Archive | June, 2013

The Mossad Breaches Egypt’s Sovereignty — and Morsy Lets Them.

28 Jun

I received shocking news this evening.

I was not dead-set against the Freedom and Justice party from the outset as I believed the Muslim Brotherhood played an important role in the opposition to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and to the degree that people identify with them — and they deliver — they would no doubt be part of the new government. Some know that I did my initial academic research on the Muslim Brotherhood, so I know the organization rather well since the 1980s. At first, I believed the Morsi government’s complaints that liberals were stubborn and wouldn’t play ball, but realized since Morsi’s victory last June they see politics as a zero-sum game, not one of inclusion. The battle over the Constitution was not the only issue.

I had noticed some of the comments by such anti-Islamist sources as the Angry Arab who warned that Islamists would sell out Palestine so to speak. There are those who are pro-peace but also pro-justice – yet, Palestine in the sense of Bayt al-Maqdis receives attention by the international Muslim community & Islamists among them. I have heard more direct hints from some Iraqis – who shockingly (to me) said they’d be happy not to bother with Palestine in order to keep the U.S. happy. But these individuals had no ties to Islamists.

All of a sudden, I am concerned about the price that the MB in power in Egypt are willing to pay. And the ideas above of selling out Egypt’s sovereignty no longer sound wild or doctrinaire.

While we’ve all been preoccupied with Morsi’s oratorical skills (or lack thereof) and Tamarod (Rebel’s) campaign & the fate of the electoral process in Egypt, Israel’s MOSSAD has gone inside of the Egyptian border and kidnapped a Palestinian from Gaza. Wael Abu Rida is affiliated with the al-Aqsa Defenders (so that’s why Hamas may not have reacted) and used with Islamic Jihad, but is no longer. He was kidnapped because he was trying to get medical treatment for his wife. He is a jihadist, but not a Nazi, and no court has condemned him – except perhaps the Mossad’s secret tribunals.

Do you think for one minute the Mossad carried out their mission without the full knowledge of Egyptian intelligence, the highest authorities and specifically the Ministries of the Interior and Defense? Or did these agencies assist the Mossad?

And what would Egypt’s not-always-so-silent majority think about this matter? Is the Sinai sovereign Egyptian soil? Or not so much, or not always? Will Israel carry out other abductions under the Morsi government? What does this mean for the Morsi government’s commitment to the rights of Palestinians in Gaza?

Not one word has been published (yet) about the affair in the Egyptian press and only this the Arab press (
) It’s only circulated on Twitter since about 8:15 EST. And with the new crackdowns expected by the Morsi government, I’m very grateful for the understanding and interest of my Egyptian friends who hold dear their sovereignty and are all working so hard toward a better future.

Other governments have aided the Mossad – the Ukrainian security services were part of the abduction of Palestinian Dirar Abusisi two years ago. ( Novel after novel by Daniel Silva romanticize the Mossad and its cooperation with European security services and U.S. agencies.

As the one intrepid Jewish activist who is opposed to extralegal activities of Israeli national security (Richard Silverstein) and who reported the kidnapping has mentioned, the Ukraine obtained new trade and visa agreements shortly after the Abusisi affair.

So what is the Morsi government going to receive for this cooperation on Egyptian soil? (Which is probably known as well to the U.S. intelligence, but it has been hushed up inside of Israel). It is a violation of the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Worst of all, it makes the Egyptian government appear to be a dupe, a push-over to Israel and a horrible hypocrite with all of its assertions of commitment to justice for the Palestinians.


Syria Update, June 21, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

21 Jun

Syria Update, June 21, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Yesterday’s death toll: 190 people were killed yesterday in Syria including 50 civilians.

France has delivered medical aid to Syria including an antidote for nerve gas.

Syrians protested all over the country today against the Assad regime as they have every Friday for months:

Protest in Latamneh today:

Demonstration in Kafranbel, Syria

Protest in Darayya today

Protest in Mayadeen, Deir az-Zur.

Refugees and Relief:

451 refugees or roughly 100 families fled the violence in Syria last night to Jordan.

Double displacement of Palestinians in Syria.

Angelina Jolie tries to draw attention to Syrian refugees:

Syrian refugees and World Refugee Day: Present and future needs of refugees.

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

Regime warplanes equipped with large caliber machine guns are bombarding in the vicinity of Kwairis military air base. Clashes took place there at dawn.

Iyad al-Halabi, a citizen-journalist and member of Aleppo News was killed while covering clashes in al-Sakhour.

Overnight clashes took place in the village of Deir Ballout, in the Atma area, between the YPG and an opposition militia that includes non-Syrian fighters. These clashes resulted in the death of 2 YPG fighters; and three opposition fighters. The Syrian air force bombardment of the city of Manbaj killed three civilians. Pro-regime gunmen killed three civilians from Khanaser near al-Sfeira.
The opposition targeted regime positions in eastern Rif Aleppo, in Mathanat Shegheib and Dweirina. The regime forces bombarded the city of al-Sfeira. Several mines exploded as a military motorcade left the town of Khanaser town towards the al-Bouz exit, no reports of casualties.

Regime forces bombarded the Sheikh Maqsoud and al-Meyser neighborhoods overnight. Several rockets hit the neighborhood of Ashrafiya and al-Neel street. Sseveral people were injured on al-Neel. Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes in the neighborhood of Sleiman al-Halabi.
The SOHR urged the ICRC to go the Aleppo Central Prison where conditions have deteriorated. Three prisoners died of tuberculosis yesterday, there is a severe lack of food and medicine, and an outbreak of scabies.
More than 100 prisoners died in the prison since April 2013. The opposition began an offensive toward the prison saying it would free the prisoners then. It took control of surrounding areas which cut off the supply routes to the prison, and then took over nearby buildings on May 2, 2013. A suicide bomb on May 23, 2013 caused the regime forces to retreat into the buildings.

