Tag Archives: Aleppo

“Who is (Really) Protecting Syria’s Archaeological and Historical Heritage?” Guest Article by Martin Makinson

22 Oct

Who is (Really) Protecting Syria’s Archaeological and Historical Heritage?

By Martin Makinson

 

Martin Makinson is a doctoral researcher who specializes in the archaeology of Syro-Mesopotamia. He has worked extensively on excavations in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and spent the last ten years in many Arab countries, including Syria, Libya and Yemen. His research focuses on “Territories, Identities and Empires: the Impact of the Assyrians on the Material Culture in Northern Syria”.

Corbulo, an officer fighting for the Roman emperor Nero (reigned AD 54-68), once said that a war is won with a pickaxe and not just with a sword. He was referring to how soldiers dug under fortifications and opened tunnels to besiege enemy cities and destroy walls. Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front rebels have for months made tunnels under the old city of Aleppo to reach the Carlton hotel facing the citadel, i.e. the main headquarters for Assad’s troops and his so-called National Defense Guard. A little more than a fortnight ago, they managed to implode this late Ottoman building from below, putting to practice this Latin maxim and causing massive damage to regime ranks. The “war of tunnels” (in Idlib, at Wadi Dayf airbase, in Aleppo) appears to be a new – but long and patient – way of scratching into a regime war machine still prevailing on the ground and in the air.

Yet Corbulo’s words can also apply to what is actually occurring as we speak: an attempt by Bashar al-Assad, courtesy of international organizations such as UNESCO and NGOs like Heritage for Peace, to pose as the defenders of archaeology, of Syria’s huge historical and architectural heritage, and, why not, of civilisation itself. Bashar’s propaganda stints often portray destructions merely as the result of fundamentalist Islamic armed hordes wantonly reducing historical monuments and sites to rubble, plundering any precious movable relics or destroying them in order to satisfy their “Wahhabi” agenda. If we are to believe the conference organizers, who screened out any undesirable coverage of an event which made security and staff at Unesco’s Paris premises quite edgy, “plans and grand designs” are under way to restore the unique remains of all periods of Syria’s history, from Neolithic to Ottoman. What the Damascus General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) announces it will restore are the buildings obliterated or looted to a large extent by the very regime they are working for and representing abroad.

After three years of devastation, in the wake of the bombing of entire ancient cities from the air or from SCUD launchers, the Assad regime sent to Paris a delegation of archaeologists and museum curators to attend a three day conference, from May 26th to 29th 2014. At UNESCO premises at Place de Fontenoy near the Eiffel tower, Assad’s civil servants discussed a budget for some of the country’s – damaged, to say the least – architectural jewels, most leveled in the last two years by MIG fighter jets and barrel bombs filled with TNT. Two and a half million dollars (minimal sums, considering the scale of the destruction) have been set aside for a three-year restoration project of medieval citadels destroyed by the conflict. These so-to-speak drops of water provided by Denmark and Belgium, are to be handed over to “experts” and to a General Directorate staff acting as firemen for a power structure which has – literally – committed arson from the very day its phosphorous bombs reduced to ashes the Middle East’s largest Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman souk in Aleppo in the winter of 2012. Many archaeologists such as Paolo Matthiae, of La Sapienza University in Rome and the director of excavations at the third millennium BCE site of Ebla since 1965, are attending and lecturing. It was this very Matthiae who had rewarded Asma al-Assad with an honoris causa doctorate from his university in October 2004, during a much media-covered visit to this 55 hectare urban Bronze age centre. Other scholars and prominent archaeologists have chosen not to respond to UNESCO’s calls for a closed-doors symposium whose political agenda appears clearly under the veneer of scholarly workshops and assessments.

Four workshops were planned in a program which has been (mysteriously) removed from the conference’s website, three dealing with different aspects of heritage in Syria: movable objects (i.e. saving sites and museums from looting and plundering), built heritage (monuments and archaeological mounds), intangible heritage (preserving arts, crafts and traditions for which Syria is famous for, for instance Hama’s cotton prints, music and walnut and mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, or the music and muwashahat and qâsida poetry that has made Aleppo famous). One of the “bright ideas” put forward by UNESCO was to print hundreds of thousands of flyers to be given to refugees in camps in Lebanon and Syria, to inform them of the value of heritage. Though a substantial number of antiquities do leave the country via Syria and Lebanon, far from being in the hands of displaced refugees, they are the loot of Lebanese, European and Turkish smugglers: a few months ago, a Byzantine mosaic kept in Raqqa (maybe in fact from Dibsi Faraj, an artwork from churches dug in the 1970s during rescue operations on the Euphrates) was destroyed by ISIL extremists because it had aroused the interest of a Turkish antiquities dealer willing to illegally purchase it.

Asma al-Assad in 2006, receiving an honoris causa doctorate from the dean of humanities of La Sapienza University in Rome

Asma al-Assad touring Ebla with Italian archaeologist Paolo Matthiae

But will conference papers discuss the systematic looting at Syria’s largest Hellenistic and Roman site at Apamea, some 50 km north of Hama above the marshy Ghâb valley? Will Dr Mamoun Abd al-Karim, the current director of antiquities, a man hailing from Malkiyeh (Derrik) east of Qamishli (close to Iraq and Turkey’s borders) discuss the hundreds of pits dug on both sides of the 1.8 km avenue of spiralled columns and shops (the longest in the Orient), these erected in the aftermath of the 115 AD earthquake, shortly after emperor Trajan’s victories in Mesopotamia against the Parthians? Small-scale illicit digging was a problem at Apamea well before the 2011 uprising. Local youth on motorcycles would drive around the site and around Seleucos I’s massive Hellenistic walls to show visitors the odd Roman coin, a pottery oil lamp or Roman Samian ware. Osman ‘Aidi, a well-known developper of the merchant-military class of the 1980s (who constructed the Sham hotel in Hama over the Keilani quarter’s slaughtered inhabitants) had disfigured many of the site’s columns by covering them with ghastly, crude, mushroom-shaped capitals of concrete. Still, what has occurred since 2012 is something quite different, a scandal on an industrial scale met only by the silence of many scholars and agencies alike. Since March 2012, officers of the Syrian army have forced local peasants to dig trenches all over the site, creating a lunar landscape similar to other plundered classical and Hellenistic cities of the Orient in conflict zones (Aï Khanoum in Bactriana/Afghanistan and Hatra in Iraq are a case in point). During a visit made by the author in August 1995, Belgian archaeologist Jean-Claude Balty had emphasized how it was difficult to preserve a marble marvel: the opus sectile designs of the 6th century AD Eastern Byzantine cathedral, near the second century AD decumanus colonnade. He was then horrified at how entire floors forming intricate geometric patters were being vandalized after exposure, partly a result of the General Directorate’s lack of organization and care in managing and protecting them from the elements. Alas, one doubts whether Dr Mamoun Abd al-Karim, a specialist of classical periods and of Roman centuriations (agricultural land divisions for taxation purposes) in the area around Homs will raise the issue of Apamea and discuss at UNESCO regime responsibilities in vandalism and looting.

