, the UN Middle East peace envoy, told the Security Council.

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State was in Amman for the Friends of Syria meeting and urged Assad to commit to peace in a news conference. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/05/22/Friends-of-Syria-to-press-for-peace-talks-in-Jordan-meet.html
Kerry also suggest that more aid could be forthcoming to the opposition if Assad will not agree to a political solution. http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/syria-crisis-idINDEE94L0AJ20130522
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to arm the opposition. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/22/senate-moves-toward-arming-the-syrian-rebels.html
There are 14 dead and more than 100 wounded in Tripoli, Lebanon in the battle between Bab al-Tabanneh and Jabal Mohsen, rival neighborhoods on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict. Clashes continued after efforts at a ceasefire on Wednesday failed. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2013/May-23/218051-tripoli-in-flames-as-truce-proves-elusive.ashx#axzz2U4wlcRqn
Turkey closed the border crossing to Syria at Yayladagi today, which leads into Latakia province. http://www.dw.de/turkey-shuts-border-battle-rages-for-qusair/a-16830302
The Change.org petition – Solidarity with the Syrian Struggle. Sign please. https://www.change.org/petitions/solidarity-with-the-syrian-struggle-for-dignity-and-freedom?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false

Some 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 Zahariya library; 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, May 14, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies, [IMEISS] by Sherifa Zuhu).

15 May

Syria Update May 14, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll:

The SOHR, based on newly-received reports of previously undocumented deaths now estimates the documented casualties since the beginning of the Syrian uprising as being more than 94,000. It estimates the actual # of violent deaths at more than 120,000.

A new Syrian opposition group, the Union of Syrian Democrats has formed, according to media sources, to counter the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the National Council. The leadership includes Michel Kilo, Christian writer and human activist. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/05/14/New-Syrian-opposition-group-formed.html

This video showing a person called “Abu Sakkar” (identified in Time as Khalid al-Hamad) in Homs from the independent Omar al-Farouq brigade eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier has circulated to disgust and criticism. He says “”I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFZBxT7JHZw

Here HRW comments: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/05/13/syria-brigade-fighting-homs-implicated-atrocities

The Syrian National Coalition discuss their efforts to impact the rules of war followed by the Syrian opposition and as shown in videos online. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zrqC6OKLEng

The Assad family’s portrait artist tells people to go ahead and destroy his paintings. http://www.latimes.com/news/columnone/la-fg-syria-artist-20130514-dto,0,5930524.htmlstory?fb_action_ids=10200968829763553&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_ref=s%3DshowShareBarUI%3Ap%3Dfacebook-like&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210200968829763553%22%3A344206152369464%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210200968829763553%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=%7B%2210200968829763553%22%3A%22s%3DshowShareBarUI%3Ap%3Dfacebook-like%22%7D

A tribute to the women of the Syrian revolution here collected by Mohja Kahf.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150591186772016.374857.667627015&type=1

Refugees and Relief:
The ICG’s report on Syrians in Lebanon. http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/egypt-syria-lebanon/lebanon/141-too-close-for-comfort-syrians-in-lebanon.aspx?utm_source=lebanon-syria-report&utm_medium=1&utm_campaign=mremail

Andrew Harper, the UNHCR’s representative to Jordan tweeted that “Last night another 1,314 #syrian @refugees x’d to the safety of #jordan. This incl. over 700 children who have fled the fighting.”
Here you can see the physical enlargement of the Zaatari camp in Jordan. http://reliefweb.int/map/jordan/evolution-al-zaatari-refugee-camp-mafraq-governorate-jordan-14-may-2013

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

Clashes broke out today between opposition fighters from the Ghuraba’ al-Sham battalion and those opposition battalions which follow the Shari’a council (al-Hay’a al-Shari`a) These clashes occurred on the airport road, between Tariq al-Bab and Jabal Badro, and in the souq, after the fighters f the Shari’a council arrived to open the road which provides access to the northern countryside. The Ghuraba’ al-Sham had closed the road in retaliation to the Shar’a council battalions closing up their bases. Tensions also arose between the militias after the Shari’a council detained the leader of Ghuraba’ al-Sham.