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

A woman was killed by regime forces bombardment in al-Qaboun – the heavy shelling caused a massive explosion earlier in the day. The regime forces may have used a surface-to-surface missile on that neighborhood where two men died of their wounds from the continuous bombardment; the regime has been trying to storm al-Qaboun for three days.

A mortar hit in Yalda, near al-Uroba street. The opposition targeted the Jabe’din regime checkpoint with mortars and sniper fire, reportedly causing casualties and damaging some military vehicles. 1 opposition died after clashes in Darayya. The regime forces bombarded areas of Erbin, Douma, the orchards al-Maliha, and the eastern Ghouta towns and villages.

The regime forces bombarded the area between the Qaboun neighbourhood and the city of Erbin city, by the south ring road, with rockets. Clashes continued there and the opposition destroyed a tank.

Clashes took place after midnight in the orchards of the Barzeh neighburhood, with reports of losses on both sides.

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

Regime forces have launched fierce rocket and heavy artillery shelling on Tariq Assed district, the Refugee Camp in Dar’aa al-Mattah and several districts in Dar’aa al-Balad. Clashes took place at dawn near the Bina’ al-shabab checkpoint in Dara`a al-Balad. An explosion rocked the town of Busra al-Sham after midnight, reports indicate that it was an attack on a regime position. A car-bomb exploded in the village of Alqin mainly inhabited by Alawi and Murshidi civilians. It injured 10 civilians.

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

Regime heavy artillery shelling on al-Hamidiyyah and Shaikh Yaseen

Clashes took place in the al-Resafa neighborhood, and the regime air force bombarded it and also the Hamidiya, Rushdiya, al-Jbeila and al-Matar al-Qadim neighborhoods of Deir az-Zur in the 372nd day of its siege of the city. One opposition fighter was killed by clashes in al-Jbeila.

On Thursday, the following were killed: Tawfiq Sulaiman Almonawer

Saad Ibrahim Al-Alusi; Hassan Obaid Al-Hussein

Mohammed Shaher Hussein

Ammar Abdul-Razzaq al-Hayes; Ahmed Ghallab Al-Abdan; Mahmoud Ali Hassoun

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

Clashes took place between regime forces and opposition fighters, near the village of Qasr Ibn Wardan in eastern Rif Hama with casualties on both sides.

10 dead Syrian troops were discovered near the town of Mas`ud in two caves and house where regime forces had buried them.

Regime forces stormed the village of Soha in eastern Rif Hama, and burned many houses.

Opposition fighters launched several rockets on the 66th battalion in eastern Rif Hama. The regime forces bombarded areas in the town of Qastoun.

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

Demonstration in al-Qamishli on 21 June, 2013:

Demonstration in Amuda on 19 June, 2013:

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

Eight civilians including a woman from the city of Hama were summarily executed by a pro-regime “people’s committee” in the Hola area of Homs province as they returned from Lebanon. The city of al-Rastan and the Hola area of Reef Homs were bombarded by regime forces.

Civilians held protests in al-Fardus street and from al-Omari mosque, demanding the fall of the regime at all costs.

The al- Omari mosque protest:

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

The town of Ihsim in Reef Idlib is under bombardment by mortar. Regime forces bombarded the periphery of the town of al-Bara, and the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Regime forces bombarded Ma’arat Masrin, Mseibin, Habit, Ma’asran and Kurin over the night (from Thursday into Friday). Heavy shelling on Kurin tonight as well. Regime forces also bombarded Kafarsajna.

Sign in Kafranbel.

Friday demonstration in Bennish:

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

Regime forces bombarded the town of Salma.

This video shows regime shelling of villages in Latakia:

Unconfirmed reports by regime-funded sources that opposition troops had been killed in towns of Talla, Shahroora and al-Sukkariyya, listing the dead and calling them “rats” and “rodents.”

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

Yesterday, regime warplanes attacked the National Hospital in al-Raqqa.

Complaints against Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Raqqa on 6/18.

Women continued their sit-in against Jabhat al-Nusra on 6/19

Tartous province.,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

Regime forces raided homes in al-Bayda on Wednesday and Thursday. The bodies of two young men from al-Bayda who had been tortured to death were returned to their families there.


U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry has traveled to Qatar to discuss aid to the Syrian opposition with the Friends of Syria.

Jordanians demonstrated against Assad and Hizbullah in Amman.

Two brothers from east London denied kidnapping journalists in Syria:

The Philippines may pull its peacekeepers out of the Golan Heights.

The Lebanese army sealed off the area near Parliament after Syria-related demonstrations became violent on Thursday night. Demonstrators opposed a decision to postpone parliamentary elections. The new Lebanese government has been unable to form because of divisions over Syria.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia will sell Syria S-300 missiles as promised.

Spanish authorities arrested eight people in Ceuta suspected of recruiting fighters to jihad in Syria.

Appendix: Some information on the Murshdis of Syria, a sub-sect of the Alawis:;jsessionid=76BA911E3A427F7BFE23EE071FB7AA48.d01t03?v=1&t=hi7r5ywe&s=89bda5d6d4c7eff8493ba6cb547c1e69052ab301

UNESCO put six Syrian sites on its endangered World Heritage list: Damascus, Bosra, the oasis of Palmyra, the castles of Qal`at Salahaddin and Crac des Chevaliers, and the ancient villages of northern Syria:

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, June 16, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

17 Jun

Syria Update June 16, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll:  140 including 52 civilians.

U.S. military proposal calls for a no-fly zone inside Syria to be enforced from Jordan.

The Syrian opposition fought Hizbullah brigades loyal to Bashar al-Assad on Sunday, in Aleppo, trying to take back territory lost to the regime forces.