To the right, Opus sectile floor in the Eastern Cathedral of Apamea. To the left, a view of the eastern apse of the same monument (from http://romeartlover.tripod.com/Apamea2.html)

Just a few hundred meters to the West, the regime had, a few months earlier, targeted the tell (mound) of Qala‘at al-Mudiq, whose latest levels were those of the Crusader border fortress of Fémie. This was a place where the Duke of Antioch Bohemund had confronted Saladin’s troops in the 1180s – an episode recalled by Saladin’s secretary, the Arab knight Usama Ibn Munqidh of Sheizar castle on the Orontes. An arched bridge, a smaller scale version of the one leading into the Aleppo citadel, was partly damaged by shells, just as two 12th century AD bastions to the west. It is also unlikely that many questions on the artillery bombing of March 2012 will be asked during the UNESCO closed door sessions.

To be presented during these three days were restoration plans of two quasi-intact citadels in the Jebel al-Ansariyeh mountains: Qala‘at al-Husn and further north, Saladin’s castle (in fact Qala‘at Sahyun, derived from the French Saône family responsible for its upkeep before Sultan Salah ad-Dine seized it in 1188). In mid-June 2012, the Sunni enclave of al-Haffeh, above Lattakia, suffered from massive regime bombardment when the Free Syrian Army held it for a few days. Saladin’s castle, 6 km uphill, was also hit. Described by Lawrence of Arabia as one of the most beautiful fortresses of the Orient, illustrated in his doctoral dissertation, it is in fact a city bordered to the north by a 30-metre deep moat dug into the limestone around a drawbridge pinnacle, and to the south by a lower town with unexcavated houses lost in a maze of thick bush and thorns. In between, what was standing was a citadel whose foundations go back to Byzantine Emperor John Tzimikès, who when a general reconquered the coastal Levant in AD 982, seizing it from the Shia Hamdanid dynasty ruling in Aleppo. There is precious little information on the current state of a Crusader keep three storeys high where the Southern French Puylaurens noble family resided in the mid-12th century, nor is anything known of the fate of the hammam (the baths) built by Mamluk sultan Baibars and excavated by a French-Syrian expedition funded by the Agha Khan.

Some of the intact Crusader towers at Saladin’s castle

(author’s photograph, 2010)

As for Qala‘at al-Husn, the Krak des Chevaliers guarded by the Hospitalliers religious order before it surrendered to the same sultan Rukn ad-Dîn Baibars in 1271, it has suffered even more extensive destruction. “Baibar’s tower”, a 13th century AD underground hammam inside the keep, an assembly hall for knights with a famous warning inscription in Latin against “pride”, and the chapel – some of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture in the Levant – were targeted on July 13th, 2013, by MIG fighter jets. These disloged with heavy ordnance FSA insurgents who were using this strategic vantage point overlooking the Homs corridor, the Buqeia of the Crusades.

 

Regime aerial bombing of the Baibars tower of the Krak des Chevaliers

 

Pictures showing regime artillery bombing of the entrance to the Apamea Qala‘at al-Mudiq medieval citadel in March 2012, and its aftermath (published online by APSA)

 

A view of Sergilla in the Jebel Zawiya in 2010 (photograph by the author). Since 2012, hundreds of internally displaced families from the region have taken shelter in this almost entirely preserved Byzantine village.

It is unclear whether Unesco, as well as discussing heritage awareness with refugees, plans to resettle the locals who have sheltered in the Late Roman and Byzantine 4th-5th century AD tombs, cisterns and houses of Sergilla, Baoude, Al-Bara, Ruwaiha and other Jebel Zawiyeh “Dead Cities”. Will the issue of why they have taken refuge there in the first place – because of Assad’s incessant bombing of civilians, bakeries, infrastructure, clinics in Maaret an-Nu‘man, Saraqeb, in the Ghâb Orontes valley and al-Bara – be addressed by this UN institution? The safeguarding of heritage is nothing more than one aspect of a huge list of grievances, at the top of which is the very survival and safety of a population driven home by a state terror campaign from the air.

What do the Roman temple, church and monastery of Deir Cheroubim at 1800 metres above sea level look like now, since the army has used it as a strategic stronghold for tanks and artillery? In early 2013, this mountaintop, a holy Christian site above Saidnaya, some 48 km north of Damascus in the Anti-Lebanon mountains, was used as a military base for Assad’s loyalist forces. Even worse, it became a target of fighting between Islamic Front fighters and the regime’s army during the Qalamoun battle in November 2013, when anti-Assad forces were disloged by Hezbollah militiamen and army troops from the nearby towns of Rankous, Deir ‘Atiyeh and Yabroud. The entire two-million-dollar UNESCO budget would not even be enough to restore this site 150 metres in diametre, which, though not the focus of Western tourism before 2011, was a popular destination for Syrians on a summer day out from Damascus. Deir Cheroubim is one of these Roman mountain cult sites dotting all slopes of the Anti-Lebanon mountains around sacred Mount Hermon (the Senir of the Bible and Phoenicians). Another example similar to Cheroubim is for instance Burqush, a place that became inaccessible to tourists after the 2006 war in Lebanon and was threatened even before the conflict. A huge platform with a temple and Byzantine basilica, the site was already under threat from army camps nearby in this most sensitive of areas near the Lebanese and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights borders. Both sites, on mountaintops with breathtaking views over the Damascus region, are part of a unique territory, elements of a sacred mountain dedicated in Aramaean times to the Storm God Hadad and in the Roman period to Zeus and Helios the sun deity (in Hebbariyeh and Deir ‘Ashayer in Lebanon, similar Roman cult-places survive as well-preserved monuments).