The Ghuraba’ al-Sham and the al-Hay’a al-Shar’ia fighters kept on clashing as the Hay’a rebels stormed several houses near of the Ghuraba’ battalion leaders’ bases, using mortar and tank shells. One child was injured by the rebel fighting in Tariq al-Bab.

Tank shell shrapnel killed a rebel in Sheikh Maqsoud. Regime forces based in Sleiman al-Halabi fired a tank shell on the Sakhour neighborhood. Several mortar shells fell on the Bab Qinsreen neighborhood, reports of injuries and houses were damaged. Rocket bombardment injured residents of Kafar Kalbein village. The regime forces bombarded the area around the Mengh military airport, which is surrounded by rebels.

Clashes in the Jeb al-Jebli area resulted in opposition fighters taking some buildings from regime forces a defected officer was killed and there were other casualties on both sides. Several regular soldiers were killed when rebels launched mortar rockets on their position by the al-Hatab square in the al-Jdeeda neighborhood. Clashes took place in the town of Aziza.

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 regime forces hit the Qaboun and Tadamun neighbourhoods with mortars and multiple rocket launchers, several people were injured

In Wadi Barada, the Free Syrian Army responded to the regime forces attack in the village of Efrah. They destroyed three tanks and a Dushka and the SOHR reported that 300 soldiers were killed or injured (this seems a very high number, worth re-checking for accuracy).

The regime forces shelled the Fakhor area and resumed shelling of the orchards around Zabadani and Harasta. There were heavy clashes near the airforce intelligence branch in the town of al-Sabina. Clashes in al-Maliha resulted in the death of one opposition fighters. The regime forces shelled the city of Zabadani. Military helicopters bombarded Yabrud, and the town of Zabdeen was hit as well. Regime forces bombarded al-Nabk and there were clashes near the al-Nabk bridge. One opposition fighter was killed outside of Daraya. Some areas of the eastern Ghouta were heavily bombarded by the Syrian airforce.

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

Raef Mofid Al Masri, a child, killed by regime forces’ shelling of Dara`a.

The regime forces carried out artillery shelling at al-Karak al-Sharki resulting in casualties and injuries.

According to Naharnet, Hizbullah fighters have advanced to Dara`a
http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/82909

The bodies of 4 men were found killed with their hands bound in the al-Bakar area of Yarmouk valley. The regime forces shelled towns of al-Herak and Da’el.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

On Monday
Farouq Al-Hama of the FSA was killed during clashes at Deir Ezzor Military Airport

The regime forces shelled the city of Deir az-Zur with artillery and missiles in these areas: al-Urthi, al-Jbeili, Sheikh Yasin, al-Omal and Hawiqeh.





Smoke rising from the State Security building.

The regime forces shelled the city of Mouhassan with artillery fire from Deir Ezzor military airport (also on Monday).

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Syrian regime forces attacked al-Furiya village. They burned down houses, causing the residents to flee. Regime forces stormed houses in the Manakh neighbourhood of the city of Hama. Clashes continue in eastern part of Hama province between armed men from the al-Zeghba village and regime forces. The airforce also bombed the area. 1 rebel was killed in clashes yesterday (Monday) in Helfaya. Bombardment was resumed on Helfaya on Tuesday.

Hassake province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Regime forces stationed in the Qamishli airport bombarded several surrounding villages with multiple rocket launchers. Several rockets fell on the village of Khirbet Hatem.

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

At Bustan al-Qasr a nighttime demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=naqsDGk9Jj8

In the Qusayr area, the regime troops captured three villages.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2013/may/14/syria-middle-east-troops-qusayr-homs

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 occurred around the Qarmid and Shabiba military camps. The regime forces bombarded the Jabal Arb’een area and the villages of Bzaboor and Ma’arbleet.