Refugees and Relief:

Canada pledged 25 million Canadian dollars to aid Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Michel Platini, the president of European football’s UEFA toured the Zaatari camp and pledged to help Syrian refugees.

Will the United States allow more Syrian refugees to be resettled in

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

As explained above, the Syrian regime forces and Hizbullah fighters battled the opposition in Aleppo today as the latter attempted to re-seize territory.

The body of a civilian from the town of A’zaz was found in a well in the Ard al-Hamra neighbourhood, having been tortured and shot. A mortar shell fell on the Qadi Askar neighborhood. Clashes took place in the Ashrafiya neighborhood.

2 men from the city of al-Sfeira were killed and regime forces bombarded al-Sfeira. Regime forces used fighter jets with machine guns on the town of Tel Rif’at. Clashes took place between opposition and regime forces, with support from the Popular Committee militia from the towns of Nubul and al-Zahra’. Clashes in Jabal Shweina killed one opposition fighter from Qubtan. Regime forces targeted and burned the farmland near Anadan.

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

20 regular soldiers were reportedly killed or wounded in an explosion targeting a military checkpoint near the Mazza military airport. This video shows the explosion at Mezzeh (it may or may not load):

Regime forces bombarded areas in the Jobar neighborhood and clashes occurred there.

Opposition fighters from the Barza neighborhood targeted A’sh al-Warwar. At least 20 regular soldiers were killed in clashes in the southern neighborhoods. 1 child was killed and others when IED that had been planted by the sand barrier by the al-Madrasa part of Yarmouk camp exploded. Regime forces shelled the Yarmouk camp at dawn, and clashes were fought near the camp’s entrance.. 2 mortar rockets fell on the al-Bawaba al-Qariba in the Midan neighborhood.

Clashes took place on the Damascus-Dar`a highway near al-Qadam in which 2 opposition fighters were killed, a tank was destroyed and there were also losses by regime forces. Regime forces opened fire with machine-guns on the orchards of Barzeh.

Regime bombardment on Erbin killed three children and the rest of their family were injured. Regime forces blew up and destroyed homes on the western side of city of Harasta, near the highway. Regime forces bombarded areas of Bebila, al-Sabina, Hazza, Mou’adamiya, Yalda, towns, southern and western areas of Darayya, the Ahmadiya area, and the road linking Kafarbatna and Hazza. Regime forces bombarded areas in Beit Sahm and there were clashes there nearthe airport highway, reports of losses on both sides. Regime forces positioned in buildings in Jaramana also fired locations in Beit Sahm. A man from Zabadani was tortured to death after being detained by a military checkpoint several days ago.

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

An opposition fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra from the town of Mzeyrib was killed during clashes with regime forces in Dara`a today. Regime bombardment killed 1 civilian in Inkhil. Regime forces killed a woman from Da’el who worked as an emergency paramedic. In the al-Kashif neighborhood there was a report of the discovery of 6 more bodies of men tortured to death by the Syrian authorities.

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

Unknown gunmen assassinated the head of the Farmers Union in the city of Deir al-Zur. One fighter was killed in clashes with regular forces in the al-Rashdiyya neighorhood in the midst of artillery bombardment on al-Hamdiyya.

Unknown gunmen kidnapped opposition media activist Amer al-Huweidi two days ago in Deir az-Zur.

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq destroyed a Shi’i Husseiniyya in the village of Hatla village. (Hatla is where 60 Shi`i Syrians were killed on Tuesday.)

Fighters from the Jabhat al-Nusra and the Murabitun brigade reportedly took over military court building and the Bimo bank building in Deir Ezzour following violent clashes with regime forces.

Regime forces bombarded in the city of Muhassan.

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

Regime forces carried out a campaign of raids and arrests in the village of Safeena, taking away 2 persons, one of them a refugee. 3 civilians and 6 rebel fighters were killed. A man and woman from the village al-A’lbawi village near Salamiya were shot by regular forces at the Salba checkpoint. Regular forces tortured to death a man from al-Hmeidiya in Hama after detaining him. Aeriel bombardment on a location in the countryside in Hama killed 1 opposition fighter from al-Sanida. Regime forces killed 5 opposition fighters, including a commander in an ambush in the southern part of Rif Hama.

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

Helicopters bombarded parts of the town of Tel Hamis, damaging properties.

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

Regime forces bombarded the town of al-Ghento town and several people were injured. Regime forces are bombarding the neighborhoods of al-Qusoor and Jourat al-Shayyah in Homs with mortars. Regular forces tortured to death a man from the Karm al-Shami neighborhood; A sniper shot a man in al-Wa’r neighborhood days earlier; a sniper shot a man in the al-Hola area. Regime forces tortured to death a man from al-Qreitin. Regime bombardment killed a child in al-Rastan. In clashes in the neighborhoods of Homs, 5 opposition fighters were killed.

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

Regime forces bombarded parts of the town of Ma’arat Masrin, killing two civilians (one a child) and injuring others. Regime forces bombarded the towns of Telmnis and al-Dana, killing a man in al-Dana.

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

An opposition leader was killed by clashes with regime forces by the 17th division. Helicopters bombarded the area, dropping explosive barrels. The air force bombarded parts of the city of al-Raqqah, targeting a building by the traffic police building.

Tartous province.,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

This article does not acknowledge the fighting that has taken place in Tartous – see previous Syria Updates.

Article on Assad loyalists in Tartous.,0,1279686.story?page=1&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmiddleeast+%28L.A.+Times+-+Middle+East%29&utm_source=feedburner&track=rss


Syria’s Assad congratulates Hassan Rowhani on his victory as Iran’s new president.

Earlier, the Independent reported that Iran will be sending 4,000 troops to Syria. However, there has been criticism of this report by Robert Fisk suggesting that there are no sources for the story. Including here for the sake of full disclosure.