And then there are the mounds, the tells. Thousands of them from the Jazira near Qamishli to the Hawran, from Abou Kemal by Iraq to Syria’s earliest village at Tell Qaramel north of Aleppo. Those of many cities layered like Black Forest cakes. Those where battles of momentous importance for the history of the Near East were fought. Those whose layers go back to the pre-pottery Neolithic period (PPNA), c. 9000 BCE. Those where wars were won and then celebrated on reliefs at Abou Simbel and in the Theban Ramesseum in Egypt, or on clay tablets and treaties in cuneiform Akkadian from Hattuša, the Hittite imperial capital in modern Turkey. The battle for Qussayr must have greatly affected Tell Nabi Mend, where since 2012 fighting had been heavy. This artificial small mountain of mud brick and stone overlooking the Orontes, a few miles north of the Lebanese border, is of course where the clash of two empires took place, the disputed territory of one of antiquity’s most famous battles. In fact Qadesh-on-the-Orontes was where Ramesses II claimed to have saved the day and charged Muwatalli’s army on a chariot or where he ran for his life, according to which propaganda – Hittite or Egyptian – one is to believe. Qadesh was where, c. 1286 BCE, the Egyptian army was lured into a trap by spies acting as captured prisoners. These pretended to confess under duress information of paramount strategic importance. The irony is that this Ramesside propaganda echoes that of Assad’s claims to victory at nearby Qussayr, a town reduced to rubble in May 2013. Qussayr is a battle which was won thanks to Hezbollah mercenaries, with massive losses among Syrian army troops. It seems that Nabi Mend, a site excavated in the 1980s by a British team of archaeologists and now an army encampment, was severely damaged by tanks and trenches.

One could also mention Tell Sheikh Hamed at the other end of Syria, the Middle (1300-1100 BCE) and Late (900-610 BCE) Assyrian city of Dur-Katlimmu, an upper mound and a giant lower city of immense size; in fact this was the largest 7th and 6th century BCE metropolis in Syria. It was resettled in one go by the Assyrian governor Nergal-Eresh, and rebuilt over an artifical canal dug by deportees (the Nahr Dawrin, a 200 km long waterwork feeding from the Habur upstream near Hassake). Since 1979 a “Red Palace” of Nabuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire, a 500-tablet cuneiform archive of the same age discovered in 1998, a Late Bronze Age palace with similar tablets belonging to Assur’s king Tukulti-Ninurta I (1241-1207 BCE), are but a fraction of the immensely important discoveries made there by Berlin’s Free University Professor Harmut Kuhne and Assyriologists Wolfgang Röllig, Karen Radner and Eva Cançik-Kirschbaum. The site, 40 km west of the Wadi ‘Ajij, a gateway into Iraq and a no-man’s land, is a strategic crossroad. It therefore became a battle ground between FSA brigades and the Syrian army in mid-2012. Now the region is inaccessible and under the control of the most extreme, fanatic and violent of fundamentalist militias, ISIL – known to Syrians as Da‘esh. Their black flags of darkness now loom like stagnant clouds over the Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa and Hassake governorates, and little information on heritage or anything else trickles to the outside.

The means that the regime has used to destroy entire settlements, its disregard both for human life and for the houses and churches and residences and palaces built by tens of generations –those mentioned above in this article are but a minute fraction – should make organizations think twice before inviting Syria’s civil servants and officials to international conferences on heritage and restoration. Museum officials from the Damascus General Directorate, whose denunciations have been selective to say the least and who have indirectly or even straightforwardly lent credit to Assad’s narrative, will never voice any opposition to his relentless bombing campaigns. And they will even less be capable of doing something about looting and destructions affecting sites in areas which have expelled the Syrian dictator’s henchmen.

Those who have extensively documented the damage done to remains, those who have exposed crimes against heritage and barbaric, criminal behaviour towards a resource to be shared by all Syrians and which forms an essential ingredient for future peace and national cohesion, are all from civil society. At great risk for their own lives, they have forwarded countless snippets of information on what has actually occurred to the locations archaeologists had surveyed and cleared for decades. A network of dedicated students, of conscientious volunteers in Aleppo, in the Jazira, in the Hawran, in the Wadi Nessara, in the Orontes and Euphrates valleys and elsewhere, has been documenting the last three years of damage. It is archaeology students at Aleppo University who saved an Ayyubid 12th century wooden minbar (a prayer platform) from being obliterated to splinters by shells from the frontline. They are the ones who collected the hewn basalt and limestone stones of the 11th century Aleppo mosque minaret, which collapsed from tank shell bombing when this religious space was on the frontline. Their information and their actions are the infinitely precious pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle to be assembled when ISIL and the regime, who feed on each other’s actions, hopefully recede into oblivion. These students and youth have witnessed the extent of the tragedy affecting Doura Europos over the Euphrates, a city in the steppe where Palmyrenes, Parthians, Romans, Jews, Mesopotamians and Greeks mingled and where at least six languages were spoken before it fell in AD 256 to the Sassanian Persians. Now Doura, the city of the painted synagogue showing Moses crossing the Red Sea, of the palaces of the strategos and Dux Ripae Greek and Roman generals, of the temples of so many local and Greek gods (Zeus Megistos, Zeus hypsistos, the Gaddê, Nabû god of wisdom and writing…) lies in probably what is now the world’s most unsafe area.

The fortification walls of Doura Europos in the spring, looking northeast toward the Euphrates river valley (author’s photograph, 2009)

These brave – one could say foolhardy – Syrians, armed and funded with nothing but good will and passion, were instrumental in the creation of independent NGOs working on a shoestring such as APSA (Association for the Saveguarding of Syrian Heritage) and Ila Souria, a think-tank of architects, historians, lawyers and intellectuals regularly discussing reconstruction. Nevertheless, it is under the pressure of regime officials and their representative at Unesco, Lamia Shakkur, that they were banned from publically exposing the results of their work at UNESCO. Because of what they see as discrimination motivated by a regime whose authority they do not acknowledge, APSA and Ila Souria decided to boycott the event.

The Second century AD Roman temple, reconstructed as a church, within the Deir Cheroubim monastery compound near Saidnaya (author’s photograph).