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

Seven civilians were killed as they ran to Salma seeking safety.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A demonstration in Raqqa this evening http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dORbUcF9JCY&feature=youtu.be
In the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State in Iraq and Bilad al-Sham summarily executed three officers of the Syrian army. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=369179069857104&set=a.150495128392167.28686.121855461256134&type=1&theater

Tartous province.
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=tartous+syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15217e77890fb9a3:0xa072a491096e24b,Tartus%E2%80%8E,+Syria&gl=us&ei=LvGSUYanIc-n4APeo4H4Dg&sqi=2&ved=0CKABELYD

In Tartous, Omar lost count of the bodies after 46.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/world/middleeast/grisly-killings-in-syrian-towns-dim-hopes-for-peace-talks.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

International:

Russia and the United States plan talks on Syria which have been pushed ahead to June. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/us-russia-plan-for-syria-talks-slipping-to-june

The Jordanian foreign ministry announced that Jordan will host “Friends of Syria” meetings next week. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/05/14/Jordan-to-host-Friends-Of-Syria-next-week-ministry-says.html

Britain and France have postponed a Syrian request that the United Nations designate the al-Nusra Front a terrorist group because Britain and France want the group to be listed as an alias of al-Qaeda, diplomats said on Tuesday.
The death toll from twin car bombings in Reyhanli has risen to 51. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the idea of a Syrian-Turish investigation into the bombings. He said: “The administration in power in Damascus is illegal … how can we recognize a structure that isn’t even recognized by its own citizens.” Erdogan will meet U.S President Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday.

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).
http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’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. 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

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

8 May

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

Monday’s death toll: 130 Syrians were killed yesterday including 37 civilians, 48 opposition fighters, and 29 regular soldiers

Internet connections in Syria were cut off today. Many websites were unreachable. It is thought that the government has initiated the shut-down.

Syria’s Children: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfqT3ioJ02g

Anthony Cordesman of CSIS discusses Syria’s air defense capabilities in light of Israel’s recent attacks.
http://csis.org/publication/syrias-uncertain-air-defense-capabilities

Video of the Israeli airstrikes on Syria http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/06/astonishing-video-from-the-israeli-air-strikes-on-syria/

Here a commander speaks about the need to cleanse Baniyas of the Sunnis who support the revolution . Note the shaykh seated to his left. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjF1r7VzcHA&feature=youtu.be

Important report on religious freedom in Syria in light of the conflict.
http://www.uscirf.gov/images/Syria%20Report%20April%202013(1).pdf

Refugees and Relief:
The UN Humanitarian office said the number of internally-displaced Syrians has reached 4.25 million. The numbers doubled over last month.

Riots take place and there are attacks on FSA members by the Syrian mukhabarat in the Syrian refugee camp, Zaatari in Jordan. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/zaataris-mukhabarrat-wars

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A number of local councils demonstrated peacefully in Masaken Hanano to denounce the silence of the Arab world on the crisis in Syria.

Regime forces targeted Azaz and Menagh airports with heavy machine gun fire today.
A man from the town of al-Zbadiya was killed Monday. The Syrian regime bombarded the market of the town of Safira Monday killing a child, 2 men and one unidentified man.

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 
FSA shelled the Division 67 at al-Qalamun with a cannon 106. Morsed Seydnaya is now under FSA control – ammunition there includes a cannon 23 mm http://youtu.be/k26UaAtmckohttp://youtu.be/nq40PWBE-http://youtu.be/tRtoEnNNi-A
Heavy clashes took place at Masken Najha near Division 58 where officers, security forces and shabbiha were staying, burning a large part of it and which killed many inside with rockets. http://youtu.be/xtWXFFD94Jk

At Al Abbasiyeen, in Damascus, a sniper unit killed two of Assad’s shabbiha http://youtu.be/nuUg4vSrpvE who had been targetting d cars at the Al Qabun Highway.http://youtu.be/Msr6bm9EY4c

Two mortars were launched into the Qudseyya suburb this morning. Regime shelling of Darayya killed two rebels and there were clashes in the town of Hazarma. In clashes between regime forces and opposition in Douma, three rebels were killed. Douma was shelled with mortars. The regime forces bombarded the town of Adra near the 14th military base.

The opposition launched a rocket into the Mezzeh 86 neighborhood where there are security and shabiha enclaves http://youtu.be/-CqbFKNo8vo
(and which is inhabited by civilians from the Syrian coast (Alawites)). Regime forces bombarded the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods. In Barzeh, clashes took place from late last night.

Violent clashes occurred near the town of Beit Sahm and there was heavy artillery bombardment on that town.