Four Lebanese Shi`i men were killed near R’as Ba`lbak apparently in connection with the Syrian conflict.

UNESCO is holding its annual meeting in Cambodia amid concern for archaeological and historical treasures in Syria. Six Syrian sites may be put on an endangered list by the body:

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

14 Jun

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

Death toll: The UN says the death toll in Syria now exceeds 93,000 and may have even exceeded 100,000.

The U.S. government reported that it would be providing military support to the Syrian opposition although the details are not all clear. The decision was made based on the evidence that the Assad government has used chemical weapons.

The opposition seized Quneitra on Thursday, a U.N.-manned border crossing between Israel and Syria.

Egypt’s, Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s top clerics declare jihad in Syria. Islamic scholars agreed to a bayan (proclamation) read by Shaykh Muhammad Hassan, a prominent Egyptian preacher: “Jihad is necessary for the victory of our brothers in Syria – jihad with mind, money, weapons; all forms of jihad.”
Hassan said that more than 70 organisations represented had called for “support, whatever will save the Syrian people”.

Refugees and Relief:

UNHCR replaces a doll left behind by a little Syrian girl thanks to another little girl living in Thailand.

About 840 Syrians flooded into Jordan bringing the number over the last 2 days to more than 1,300 as the FSA and Hizbullah exchanged fire in Dar`a province.

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

Extremely violent clashes took place outside al-Sakhour in Aleppo as regular forces tried to storm the neighborhood from the al-Shaykh al-Khudur side and the side where the electricity company is located. A tank was destroyed and several regular troops were killed and injured. The regime forces shelled the neighborhood, killing two men. Regular forces also bombarded Tariq al-Bab, Jabal Badro, and Tariq al-Hamra. Rockets fell on the al-Jazmati neighborhood and at its outskirts, regime forces bombarded the village of Hamima. Clashes took place in Salahadin and as the opposition targeted the artillery battalion in the al-Zahra neighborhood.
Clashes occurred in the town of Ma’arat al-Artiq. The outskirts of the Kweiris military airport was subject to aerial bombardment. Regime bombardment of the city of al-Bab killed 4 children under the age of 14 . Regime forces also bombarded Kafarhamra, Rasm Assan, al-Safeera and Ma’arat al-Artiq. There were reports that the opposition shot down a helicopter that was dropping bags of food to the regime forces in the town of Nubul.
Clashes took place in the Sleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood, and alongside mortar and tank fire on the Sheikh Khudur neighborhood. The regime forces bombarded Sheikh Maqsoud. One source reported that the opposition freed Bab Jnen. A mortar shell was launched into the area near the al-Ba’ath party branch in the Jamiliya neighborhood. Violent clashes took place by the traffic police branch in Bab Antakya, between rebels and regime and pro-regime militia as the opposition tried to break into the neighborhood. Violent clashes took place near the Aleppo International airport, and the Syrian airforce bombarded rebel positions; there were reports of injuries.
On Wednesday, the body of a man was found with gunshots to his head and neck near a mosque in al-Bab city. Unknown gunmen had thrown his body by the mosque. Local activists reported that the man was detained several months ago by the Shari’a Council of al-Bab, in a theft case.
Syrian rebels had made advances on Monday in their battle to seize the Minnigh airbase, by taking the radar tower.
A 15 year old (some sources wrote 14 year old) boy, Muhammad al-Qatta was executed by opposition fighters in the Sha’ar neighborhood of Aleppo on Monday. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s Shari’a Committee detained the young boy at 10 p.m. where he worked selling coffee in the Sad al-Lawz area of al-Sha’ar, they captured him for blaspheming during an argument while he was working; apparently in response to a customer who wanted to be served on credit, he said “even if Muhammed comes back to life, I won’t [do it]”.

They later returned with the boy to the area, the child’s shirt was covering his head and he had been beaten and tortured. The fighters then publicly announced (speaking not in a Syrian accent but in a classical Arabic one) that apostasy and cursing the prophet is a terrible vice and that anyone who does so will face similar fate. They then shot the boy twice with a automatic rifle in front of the gathered crowd, in the neck and the head.

The Shari’a court of Aleppo has a security branch in the area but did not stop the summary execution of the boy. Despite complaints, no investigation has been undertaken so the SOHR made known which factions which were involved.

Testimony by the father of Muhammad Qatta (who was present)

Testimony of the mother of Muhammad Qatta

Testimony of the younger brother of Muhammad Qatta and a passerby by Muhammad’s coffee stand, who were present during the detention and execution:

Damascus province:,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
A mortar shell fell on the al-Zahira al-Qadima, near the entrance to the Yarmouk camp. Another mortar fell on the Tadamun neighbourhood, and the Qaboun neighborhood was bombarded which caused the death of one man. A sniper shot a woman from Qaboun. Violent clashes broke out between opposition and regular forces at the entrance to the al-Yarmouk camp. Mortar shells fell on the al-Rawda area of Jaramana.

Opposition fighters bombarded the Damascus International Airport. Mortars fired caused delays of two landings and one take-off, and an airport worker was wounded.

On Wednesday, 10 unidentified bodies were found in the Qadam neighbourhood, activists said that they were summarily executed by regime forces.

How people are carrying on with their daily lives behind the battle lines in Damascus.

Dara`a province:,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA
Free Syrian Army forces and Hizbollah fighters traded fire for several hours on the outskirts of Daraa late Wednesday, marking the first clashes between rebel forces and the Lebanese Shiite group since their arrival in southern Syria 8,000 Hizbollah and Iranian fighters had encircled Daraa in a bid to lay siege to one of the final rebel strongholds in southern Syria.

