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.

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