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

Opposition fighters in the Golan Heights abducted four UN peacekeepers from the Philippines according to Josephine Guerrero of the U.N. The four were patrolling near the al-Jamlah locality in the ceasefire zone between Israel and Syria just where 21 Filipino peacekeepers were seized by Syrian rebels in March. The opposition claimed they were trying to protect the UNDOF peacekeepers from clashes and said they would soon release them.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

On Monday (the 6th) 2 civilians and a rebel fighter were killed. 2 men were shot to death near entrances to the city of Deir az-Zur.

The Assad government carried out its 326th consecutive day of military attacks on the city of Deir az-Zur on May 5th

Adham Jasem Nayef Al-Jneid, an FSA member was killed in clashes in the neighborhood of as-Sina`a in Deir az-Zur.

A sniper (Assad-loyalist) killed Samer Nabeel Al-Furati, 22 years old in As-Sina`a in Deir az-Zur.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Marrat killing Heba Turki al-Hammadi; a young girl, as well as Ibrahim Turki al-Hammadi (a young boy) and Rahaf Turki al-Hammadi.

A regime sniper killed Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim, 18 years old at the Death passageway in Deir az-Zur

Recently “documented” martyrs.

Ammar Saleh Al-Hosson died in the regime shelling of HamidiyYa neighborhood, 2-5-2013

A sniper killed Hammadi Khalaf Al-Hussein, FSA member from Al-H’sainiyeh village. He was killed in Rushdiyya in Deir az-Zur (4-5-2013)

In clashes with the regime military, Oudai Abboud Al-Khalaf, a 27 year old FSA member was killed in as-Sina`a 4-5-2013.

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Syrian troops carried out a series of raids and arbitrary arrests in the al-Hmeidiya neighbourhood and there were summary executions in the area on Monday. The Syrian military shelled the town of A’rfa (on Monday). Clashes took place between regular and rebel forces in the al-Baroudiya neighborhood of the city of Hama with casualties. The Syrian air forces bombardment of Kafrzeita killed two men from Tibet al-Imam.

The regime shelling on Aleppo Way in Hama leaves smoke

Hassake province
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Regular forces bombarded the village of Kherba. An IED exploded in al-Wahda street of al-Qameshli on Monday.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The pro-regime Hezbollah popular defense committees clashed with opposition fighters near al-Sloumiya. There were reports of casualties on both sides. Regular forces shelled the fields outside the al-Wa’er neighborhood on Monday and caused injuries.

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

Regular forces shelled Taftanaz and M’artmasrin on Monday.

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

Syrian regime forces killed two Jordanian fighters and several Saudi Arabian snipers in their operations against the opposition in Salmeh, Tartiah, Kafar Dalbeh, al-Dareh, and Borj al-Ahrash where the Saudi fighter, Mash’al al-Saleh was killed. http://www.islamicinvitationturkey.com/2013/05/07/syrian-troops-kill-several-saudi-jordanian-terrorists-in-outskirts-of-latakia/

Here, bombs explode that had been dropped by aircraft in Salma.

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

Eighteen opposition fighers were killed in clashes with regular forces in al-Quneitra. (Four of the fighters were from Jasem in Dara’a, five from Inkhel, two from Nemr 1 from al-Hara, 2 from Samlin, 1 from Zamrin and 3 from the Kafr Shams)

Violent clashes took place in the town of Ghadir al-Bustan, in the liberated Golan territories, between rebel and regime forces. Regime forces are bombarding parts of Ghadir al-Bustan, Qarqas and al-Hiran. Oposition fighters reportedly took over he 2nd company, the 23rd and 29th battalions and the security branch in Kodna. The opposition targeted the 61st brigade’s checkpoints in the area.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes with regular forces near the al-Tabaqa military airport yesterday.

Tartous province https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=tartous+syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15217e77890fb9a3:0xa072a491096e24b,Tartus%E2%80%8E,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_WuJUZnrLK664APwrIGwDg&sqi=2&ved=0CKQBELYD

The city of Tartous and surrounding areas are calm and the regime forces are no longer carrying out detentions and raids. Two massacres were committed in the area: in the Ras al-Nabe’ neighbourhood of Banias and in the village of al-Beyda killing about 80 persons including many children. Hundreds fled the coastal areas after the massacres. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-05/hundreds-flee-amid-reports-of-syria-massacres/4670066

Here is the commander of the Baniyas operation discussing his goals

International:

Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister met with President Assad on Tuesday and said it was time to dissuade Israel from any further attacks on Syria.