This is not to say that the regime is the only party responsible for the damage to Syria’s monuments, cities and mounds. Assad’s forces barbarity is paralleled by the local equivalent of the Taliban. Countless examples of ISIL/Da‘esh’s gratuitous and hysterical violence against any remain from pre-Islamic times abound. One of the latest took place at Tell ‘Ajaja, the ancient city of Šadikanni and one of the Middle East’s earliest excavations, a place where in 1849 Sir Henry Austin Layard found a lamassu, a human-headed bull that guarded Assyrian palaces. Illicit looting has taken place since the Syrian conflict’s onset at this 15 hectare site some 25 km upstream from Tell Sheikh Hamed. Assyrian statues and relics found there were seized by Da‘esh Jihadis and reduced to dust, a crime recalling the terrible obliteration of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001. The fate of the Deir ez-Zor Museum, which houses a huge fraction of the Mari archive, all the third and fourth millennium BCE finds from the Jazira and those of Roman and Parthian Dura Europos, is unknown. Yet the worse is to be expected in a city to a great extent controlled by this Jihadi movement and whose late Ottoman souks were the scene of heavy fighting in 2013. In the terrorized city of Raqqa, the city ISIL ruthlessly rules since 2013, a unique sculpture preserved in a public garden was smashed to pieces by these fundamentalist extremists. It was a lion inscribed in three languages (hieroglyphic Luwian, Assyrian cuneiform and in the Aramaic akphabet). It had been taken there decades ago from Arslan Tash, an acient city lying 90 kms north on the Turkish border, where a French team had excavated in the 1930s, discovering an Assyrian “palace” (in fact probably a huge temple). This lion carved by the turtânu (general in command) Shamshi-Ilu, ruling the West as a vice-roy for the Assyrian king, was incidentally a proof of the ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of northern Syria in the 9th and 8th century BCE.

The destruction of century-old Sufi shrines, and of the graves of Shia mujtahids (Islamic law scholars) and saints are also part of Daesh-ISIL’s agenda, and indirectly serve that of the Assad regime. The extremist movement led by al-Baghdadi has thus done what the Syrian dictator had dreamt of for months since 2011: plunging the country into a sectarian abyss, which would drive thousands of Iraqi and Lebanese Shias to flock to Assad under the guise of protecting “Sayyida Zaynab”’s shrine. Such crimes against both history and the country’s social and religious fabric should be denounced as much as those of the regime, which feeds and thrives on the medieval behaviour of jihadi militias.

The NGOs APSA and Ila Souria have been very clear in their condemnation of all crimes against heritage and Syria’s historical and social fabric. They have been also frank about their refusal be part of a conference where, as they have pointed out on their Facebook page, they would “merely … be the audience, as result of pressure exerted by representatives of the Damascus regime, something which was communicated to us by the organizers themselves [UNESCO]”. In fact, at the three-day symposium, “none of the experts or representatives of associations working in the regions of Syria not under regime control are to express themselves in this conference, while representatives of the Ministry of Culture and of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Damascus will be present and giving lectures at all sessions”. Their refusal to attend was also a way of protesting against focus on experts who “have carried out no concrete action inside Syria” and against “criteria used for choosing participants, which are unclear, and have never been made explicit and transparent”. Strasbourg university Assistant Professor Philippe Quenet, who has lived and worked extensively in the field in Syria and Mesopotamia for many years and who is one of the founders of both Patrimoine Syrien en Danger and APSA, added that “to refuse to go to a conference where it would be unable to speak out to the audience was a question of dignity”, but this did not imply “absence of cooperation with parties really interested in working on the ground and promoting concrete actions to save Syria’s heritage.” In fact, strategies for cooperation on this matter were to be presented by these civil society NGOs at the next ICAANE conference on Near Eastern archaeology, in a workshop on Syria is on June 10th.

Asma al-Assad visiting a trench on the 2450 BCE acropolis of Tell Mardikh/Ebla, near Palace G, close to were 17,000 cuneiform tablets were found in 1974

 

Syria Update, January 14-15, 2014. Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

15 Jan

Syria Update, January 14-15 2014.  (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies.  By Sherifa Zuhur)

Tuesday’s death toll:  183 killed including 40 civilians, and of those 7 were children.

UN aid teams abandoned delivery of aid to Yarmouk after the Syrian government insisted that it use a dangerous route to the southern entrance of Yarmouk.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Jan-15/244117-un-abandons-aid-delivery-after-syria-insists-on-dangerous-route.ashx#axzz2qUVMvXzW

At least 10 and perhaps as many as 26 people were killed Wednesday morning in a car bomb in Jarablous in Aleppo province  attributed to ISIS http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jan/15/irans-fm-discusses-peace-talks-with-syrias-assad/

 

 

Starvation as a weapon of war in Yarmouk (and elsewhere) https://www.oximity.com/article/About-the-death-of-Palestine-at-the-ca-1

 

SANA reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today (Wednesday) in Damascus Syria.  The two have been speaking about the United Nations conference scheduled for next week in Montreux, Switzerland.  In the meeting Assad slammed Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syrias-assad-slams-saudi-ideology-as-threat-to-world.aspx?pageID=517&nID=61082&NewsCatID=352

John Kerry’s message to the Friends of Syria  – http://m.state.gov/md219697.htm

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/13/us-syria-crisis-raqqa-idUSBREA0B0MX20140113

Refugees and Relief:

UK gives amnesty to 1500 Syrian refugees.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10555821/UK-accepts-1500-asylum-seekers-from-Syria.html

 

Bulgarian neo-Nazis attack and threaten immigrants in Bulgaria including Syria’s estimated 10,000 refugees. http://muftah.org/bulgarias-neo-nazis-wage-war-syrian-refugees/

 

Oxfam says donor funds must go to Syria and the impacted neighboring countries. http://beta.syriadeeply.org/op-eds/oxfam-kuwait-donors-funds-syrians-neighbors/#.UtbKMGDGtGk

 

 

 

Aleppo  provincehttps://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

 

At least 10 and perhaps as many as 26 people were killed Wednesday morning in a car bomb in Jarablous attributed to ISIS http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jan/15/irans-fm-discusses-peace-talks-with-syrias-assad/

On Wednesday morning, violent clashes took place between ISIS and Islamic battalion fighters and rebels near the town of Ratian, Jarablous, areas near the city of A’azaz, and the eastern countryside of Aleppo province . 3 mortars fell on Hrietan.

