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.

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