A press conference was held in Amman with Nasser Judeh and Ali Akbar Salehi of Iran who said “We refuse any solution forced from outside. We are against any foreign intervention in Syria. We have seen what has happened in some countries, which I will not name,
after they faced foreign intervention. We don’t want history to repeat itself in Syria… Israel would not dare to attack Iran, you can be sure of that. However we are ready for any worse case scenarios, but at the same time, we are sure that Israel would not undertake such an operation.” Judeh claimed there are no foreign troops in Jordan.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan called Israeli air strikes on Syria unacceptable but also said the strikes give Assad an opportunity to cover up the massacre of civilians at Baniyas. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/05/07/Turkey-PM-says-Israeli-air-strik
John Kerry, US. Secretary of State began talks in Russia with President Vladimir Putin on Syria today, seeking “common ground” with Russia. Russia said it will act to maintain stability in Syria. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/05/20135716287710849.html
Lady My Friend, Being Arab Tires Me 

(popularly called the “Green Land of Tunisia” poem)

By NIZAR KABBANI, 1980
(translated by Mohja Kahf)

Green land of Tunisia, here I come, a lover,
bearing with me book and rose.
Carthage, here comes to you the Damascene
who takes love as a calling. Where he goes,
boughs bud at his beckon and bloom green.

Damascus’ moon and domes and wheat
and songbirds go with me wherever I go.
Water has its beginning in my hometown;
wherever you lean your head, you hear it flowing.
Poetry’s a little bird that wings around Damascus,
well-met by poets who rise quickly to respond.

White jasmine started in Damascus too,
and so did Time. My townfolk
worship Beauty; it melts them,
and they melt it. Thus, Love happened first
in Damascus. So did the horse gallop
from Damascus first to victory. In Damascus,
ancient languages and lineages live. It is Damascus
gives meaning to the name of Arab.

Sea nymphs of Carthage, riverbeds run dry
and, though there should be no turning back from love,
old friends are gone, and paths divided; why?

Where now are the women who love like they pray?
I have forgotten not one woman’s name,
not one woman’s breasts.

Some wore my poems and my tears,
some loved, and some mistrusted me.
I loved them all, and now I am betrayed.

Shall I take them to account? A man
can never win with women by account.
I don’t repent my having loved—I cannot stand
the silly scene of lovers going around
repenting of their love.

Now we come to it: the night’s festivities.
Am I supposed to rhyme on demand?
Am I the palace singer with no clothes?
My tongue can’t find my tongue,
my mouth is full of stones. Carthage!
Where does a poem come from, you suppose,
when God is dead, and charlatans are lords?
Tyrannized by day, we’re terrorized by night.
Our breadloaves smell of state surveillance.
They pull apart our phrases, and our fingers from our hands.
With what is a writer left to write?

Poetry comes not just from the pen;
it comes from underneath the eyelids,
from the vision. But poets
of today are some third sex: they speak
not Arabic, not speech of foreign lands,
their syntax jumbled and their words a fog.
They blab into a void to nobody;
they buzz, so many flies
on the mere surface of the wine, while those
to whom writing is a fire
and they are wood and match, and burn their lives in it,
and give us joy, get no reward. Whores
and thugs wear silks, and leave the writers rags.

Lady my friend, being Arab tires me
The map has made exiles of us all.
The state of our nation is a joke.

In clear Arabic I call my tribe and call—
no one answers. If not for their robes,
I would not think our leaders Arab folk at all.
They kiss-kiss, by Arab way of greeting,
but behind each other’s necks, their fangs are bared.

Carthage, shall we raise a toast to our downfall?
The cup cannot hold enough drink
to bring me to enough oblivion.

From Fertile Crescent to North Africa, we’re cursed:
dictatorships, police states, guard patrols.
We fight amongst ourselves with daggers thrust,
and over what? Some dried-up pits of dates.
It’s all the same, with or without the oil.
Our leaders seem to stash it in their balls
to piss away while people bleed and toil.