 

Tuesday, Islamist and rebel (other FSA) battalions took over Kafar Kalbin and Kafra, after clashes with ISIS.  The regime’s security services tortured to death one man from Darat Izza  A rebel attack killed 2 regime soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in the Salaheddin neighborhood, of Aleppo.  Regime forces bombarded areas of Bustan al-Qasr and a mortar fell on the Meridian area.

 

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

 

So far, 49 civilians reported to have died from malnutrition or lack of medical supplies in the besieged Yarmouk camp; which has been choked by the regime for several months. Several mortars fell on Halab street, the Qusoor neighbourhood and the Adawi area causing injuries.

 

Also on Yarmouk (English and Greek subtitles):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcDQ4alZbu4

 

Dara`a provincehttps://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

 

There was an airstrike in Dael (by the regime) here is a video of the aftermath:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ443XO6GdI  There was fierce artillery shelling of Jiza, and rebels destroyed a Doshka at the Nawa road frontline.

 

Regime shelling wounded a fighter at Inkhel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tanUb5wgDns

 

 

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

 

Regime forces bombed the city of Deir az-Zur after midnight yesterday.

 

 

 

 

Hama provincehttps://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

 

Regime forces are launching a raid and arrest campaign in the village of Zor Assors and shelling the village of al-Jwayz.    Violent clashes took place today (Wednesday) between the FSA and Assad’s forces at Muwak on the outskirts of Hamah and there was artillery shelling in the area.

 

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

39 fighters of the YPG were mourned today in Qamishli.  They were killed in clashes against ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamist rebel fighters near Tal-Brak and Tal-Hamis in the countryside near Qamishli from the end of December to the 7th of January 2014.  The YPG has retreated from the area now controlled by ISIS and other allied groups.

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

On Tuesday,  mortars hit the Alawite village of Fella, injuring at least 3 civilians.  Regime bombardment on the Houla area,killed 2 men and others were injured.  Clashes between rebels and regime forces supported by the NDF took place near the town of  al-Usiya.  Gunfire was heard on the Homs – Tartous road near the town of al-Mazra’a, followed by regime gunfire.  Regime forces hit the town of al-Ghento with heavy machine-guns.

Regime forces carried out raids and arrests in the Ghouta neighbourhood.  Regime bombardment on the al-Wa’er neighborhood killed one man.

40 (here given as 65) died trying to break the siege of Homs.

http://eaworldview.com/2014/01/syria-the-65-men-who-died-trying-to-break-the-siege-of-homs/

Rebel mortar attacks on the 12th of Jan. in Homs.   http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/syrian-government-shelling-kills-20-21502907

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

Islamic fighters carried out an ambush on ISIS on the north side of Saraqeb killing a Belgian commander in ISIS, known as the Amir of Saraqeb was killed, and another foreign ISIS fighter.  A third foreign fighter was injured and transported to Turkey.

Islamic movement fighters were killed and 10 others seriously injured (late Monday) by a large ISIS suicide car bomb explosion targeting a checkpoint and military motorcade between Ram Hamdan and Zardana   Assad’s forces shelled several areas in the northern neighborhood of Ma`arat al-Nu`man.

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

Regime forces bombarded villages near the town of Salma  on Tuesday. One ISIS fighter was killed in the northern countryside.

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

On Tuesday, the villages of the southern countryside of Quneitra were bombarded by regime forces, killing at least 4 civilians and injuring 17.  Clashes resumed near the town of al-Samadaniya al-Sharqiya, and regime forces continued bombardment there and brought in reinforcements from the National Defense Froces militia. There were reports that regime detained 15 civilians from the village of Shura, near Sa’sa’ town, and that regime forces were stationing themselves in houses there.

 

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

On Wednesday, it was learned that ISIS executed 2 civilians from Yabesa, five days ago. The two had been traveling from this Kurdish village to Tal Abyad to buy bread when ISIS took them.  Their bodies were found near the village of Talsolah, with their hands tied behind their backs and they had been tortured.

The ISIS has released many Islamic fighters today.

Further ISIS attacks:  http://syriahr.com/en/index.php?option=com_news&nid=1330&Itemid=2&task=displaynews#.UtY0BWDGtGl

On Tuesday, regime forces have advanced towards the western barrier of the 17th division, the base was under the control of an islamist movement but it retreated days ago. Members from the division were observed planting landmines by the western barrier. ISIS has granted control over the Tal Abyad border crossing to a local council from the city (Turkey had closed the crossing earlier. Meanwhile ISIS took full control of the city Raqqah city following several days of clashes.

On Sunday, ISIS recaptured much of its territory.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/12/us-syria-crisis-qaeda-idUSBREA0B0JD20140112

International:

14 Syrian rockets hit Arsaal in eastern Lebanon yesterday.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jan-14/244020-14-syria-rockets-hit-lebanons-arsal-source.ashx#axzz2qUVMvXzW

Gordon Brown speaks about the education aid needed for Syria’s refugees:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3a0ZR_PbFA

Lebanon’s prime minister, Najib Mikati calls for safe havens inside of Syria and for help with Syria’s refugees inside of Lebanon.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jan-15/244125-mikati-pleads-for-help-with-syrian-refugees.ashx#axzz2qUVMvXzW

NGOs pledge 14 million in Syrian relief campaign http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/01/ngos-pledge-400m-syria-relief-campaign-201411522535504457.html

Western countries’ intelligence representatives have reportedly been meeting with representatives of the Syrian government, despite the sanctions on Assad’s government in efforts to stem any backblow of jihadists to the West (or perhaps in the other direction?) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/world/middleeast/syria-western-intelligence-cooperation.html

Human Rights Watch issues a warning that Islamist fighting groups in Syria are eroding the rights of women and girls, enforcing Islamic dress rules, and disallowing free movement of women to work or school.  http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/13/syria-extremists-restricting-women-s-rights

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon warned that nearly half of Syrians needed humanitarian aid in his address to a one day donor conference being held in Kuwait City:  http://www.afp.com/fr/news/topstories/1242951/

Donors have pledged nearly $1.3 billion at this meeting:  http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2014/January/middleeast_January168.xml&section=middleeast

A new academic book on Syria’s television.  http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/16019/new-texts-out-now_rebecca-joubin-the-politics-of-l

 

 

Syria Update, January 1, 2014 – Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

1 Jan

Syria Update, December 31, 2013 – January 1, 2014   (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies.  By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll

On 28/12/13  185 Syrians were killed including 90 civilians,

130,433 Syrians killed from 18/3/2011 when the first protestor was  shot and killed in Dar’a until 30/12/2013.  The dead include 46,266 civilians (including 7,014 children and 4,695 women).