Clashes took place north of Jasim city between rebels and a regime motorcade that was heading to Jasim, reports that a tank was destroyed. Clashes by the Der’a refugee camp, as regime forces try to storm the camp, they are bombarding parts. Regime forces renewed mortar bombardment on the south-western parts of al-Hara city, no reports of casualties. 1 woman from the town of Sheikh Miskeen was killed by a regime sniper by the al-Dawwar checkpoint.

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

The village of Hatla is under regime bombardment, 2 men were killed as a result. 1 man from the town of Buqrus was killed by a regime sniper in the Husseiniya area. The Sheikh Yassin and Hamidiya neighbourhoods of Deir az-Zur were bombarded by regime forces – this was the 365th consecutive day that the Assad regime bombarded the city of Deir az-Zur.

These individuals were killed today: Adel Al-Mehia, civilian killed in shelling on the village of Alsalhea; Ali Al-Hebish, a civilian from Boqros Town, killed by a sniper in the village of al-Husainiyya.

– Muhannad Sobhi Hasan Aljaruo, martyred in Hatla Village because of shelling

Abdelnaser Hasan Aljaruo and Ahmad Nuri al-Jablan, both civilians killed in shelling of the village of Hatla.

Salah Jasem al-Ammash, defected soldier from the regime army, was tortured to death today by regime forces who arrested him 4 months ago.

Ahmad al-Thiban, of the FSA, killed in chashes in al-Rasafa.

Mohammad Touma, a defected soldier from the eastern Ghouta was killed in clashes in al-Rasafa.

Anas Aysar Saqur, and Aysar Saqur both of the FSA were killed in shelling on al-Hamidiyya.

A sniper shot an unidentified truck driver on al-Siysiya bridge.

Opposition fighters from several factions had captured the Hatla village, inhabited by Shi`a, following clashes, shellings and attacks on at least 60 Shi`a. It was alleged that most were fighters armed by the Assad regime. Some Shi’i civilians fled to the nearby villages At least 10 opposition fighters were killed in the clashes which erupted on Monday night when Shi’i fighters attacked an opposition battalion, killing 2 fighters and injured 8. After this, thousands of fighters attacked Hatla, they were in turn bombarded by Syrian regular forces stationed at the Deir Izzor military airport.

On Tuesday, this video was posted, and in it a man says they’ve burned all the houses of the Shi`a apostates.

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

Regime forces bombarded the village of Atshan and the farmlands by the city of Latamneh. Helicopters dropped explosive barrels on the village of al-Na’imiya, as regime forces also bombarded on the ground.

Violent clashes broke out at dawn today between opposition fighters and regular forces near a military stronghold at the southern outskirts of the town of Mourk town which that lies on the Damascus-Aleppo international road. Opposition fighters took hold of the stronghold, seized weapons and ammunition and killed at least 6 regular soldiers.

Regime forces bombarded the town of Kafrnbouda at dawn on Thursday.

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

An armed group kidnapped 10 Kurdish civilians in the al-Busra roundabout from a bus belonging the al-Rafidein company and also stole the bus.

Clashes took place this morning between opposition and regime forces who manned the Kherab Askar checkpoint, south of Tel Hamis town. The opposition forces took over the checkpoint.

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

Two civilians from the We’er neighbor hood of Homs were killed, 1 was shot by a sniper and the other died from wounds received in a sniper attack two weeks ago. Clashes took place in the Wadi al-Sayeh neighborhood. Regime forces and Hizbullah forces have stormed the village al-Husseiniya village.

A husband and wife were killed in an airstrike on Old Homs.
Moving a little girl to a field hospital after she’s hit in an airstrike in Old Homs.

On Sunday, shabiha (militia members) were brought by bus by the regime into al-Qusayr to hold a rally for the President.

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

Regime fighter planes carried out an air raid on the Taftanaz military airport. Regime forces bombarded the towns of Deir al-Sharqi and Deir al-Gharbi, causing injuries.

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

Regime forces bombarded the villages of Ara and al-Maroniyat, near the town of Salma as well as Nahiyat Rabi’a.

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

The leader of a Syrian Kurdish rebel faction from Kobani was killed when regime forces bombarded a sugar storage space in the city of Raqqah city yesterday setting it on fire. The airforce bombarded the area by the 17th division, north of Raqqah. Fires broke out in the Tabqa military airport. Seven rebel fighters, including a field commander were reportedly killed in the clashes by the 17th division.

A mortar shell fell near the al-Asfar warehouse by the al-Qitaran station, and it was reported that 7 were injured.


Egyptians are told they may go to Syria to fight the Assad regime as Sunni clerics call for jihad.

U.S. Deputy national security advisor for strategic communications Ben Rhodes issued a formal statement on the U.S. governments position on Assad’s use of chemical weapons and will now be assisting the Supreme Military Council of the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Senators McCain and Graham call for a no-fly zone in Syria.

Former U.S. President Clinton expresses comments critical of Obama’s sitting on the sidelines in Syria (if he continues to do so).

Kuwait’s parliament condemned sectarian rhetoric over the Syrian conflict today, apparently in response to an anti-Hizbullah demonstration outside the Lebanese embassy where a fiery speech was given by a Muslim cleric against Hizbullah’s involvement.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 (minus 93,000 to 100,000) 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.

“Turkey Joins the Arab Spring – ?” (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

10 Jun

“A Week In Turkey – Links” Sherifa Zuhur/IMEISS.

“Turkey’s Prime Minister Berates Protesters.” Al-Jazeera June 10, 2013.

Fraser, Susan and Becatoros, Elena (Associated Press). “Turkey’s Leader Lambasts Protesters.” Philippine Star. June 10, 2013.

Omid Safi. “On the Ground at Gezi Park.”

Erdogan via the Dragoman:

Kumova, Ceren. “Demonstrators Defy Erdogan’s Call for Calm.” The Examiner.
June 10, 2013.