Green land of Tunisia, what will save us?
There are no holy books left in the land.
All the caliph’s horses have dropped dead—
of embarrassment. High honor’s a mirage
melting on the Arab sand.

Lady my friend, being Arab wears me down.
The edges of my wound are riverbanks.
So if I scream at those I love in these our times,
it is to wake up love and all the lovers.

And if I call the Arab world a darkened pit,
it is a world I live in and would light.
If I rage at Arab chiefs it is so that
they may yet find some spark inside those robes.

Oh Carthage, Carthage, Carthage,
can I ever hope now to return to your bosom?

Do not hate my passion,
for passion is my nature,
and God, Glorious be His Glory,
doth pardon all the sins of poetry.

On “Hearsay” vs. Casualties – Sherifa Zuhur

6 May

Yes, the Israeli airstrikes deserve some extended comment but they may not signal that further military intervention is forthcoming.
But first I want to address the issue of casualties and their accuracy.

Recently, an old friend commented on my feed that reports of Syrians killed were “hearsay.” I found that terribly insulting and misleading, as I’ve been following casualties by governorate on a daily basis since the SOHR and the LCCs and other news outlets began reporting them and issued daily reports from July of last year. I gave up issuing daily reports this spring (because not enough people read them, they’re time-consuming to write, & I have other responsibilities) and moved to weekly ones. I am careful to report “unconfirmed” or “conflicting” per casualties, but please, “old friends” let’s not confuse SANA or Press TV with accurate reports of deaths in Syria.

For ex. there are currently unconfirmed reports of about two thousand people killed in the Israeli airstrikes of Sunday, May 05, 2013. In the Syria Updates, when I include “8 deaths including 2 children” per LCC identified dead, these can be taken as “confirmed,” – even though in some cases, even more people were killed. The 70,000 est. of Syrian dead is now low.

The following type of detailed report gives a Facebook link (to memorialize the person) or sometimes a video and these identified deaths are confirmed. Here’s an example of info. from the Deir Press which includes such details (They are sometimes difficult to read in the original, so I clean up the grammar and the Press separates “martyrs” from “recently documented martyrs” [meaning they were recently identified, but may not have been killed yesterday]).

Deaths on May 05, 2013 as the Assad government carried out its 326th consecutive day of military attacks on the city of Deir az-Zur.

Adham Jasem Nayef Al-Jneid, an FSA member was killed in clashes in the neighborhood of as-Sina`a in Deir az-Zur.

A sniper (Assad-loyalist) killed Samer Nabeel Al-Furati, 22 years old in As-Sina`a in Deir az-Zur.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Marrat killing Heba Turki al-Hammadi; a young girl, as well as Ibrahim Turki al-Hammadi (a young boy) and Rahaf Turki al-Hammadi.

A regime sniper killed Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim, 18 years old at the Death passageway in Deir az-Zur

Recently “documented” martyrs.

Ammar Saleh Al-Hosson died in the regime shelling of HamidiyYa neighborhood, 2-5-2013

A sniper killed Hammadi Khalaf Al-Hussein, FSA member from Al-H’sainiyeh village. He was killed in Rushdiyya in Deir az-Zur (4-5-2013)

In clashes with the regime military, Oudai Abboud Al-Khalaf, a 27 year old FSA member was killed in as-Sina`a 4-5-2013.

THIS IS NOT HEARSAY, THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

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

3 May

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

Hizbullah acknowledges that it stands with President Assad and against the revolution. http://www.theworld.org/2013/05/hezbollah-comes-clean-it-stands-with-syrian-government/

The Telegraph sensationalizes the issue of chemical weapons and the presence of al-Qa’ida in Syria (assuming they mean Jabhat al-Nusra or other groups).
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10022753/Syria-Al-Qaedas-battle-for-control-of-Assads-chemical-weapons-plant.html

Important report on religious freedom in Syria in light of the conflict.
http://www.uscirf.gov/images/Syria%20Report%20April%202013(1).pdf

Refugees and Relief:

Former footballer, Martin Keown visited Zaatari refugee camp to open a Save the Children soccer field there. http://en.arabstoday.net/20130502284738/former-english-footballer-helps-refugees-in-jordan.html

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition fighters took over the Engineer Brigade base today.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Clashes broke out in Yarmouk camp after a mortar shell fell near the police department in the camp. The Syrian military bombarded areas of the Jobar neighborhood. The opposition targeted one of the Defense plants in Qadam and then clashes resulted with mortars in use.