 

Disarmament teams gave up & ships returned to port, #Syria‘s chemicals not destroyed by 12/31/13 deadline. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/527994-ships-return-to-dock-as-syria-chemical-deadline-missed

 

A missile fired by Assad’s regular forces hit a bus in Aleppo today.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-31/242769-10-dead-as-syria-regime-shell-hits-bus-in-aleppo-city.ashx#axzz2p70lwxrj

 

Could the war in Syria last another 10 years? http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/index.cfm/articles/Will-the-Syrian-Civil-War-Last-10-More-Years/2013/12/30

 

Syria’s government said invitations to the Geneva II conference had not been sent out as planned by December 28th. Blamed the delay on oppositions delay in attendance list.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-31/242760-syria-says-peace-meet-invites-unsent-blames-opposition.ashx#axzz2p70lwxrj

 

 

 

An older woman describes hunger, lack of medicine, medical treatment, the cold and deprivation under the siege by Assad’s forces.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ3n5Yohszk

 

Ten videos on Syria from 2013 collected by Brown Moses which made a difference

http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/a-year-of-conflict-in-syria-in-ten_31.html

 

Syria is the deadliest country in the world for journalists according to the International Federation of Journalists – worse than Iraq.  108 journalists were killed in 2013 in Syria. http://www.dawn.com/news/1077513/108-journalists-killed-in-2013-syria-deadliest-ifj

 

 

 

Refugees and Relief:   In support of the Refugee Council’s effort to settle Syrian refugees in the U.K.  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/31/least-uk-syrian-refugees

 

 

 

Aleppo  provincehttps://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 missile fired by Assad’s regular forces hit a bus in Aleppo today.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-31/242769-10-dead-as-syria-regime-shell-hits-bus-in-aleppo-city.ashx#axzz2p70lwxrj

 

 

Violent clashes were fought between regular forces and forces of the revolution in the neighborhood of Maysaloon.  Regular forces bombarded areas in the town of  Tadaf

 

More than 517 people were killed in two weeks of continuous ‘barrel bombs’ dropped on Aleppo by helicopters and air force. This included 471 civilians, of these 151 children, 46 women, 34 revolutionary fighters and 12 ISIS fighters.

 

On Saturday, 64 civilians and 4 rebel fighters were killed. One of the rebel fighters died during clashes with regime forces in al-Rashdeen. Snipers killed two other rebel fighters in Salahadin and al-Khaldiyye neighborhoods.  Of the civilians, 25 were killed by (the so-called barrel bombs on the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood (3 women, 4 children and a young journalist. 14 civilians were killed in an airstrike on al-Maysir neighbourhood, including 4 women and 4 children. Regime bombardment killed three children in the city of A’zaaz.  Two civilians died from their injuries from airstrikes on al-Mash’had and al-Haidariyye a few days ago. 15 civilians, amongst them 5 children, were killed in an airstrike on areas in al-Marjeh neighbourhood about a week ago.

 

 

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

 

Regular forces bombed areas in the city of Yabroud and the Rima area near Yabroud.

 

Clashes between the regular forces and the FSA:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPRa3OPy71w&feature=youtu.be

On Saturday, 6 civilians and 10 rebel fighters were killed.  One rebel fighter was killed in clashes with regime forces in Jobar.  8 fighters were killed in clashes in al-Dameer, eastern and western al-Ghouta, and al-Reef al-Junoubi.. Two children died from injuries incurred by a rocket on Douma several days ago.

 

Dara`a provincehttps://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

 

On Saturday, 2 civilians and 1 rebel fighter were killed.  Regime bombardment on Mukhayam Daraa and the town of Oum Walad killed 2 men.

 

 

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

 

Assad forces bombarded areas in the neighborhood of the old airport.  Information was received about Jabhat Nusra’s bombing of 3 buildings where regime forces were stationed in the neighborhood of Jebailah with casualties among the regular forces. A car bomb  for the bombing of fighters Front victory three buildings stationed forces the system in the neighborhood Jubailah .  A car bomb blew up a commanding officer in the town of Asharh

 

On Saturday, 13 rebel fighters were killed. One of them was killed in clashes between regime forces and NDF fighters in  the village of al-Jafra village.  The others were killed in clashes with regime forces, among them a 14 year old rebel fighter and a rebel commander.

 

 

Hama provincehttps://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

 

Regular Syrian forces bombed areas in the town of Kafrzeita.  There were violent clashes between regular forces and revolutionary fighters dominated by the latter for several days.

 

 

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  Clashes took place between the fights and protection units of the Kurdish YPG and National Defense Forces near the train station in the city of al-Hassakeh.  A fighter died and two were wounded.

 

 

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

 

Five died after a mortar shell fell on Saha Hajj al-Atef in the neighborhood of Karam al-Shami in the afternoon.  The old areas of Homs were bombarded by regime forces.  A surface-to-surface missile fell on the neighborhood of Waer.

 

 

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

 

Some hopes and dreams for 2014 in Idlib http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ytwtDHiOpg&feature=youtu.be

 

On Saturday one civilian and 3 rebel fighters were killed or died of injuries. 2 fighters were killed in clashes with regular forces in Reef Homs. 1 man from the Sarmin town was tortured to death in the regime’s prison.

 

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

 

On Saturday, 2 civilians and 1 rebel fighter were killed. 1 rebel fighter died of wounds received earlier in clashes with regular forces near the 93rd division in the A’in I’ssa area. 2 children were killed by shells that fell on the al-Tabaqa.