Acemoglu, Daren. “Development Won’t Ensure Democracy in Turkey.”

Bektas, Ali. “The Flip Side of the Anti Capitalist Coin. Istanbul Uprising.”

Savci, Evren. “On the Turkish Model: Neoliberal Democracy with Teargas”

Goker, Emrah. “Let Us Dot the ‘i’ and Cross the ‘t’: Insurgence and the End of ‘Tough Love’ Politics in Turkey.”
Jadaliyya – June 8, 2013

“Tencere Tava Havasi” (Sound of Pots and Pans)

Woodall, Carole. “The View from Istiklal”
June 8, 2013

Oktem, Karem. “Contours of a New Republic and Signals from the Past: How to Understand Taksim Square.”
Jadaliyya – June 7, 2013

Bosphorus Jazz Chorus. “Are You [a] Looter?”

Telci, Ismail Numan.” Hallucination of a Revolution in Turkey: Tahrir or Taksim?”
World Bulletin – June 7, 2013

Pope, Hugh. “Erdogan Can Win By Engaging Turkey’s Park Protesters.”
Bloomberg News – June 7, 2013

“Twenty-Five Examples of the Best Street Humor from Istanbul, Gezi Park.” Buzzfeed. June 6, 2013.

Kardas, Saban. “Understanding the Structural Causes of Turkish Protests.”
German Marshall Fund of the United States – June 06, 2013

Karaveli, Halil. “Erdogan in Trouble His Biggest Challenge Is President Abdullah Gul, Not Liberals.”
Foreign Policy – June 6, 2013

Sözen, Yunus.
“Confronting an Elected Dictator: Popular Mobilization in Turkey.” International Viewpoint – Wednesday 5 June 2013

Mason, Whit. “Turkey’s Secular Awakening.”
Foreign Policy | JUNE 5, 2013

Turkey Protests: Rival Football Fans Join Forces
Sky News – June 5, 2013

“Turkish Protesters Held Mass Yoga Demo.” Chicago Tribune. June 5, 2013.

Erdağ Göknar. “Why Turkey is Up in Arms.”
Islami Commentary – June 4, 2013

Toumi, Abdennour. “Turkish Delight: A Sour Democracy.”
Nour News – Jun 4th, 2013

“The Turkish autumn.”
The Voice of Russia – June 4, 2013

Stephens, Philip. “Modern Turkey demands a modern democracy.”
Gulfnews June 4, 2013

Tugal, Cihan. “Occupy Gezi: The Limits of Turkey’s Neoliberal Success.”
Jadaliyya – June 4, 2013

White, Jenny. “Why Turks are so angry.”
CNN – June 4, 2013

Anger over Turkey’s ‘Islamization’ at the heart of protest
The Voice of Russia – June 4, 2013

Barkey, Henri, J. “All the Prime Minister’s Yes-Men.”
June 4, 2013

Stone, Norman. “ Protests show the frailty of Turkey’s ‘progress’”
Standard – June 4, 2013

Berlinkski, Claire. “Erdoğan Over the Edge.”
Cith Journal – June 3, 2013

Turkmen-Dervisoglue, Gulay. “Gezi: the park that shook up Turkey.”
Open Democracy – 3 June 2013

Goldman, David P. “The Economics of the “Turkish Spring”
PJ Media – June 3rd, 2013

Momani, Bessma. “Turkey’s Summer of Discontent.”
Brookings Opinion | June 3, 2013

Savran, Sungur. “Report from Turkey: A Taste of Tahrir at Taksim.”
En Passant – June 2, 2013

Resentment against Erdogan explodes
by A.Z.
The Economist – Jun 2nd 2013 | ISTANBUL

Yackley, Ayla Jean. “Simmering Anger at Erdogan’s Authoritarianism Boils Over in Turkey.” June 2, 2013

Syria Update, June 8, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

8 Jun

Syria Update June 8, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 70 killed including 22 civilians.

Friday’s death toll: 110 killed, including 36 civilians and among these civilians 5 women and 3 men were tortured to death by regime forces.

The opposition’s lost battle for Qusayr was sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and counter to popular mythology was the first to be so backed (other than efforts on the Jordanian border.

Syria’s National Coalition again ruled out attending the U.S.-Russian sponsored peace talks in Geneva. Georges Sabra said that the Syrian opposition needs military assistance, not talks.

Lina Sinjab’s farewell to Damascus.

Interview with Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi

Refugees and Relief:

The United Nations launched its largest ever appeal for aid for war-torn Syria.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon exceed 511,000 according to the UNHCR.

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

10 opposition fighters were killed in clashes and also bombardment in Jabal Shweihina incuding a local commander. A sniper killed a man in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood. Eight regular troops were killed in Aleppo today.

The FSA continued to besiege the Aleppo Central Prison.

Regime forces bombed the area between Anadan and Hraitan.

A surface-to-surface missile killed 3 civilians in the town of Kafarhamra.

Three opposition fighters were killed by the YPG in clashes on the road between the viallages of Jeibara and Beineh in the Efrin area today. On Friday, the YPG in the Efrin area took over the villages of Basila in Nahiyat Shirawa, and Bashmera. This followed two days of heavy clashes with the opposition which had attacked the Kurdish villages on the 25th of May and besieged them. Clashes continued on Friday in the villages of al-Zeyara and Beineh. Also on Friday, regime forces in the Mengh military airport targeted one of the houses in the village of Mengh, setting it on fire.

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

An unidentified body was found in the Hamish area of the Barzeh neighborhood. A large explosion was heard in al-Zahira.

In clashes and regime bombardment, five opposition fighers were killed in al-Maliha, Erbin and Hazarma. 1 man who was part of a medical team trying to evacuate the wounded from Douma was killed by regime fire. A man was killed in unknown circumstances in Zamalka. A man and his son were discovered after being killed in their home in al-Tal.