Mortar shells launched at Jaramana injured 10 civilians in the morning. The regime forces bombarded parts of the eastern Ghouta.

An explosion in Marjeh killed 14 civilians on the 30th of April. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STW_uUWmLi0

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

Opposition fighters seized a key air base today and also control of about 25 km. of the border near the Golan Heights. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/2013/03/23/Syrian-opposition-fighters-seize-key-military-base-in-Deraa.html

Yesterday, violent clashes were fought on the edges of al-Katiba and the town of al-Na’ima was bombarded.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The suspended bridge into Deir az-Zur was partially (or mostly) destroyed today. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=410755452364905&set=a.328886440551807.77931.324869057620212&type=1&theater

Regime bombardment continues on several parts of Deir Ezzour city. Regime forces killed an opposition fighter; his body was found mutilated by the science faculty. Clashes took place in the al-Jbeila neighborhood. The Syrian regime also bombarded the village of al-Huseiniya and the village of Shaqra, in the western countryside, with artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

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

Gunfire was reported in the Tariq Halab neighborhood near the post office. Regime forces systematically destroyed houses in the Masha Wadi al-Jawz neighborhood of Hama, which is populated by more than 15 thousand people. A regime sniper killed a woman from al-Qusoor as she attempted to leave the Masha Wadi al-Jawz neighborhood.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The regime forces bombarded parts of the city of al-Houla. Explosions were heard within the city. Regime forces continued bombardment of the city of Talbisa. Clashes took place in the Joussiyeh area in Reef al-Qseir between rebels and regime forces, as well as members of the Popular Committees of the area, who are linked to Hizbullah. It was also reported that Hizbullah forces tried to storm the city of Joussiyeh near the border and clashed with the opposition there.

Opposition fighters had earlier shelled the Popular Committee held areas. Regime forces bombarded the city of Rastan with heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The state media said that the opposition had exposed people to a deadly “liquid” stored by a shepherd which killed him and his children. As state news tends to accuse the opposition of claims made against it, this seems to be part of its defense against charges of using chemical weapons. http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/778728/Syria-accuses-rebels-of-exposing-people-to-unknown-liquid-in-Idlib.aspx

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

The Syrian regime shelled the town of Arrabeeah today.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military shelled Raqqa with explosive barrels killing at least 8.

Tartous province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=tartous+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15217de6195521ad:0x22456cab24b7bb7d,Tartus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=1rCCUcGwO7in4APCt4D4CQ&ved=0CIkBELYD

Outside of the city of Banias area, there are reports of summary executions being committed by regime forces and pro-regime gunmen (shabiha) in the village of al-Bayda and that “dozens” have been killed. Regime forces carried out a raid and detained 8 civilians, including 2 children, after storming the village and shelling it with mortars. Clashes had previously taken place there killing 6 regime troops and injuring at least 20 others (opposition deaths unreported).

The regime forces bombarded the Ras al-Rifa area of the city of Banias. Gunfire was heard regime forces and shabiha began firing from their posts on the southern neighbourhoods of Banias, which are home to a Sunni population. This area was the site of sectarian violence in May of 2011 and many young men were detained in August of 2011 (some have disappeared and some are still in detention).

International:

A Turkish security official was killed and Turkish security officials and civilians were wounded in a border buffer zone when Syrians trying to cross over into Turkey opened fire after the Turkish security forces warned the Syrians, according to Abdulhakim Ayhan who is the mayor of Akcakale. The Syrians were allegedly smugglers.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League special envoy will probably stay on only until mid-May.

US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel said the US is reconsidering arming the Syrian opposition. He said he had not made a personal decision. At the same news conference, UK Defense Secretary, Philip Hammond said the UK is not ruling out arming the opposition. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/us-arming-syria-rebels_n_3202911.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Here, Palestinian refugees from Syria speak out. http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/palestinian-refugess-syria.html/comment-page-1
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.