 

 

International:

 

 

Lebanese army uses anti-aircraft defense on Syrian helicopters bombing Lebanese territory yesterday http://news.asiaone.com/news/world/lebanon-army-fires-syria-aircraft-after-raid-source

 

Soyuzneftegaz has signed a 90 million dollar deal with Damascus to explore offshore energy in the Mediterranean; an additional reason for Putin to continue supporting Assad.  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/27/putin_s_mediterranean_move#sthash.PUpuZNpw.dpbs

 

Syria asks the U.N. Security Council to prosecute Turkey and all countries supporting militants who are fighting the Assad government. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/12/31/342887/syria-asks-unsc-to-prosecute-turkey/

 

Russia will install Iskander surface (nuclear) missiles to Syria (according to Israeli sources)  http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/world/9691338.asp?scr=1

 

 

 

 

Syria Update, November 25, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Nov

Syria Update November 25, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 200 were killed on Friday (11/22/13) including 49 civilians

At least 160 opposition fighters were killed over two days (Saturday and Sunday) in an effort to break the regime siege on areas of southern Damascus. No estimates given on regime soldiers casualties, as yet.

11 deaths reported in Aleppo today.

Reaction from the opposition on the planned Geneva II talks http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/11/25/syria-geneva-un-peace-talks/3695995/

11,420 children have been killed in Syria: http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=62449

The Free Syrian Athletes Union mourned the death of Mustafa Al-Nakdali, Syrian wrestling champion, killed while fighting alongside opposition forces against regular troops in the eastern Al-Ghouta, in Rif Dimashq on Sunday.

Iranian fighters are shown here in Syria (along with fingers of the cameraman). You can briefly hear them communicating in Farsi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsh59Gxg8ig

Sunday, An assassination attempt on Syria’s Reconciliation Minister, Ali Haidar, killed his driver, but Haidar was not in the car according to the Syrian state news agency http://rt.com/news/minister-assassination-syria-negotiations-215/
However, the opposition said that Haidar was wounded in the attack.

An unsympathetic portrait of the changes in several of the largest salafi-jihadist fighting groups. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/11/21/rebels_inc?page=full

4 British Muslims have been identified as among those killed fighting in Syria. http://europenews.dk/en/node/74498

A newly-leaked cable (from 2010) on U.S.-Syrian intelligence cooperation. Suggests that Syria was exploiting U.S. fears of salafi-jihadist groups even then. Mamlouk claimed Syria was successful because “In principle, we don’t attack or kill them immediately. Instead, we embed ourselves in them and only at the opportune moment do we move.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/250462

Refugees and Relief:

Some Syrian victims of the fighting are being treated in Israel http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24998618

Book by a teen-age refugee: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Books/2013/Nov-21/238607-the-heartbreaking-story-of-a-courageous-teenage-refugee.ashx#axzz2laQfx6Ib

Kidnappings:

Jamie Dettmer, a Beast reporter tells how he was almost kidnapped by Syrian soldiers in Qamishli and much about the three-way struggle (rebels, Kurdish forces, Assad’s forces in the area, see below under Hassake) http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/25/how-i-escaped-assad-s-army-in-syria.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

11 were killed in Aleppo as rebels fired on Jamilia and 20 were injured according to SANA. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Nov-25/238878-11-dead-in-mortar-fire-on-aleppo-city-syria-state-media.ashx#axzz2lhn9HuAG

Today, the FSA blew up a building in Sheikh Maqsud with a mine.
Yesterday opposition battalions (of ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham in the new Islamic Movement alliance) strengthened their control over multiple villages in the southern Aleppo countryside, following a few days of fierce battles. Opposition forces gained control over the towns of Rasm Al-Sheikh, Rasm Ikerish, Yaman and Rasm Al-Helou, in addition to Sad’aya and Mazare’a Azan, among other towns. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2013/11/24/news-opposition-forces-seize-multiple-towns-southern-aleppo
Yamen Naddaf, a media activist was killed yesterday in Sheikh Saeed. http://syrianewsdesk.com/en/2013/11/24/news-media-activist-yamen-naddaf-killed-aleppo
Yesterday, the FSA targeted Brigade 80, targeted the towns of Nubl and Zahra and both military airports Alnayrab Kweiris
. The FSA shot at regime forces in the neighborhood of Ashrafieh
Fighting also focused on Khanaser.
On Saturday, regime airstrikes killed at least 40 in Aleppo. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25068112

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 rebel forces are taking over villages and checkpoints in the Eastern Ghouta in an advance. http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-rebels-press-advance-around-damascus-aleppo-monitor

Yesterday, the FSA hit the regime forces’ barracks at Kamal Masharaqah in Jobar
 with Grad missiles; also Dumayr military airport, and targeted regime forces’ enclaves in Barzeh
. The FSA targeted the vehicles administration [building] in Harasta, and the Republican Guard headquarters on Mount Qasioun.

Rebel forces’ consolidated their grip on the international highway #Homs to #Damascus in #Qalamoun area http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96kAHXcl9RM

The much-touted “Qalamoun offensive” (reported on by various journalists for about a month) may not start for a while. (Some on the Web claim it started on 11/15.) http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2013/11/syria-opposition-qalamoun-battle-war.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8604

However, 20 regime air strikes hit al-Nabk in al-Qalamoun on Saturday.

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

HRW’s Nadim Houry on Dara`a: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd3D3rhO7YU&feature=youtu.be

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

Rebels gained control of the al-Omar oilfield and a number of tanks and vehicles, killing a number of soldiers.

On the seizure of the oil field: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/world/middleeast/syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

From Qanat Deir al-Zur:

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

Yesterday: The FSA controlled the villages of Asafra and Albarghotah in the countryside east of Hama. 
The FSA fired mortars at the Alhamamyat checkpoint and the Saman checkpoint killing regime forces. The FSA 
liberated the Abidha checkpoint and also inflicted casualties there.

Saturday: Four martyrs are listed in (from) Hama — Abdul Kader Ahmad al Sayfi killed in shelling onto Hama countryside.
 2. Ahmad Faisal Yousuf al Hasan killed in a battle at al-Quneitra
http://goo.gl/aVVJ8u
http://goo.gl/DbRLhL
3. Khaled Sha’ban of the FSA killed in the clashes in the city of Douma. 
4. Jameel Shaleesh killed by regime forces in Harem
Regime forces stormed al Faraya neighborhood blocking all entrances, and arrested many young men.
 Regime forces made many arrests in Tareeq Halab al-Qadim and took them to al A’laf checkpoint.