Regime bombardment of Douma killed 2 children, yesterday (Friday). Also, the regime forces bombarded areas of Darayya. There were clashes around Mu’adamiyya; one opposition fighter was killed in clashes near Erbin by the ring road and the airforce bombarded the village of Ras al-Ein (all yesterday).

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

In clashes in Bosra, Inkhil, Na’ima and the city of Dar`a, 4 opposition fighters were killed and one was a local commander. 8 civilians were killed in the province today — the regime forces tortured to death 2 civilians from the Der’a refugee camp who were being detained. 4 civilians were killed by bombardment on Jassim, Nimir, and Inkhil. 1 child was killed by the gunfire in the town of Bosra al-Sham. 1 man died of his wounds from the bombardment several days ago on the al-Kashif in Dar`a.

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

1 defected soldier was killed in clashes in the city of Deir az-Zour. Also, the following were killed from May 6 – 7 and have been identified:

Noor Mohammad Alhajir, a 13 year old girl
Ammar Alrahmo
Mowaffaq Dawoud Alabdllah
Mahmoud Khaled Alissa
Hamad Hamoud Albakdsh
Nori Alahmad
Sobhi Alaskar

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

Medical sources in the city of al-Salamiyah confirmed that Islamist opposition factions killed 11 members of the Syrian Armed Forces and the National Defense Forces when they attacked the Nahiyat al-Se’en checkpoint. One of the dead was an officer with the rank of captain. More than 20 regime forces were injured. The opposition fighters also suffered losses. 1 opposition fighter was killed in clashes near the al-Emya checkpoint at the town of al-Sa’en.

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

1 rebel was killed while trying to evacuate the injured from al-Quseir city. 7 civilians, including a woman, were killed by a car bomb in the al-Adawi area of Homs (a mostly Alawi area).

Syrian regime forces took over the last opposition-held area in al-Qusayr at eastern Buweida village, four days after al-Qusayr fell to Hizbullah and the Syrian army. Buweida appears to be in ruins.

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

On Friday, 2 women and a man were killed by the bombardment on the village of Megher al-Hamam, near the town of Habit.

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

2 civilians, an adult and a child were killed by the helicopter bombardment on the city of al-Tabqa.


Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari says the country is not sending fighters to Syria. (Does that mean they are volunteering and arriving on their own?)

On Friday, Russia’s Putin made it known that he would like to send Russian forces to the Golan Heights to relieve the Austrian peacekeeping forces there, (being withdrawn by Austria.)

However, the United Nations responded that members of the UN Security Council cannot send peacekeeping troops, therefore it rejected Russia’s offer.

In Lebanon, fighting related to the conflict in Syria once again erupted in Tripoli’s souks.

Wounded anti-regime fighters who fell in al-Qusayr were evacuated to Lebanon and are being treated in Ba’lbak area hospitals (al-Jazeera reports that they went to Shtoura to the hospital) (I wonder if that includes the Imam Khomeini Hospital, the primo facility in Ba’lbak, somehow doubt that).

More than 90 wounded have been evacuated.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Shaykh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Shaykh condemned Hizbullah following its intervention in Syria.

I thought you might benefit from this explanation of RPGs, from the Encyclopedia of U.S. Middle Eastern Wars, edited by Spencer Tucker (and myself and Dave Zebecki as assisting editors) and following that a few questions on Russia.

Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG)
A short-range, shoulder-fired, infantry antitank and anti-personnel weapon. Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPG) have also been used from time to time against aircraft, especially helicopters. RPG has been popularly translated as “rocket-propelled grenade,” but the acronym actually stands for Ruchnoy Protivotankovy Granatomyot, Russian for “handheld antitank grenade launcher.” In the 1950s, the production was taken over by the Bazalt State Research and Production Enterprise, which continues to produce the Russian-made RPG today. The RPG fires a fin-stabilized, oversized explosive charge to penetrate armored vehicles. RPG warheads, ranging from 70mm to 85mm in diameter, come in thermobaric (fuel-air explosive), fragmentation, HEAT (high explosive anti tank), and high explosive configurations. The most successful and commonly used RPG version today is the RPG-7 and its variants. It has been in service since 1961, when it replaced the earlier RPG-2 that had been introduced in 1949.
The RPG is a single-shot weapon, requiring reloading after each firing. In its regular military deployment, the RPG is used by a two-person team, with the shooter carrying the weapon and two additional rounds of ammunition. The second team member carries an additional three rounds of ammunition, and is also trained to fire the weapon if the primary shooter is incapacitated. A well-trained RPG team can fire 4-6 rounds per minute.
The weapon is comprised of a reusable smooth-bore, 40mm tube that fires a front-loaded projectile. The tube is 37.4 inches long and weighs 17.4 pounds unloaded. With the grenade loaded, it weighs 22 pounds. The weapon is controlled by two pistol-grip handles with an unusual configuration, as the trigger mechanism is located in the forward handle, with the rear grip used for additional stability. The grenade itself is made up of two parts, the warhead with a sustainer motor, and the booster charge. These parts must be screwed together before loading and firing.
The RPG is recoilless, with the recoil of the rocket exiting through the breech exhaust opening. The grenade is a rocket-assisted projectile and is ejected from the launcher tube by a small strip powder charge at a velocity of about 380 feet per second. After traveling about 36 feet, a sustainer rocket ignites and increases the grenade’s velocity to a maximum 960 feet per second. After initial launch, a set of fins opens in the tail section of the projectile. These fins cause the projectile to spin, improving stability in flight.
Firing the new PG-7VR tandem-charge ammunition, the RPG-7 can penetrate nearly 2 feet of steel with explosive reactive armor, 5 feet of reinforced concrete, 6.5 feet of brickwork, or 12 feet of log or sand. The RPG round can put a 2-inch hole in walls, but does not knock down the entire wall. It is highly effective in urban warfare against troops inside buildings. In this manner, it was used to great effect against American forces during the Vietnam War at the Battle of Hue in 1966.
The RPG-7 has two standard sights, a primary 2.5 power optical telescopic sight, and a permanently-attached iron sight as a backup. In addition, night-vision sights may be attached in place of the optical sight. Two factors make accurate firing difficult, particularly at longer ranges, even in ideal weather conditions. First, the shooter must estimate range with a high degree of precision. This is helped greatly by the optical sight, but remains a crucial factor in achieving a hit. Second, the weight of the grenade at the forward end of the RPG makes it difficult to hold the weapon steady for any length of time. This means that the shooter must line up his sights and fire quickly. Without practice, a shooter can hit a vehicle-sized target most of the time at ranges of 150-300 feet. With training, the RPG has an effective range of 1,000 feet against moving targets and about 1,600 feet against stationary targets.
Unlike most projectiles in flight, the RPG’s grenade flies into a crosswind, and not with the direction of the wind. This fact makes aiming the RPG in a crosswind extremely complicated. In a 7-mph crosswind, a first round hit at 600 feet may be expected about 50 percent of the time. Insurgents have often compensated for poor accuracy by firing large numbers of RPGs at a single target. This phenomenon was reported against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, during the Afghanistan-Soviet War, and against the Israelis in the Summer 2006 Lebanon War by Hezbollah.
The short effective range of the RPG forces the shooter to get close to the target, either by advancing or allowing the target to approach until within effective range. Rapid firing is critical, and the launcher is carried loaded to speed the firing procedure. When fired, the RPG emits a telltale puff of exhaust smoke. This factor, combined with the short range, necessitates evasive action by the shooter immediately after firing, unless the action is meant to be a suicide mission.
The RPG can be fired from the standing, crouching, or prone positions. Low “backsplash,” or rocket exhaust, also allows the use of the RPG from enclosed spaces, like rooms in fortified positions, making the RPG particularly useful in the covered, short-range combat environment of urban operations. This feature has been used to considerable advantage in Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq since 2003.
Originally designed as an antitank weapon, the RPG was copied from the World War-era German Panzerfaust and the American-made 3.5inch rocket launcher known as the Bazooka. Improvements in armor technology, particularly the incorporation of gapped and reactive armor in main battle tanks in the 1970s and 1980s, reduced the effectiveness of RPGs as antitank weapons. However, an advanced grenade, the PG-7BR, featuring a tandem two-stage warhead designed to defeat reactive armor, was introduced in 1988.
Nonetheless, with the development of precision anti tank guided missiles (ATGM) such as the Russian AT-3 Sagger, deployed in 1963, and the American BGM-71 tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missile deployed in 1971, use of RPGs against tanks declined considerably and they were adapted thereafter mainly for use against personnel, fixed positions, and light vehicles. In addition, the fact that the RPG round self explodes after a range of about 3,000 feet allows it to be used as a form of light artillery, spraying the target area with shrapnel.
In Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, RPGs shot down two American UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. This triggered an extensive battle between U.S. forces and local militiamen, resulting in the deaths of 17 Americans. That in turn ultimately led to the withdrawal of American forces from Somalia in March 1994. Specially modified RPGs were also used by the mujaheddin against Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to great effect.
In its antipersonnel role, the RPG fires two different grenades. One, a thermobaric, air fuel explosive round, TBG-7VR, has the destructive equivalent of an artillery projectile or a 120mm mortar shell. The second, a fragmentation round, OG-7V, is particularly effective against fire emplacements. In addition, the HEAT round sprays lethal metal fragments as far as 500 feet from the point of impact.
The RPG, while originally Russian, and still produced in that country, is also produced in over a dozen other countries, and is in use in some 40 countries worldwide. In addition to regular armed forces, RPGs can be found in the arsenals of almost every non-state military organization in the world, including terrorist groups.
RPGs are easy to use and maintain and relatively inexpensive to manufacture, and like the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, RPGs are readily available on the black market at low cost. These factors, coupled with low training requirements and ease of use, have made it a chosen weapon of insurgents, terrorist groups, and other non-state militias around the world.
The RPG has been used extensively in Vietnam, Afghanistan (both during the Afghanistan-Soviet War and in the ongoing Operation ENDURING FREEDOM since 1991), Chechnya, throughout the Middle East, and Africa. It was also used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) against British troops in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
In Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, RPGs have been the favored weapon of various insurgent forces. While they are not capable of penetrating the M-1 Abrams tank, they have been successfully used against light-armored vehicles and U.S. and coalition infantry forces. Nevertheless, a perfectly-aimed RPG-7 can disable tanks, which can cause problems of a different sort. In August 2006 and again in January 2008, an RPG-29, the most potent RPG to date, did partially penetrate the FV4034 Challenger 2 tank, which is the United Kingdom’s main battle tank.
Additional versions, the RPG-26 and RPG-27, are single-shot, disposable antitank rocket launchers, similar to the American M-72 Light Antitank Weapon (LAW), entered into service in 1989. Firing a variant of the tandem two-stage warhead developed for the RPG-7, these are for use only against armored vehicles.
Elliot P. Chodoff
See also: Aircraft, Helicopters; Antitank Weapons; Afghanistan-Soviet War; ENDURING FREEDOM, Operation, Overview; Helicopters, Role in Soviet-Afghan War; IRAQI FREEDOM, Operation, Overview; Iraq Insurgency; Mujaheddin; Somalia and Intervention in.
Brassey’s Infantry Weapons of the World. New York: Crane Russak, 1979.
Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 2008-2009. Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group, 2008.
U.S. Army. Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher. Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1976: Bulletin No. 3.

Syria and Russia

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




Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.

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

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

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