There was shelling with barrel bombs on the town of Eqerebat. And al-Hamadaniyya. Intense shelling from the al-Rahjan checkpoint onto the villages outside of Salamiyya. Shelling with barrel bombs on the mosques of Kaferzeita.
Helicopters (regime) flew over and dropped barrel bombs on the mosque of Kafrenboda.
Western Hama province: Shelling from al Azezya , al Nahel and Joreen checkpoints onto the villages of al-Salhia and Zayzoon villages and al Jood farm.
Southern Hama province: Heavy shelling by the regime from checkpoint in the loyalist villages on the town of Aqrab
The FSA forces liberated Asmad , al Barghoteya , al Asafra villages and killed 35 regime troops near Abu Balaya, also inflicting casualties with a bomb to the east of Ma’ar Shohur. There were heavy clashes at the al-Kafer checkpoint to the west of Taib al-Imam.
The FSA liberated the checkpoint of al Webda farms inflicting casualties and taking cars and ammunition; also the checkpoint of Ibn al-Noona

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

Sunday: The FSA destroyed the PKK barrier in the village of al-Moharraket near alQahtaniyah.

Saturday: Was al-Hassakeh Martyrs Day – activists documented the killing of three villagers of Alaguebash who had been detained by shabiha of the PKK. They were among 30 detainees who were charged with cooperating with the FSA (the FSA killed 21 on the other side).
Major bombings in the city of Qamishli and 2 explosions inside of the city (believed to be at the headquarters of the Worker’s Party and also a car bomb).
Another car bomb hit a checkpoint 10 km. southeast of the outskirts of Qahtaniyya. Hospitals in the city were full. (Much of this report was unclear as posted, so not including it)

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

FSA targeted a regime forces compound in the refinery yesterday.

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

Rebels blew up the Haboosh checkpoint; casualties reported. They also shelled he brick factory.
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 rebels targeted the military airport and also shelled regiment 17.
International:

Pope Francis (along with Putin, with whom he is meeting) calls for a negotiated settlement in Syria. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/05/pope-francis-syria_n_3872435.html

2 Swedish journalists have been kidnapped in Syria http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=2353580

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State says a peace conference planned for January 22, 2014 in Geneva is the best opportunity to form a “new transitional governing body.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/25/us-syria-crisis-talks-kerry-idUSBRE9AO0P420131125

At Geneva, the parties are supposed to work out a way to implement the principles in this full final communiqué for the Action Group for Syria (from June) http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Syria/FinalCommuniqueActionGroupforSyria.pdf

Opinions:

From Amal Hanano
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20131123/OPINION/131129704

That the Iran-US agreement will not likely affect the Syrian revolution:
http://www.arabnews.com/news/483181

That the Iran-US agreement will not help negotiations on Syria
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2013/1125/Does-Iran-nuclear-deal-pave-way-for-Syria-compromise-Not-so-fast

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

22 Nov

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

Tuesday’s death toll: 140 killed including 35 civilians.

Monday’s death toll: 134 killed including 38 civilians.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is posting a request for “expressions of interest” from companies who want a role in “the treatment and disposal of hazardous and non- hazardous organic and inorganic chemicals” in Syria. http://rt.com/news/opcw-syria-chemicals-firms-092/

It is also trying to find a port to serve as a location to destroy the chemicals. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/21/us-syria-crisis-chemical-idUSBRE9AK0Z020131121

Beyond the Sunni-Alawi dichotomy which the Assad regime has exploited: http://pulsemedia.org/2013/11/21/beyond-the-sunni-alawi-dichotomy/

Refugees and Relief:

Authorities are trying to secure 8,000 trailers for Zaatari camp in Jordan. http://jordantimes.com/authorities-seeking-to-secure-8000-trailers-for-zaatari

Refugees’ situation in Lebanon is even more dire than in Jordan and winter is arriving: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-dajani/syrian-refugees-lebanon_b_4310007.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

Assad’s regular forces bombarded areas in Halab al-Qadima (Old Aleppo). The air force used heavy machine guns on parts of the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood. Rebel fighters launched mortar shells on the al-A’mouri checkpoint in Salah al-Din. A regime sniper was shot by a rebel sniper in the al-Taslih building.

5 civilians, including 4 children, were killed by aerial bombardment with heavy machine guns on the village of Souran 1 child was killed and several injured by shells that fell on the town of Nubul.

Regime forces bombarded al-Bab, leading to the death of a woman and her young daughter, several others were injured. The air force bombarded the industrial city in Aleppo for the 3rd time, ground forces are also bombarding the area. Regime forces also bombarded the towns of Mayer and al-Zahra. 2 rebels, one a commander, were killed in clashes near the 80th brigade base. Unknown gunmen kidnapped a media activist last night in the town of Deir Hafer, and there was an attempt to kidnap a rebel.

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
A mortar shell fell on the al-Hamra area near the al-Manakhiliya and al-A’srouniya. Several mortar shells fell on the al-Sebki garden in the al-Sha’lan area and areas in the al-Mazza 86. Assad’s forces launched several shells onto the northern part of the Jobar neighborhood.

A mortar fell in the Mazra’a neighbourhood, near the Russian embassy, and another mortar fell in the Umaya hospital area in Rukn al-Din neighborhood; casualties and injuries reported. Mortars were launched onto George Khoury square, Qassa’ neighbourhood, Abbasiyeen square and in the Bab Touma area.

Regime bombardment was resumed onto Qaboun and regime forces also bombarded the Tadamun and Barzeh neighbourhoods. Regime forces earlier bombarded the Jobar neighbourhood and there were intense clashes there.

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

Five Jordanian writers were wounded yesterday in Dar`a as their bus was hit by a roadside bomb. (SANA reported only two wounded) They had gone as a delegation to meet with senior Syrian officials. http://www.cortezjournal.com/article/20131121/API/1311210567/Aid-group:-Syrian-refugees-debt-spiraling-upward

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

Massive barrel bombs have been used by the Assad regime in different parts of Syria. Here is an unexploded barrel bomb near Kafar Zeita, Hama.

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

Yesterday at least 8 people were killed in Rif (the countryside outside) Tal Tamer, the dead included YPG volunteers, civilians and 2 fighters. This follows on ISIS, Nusra and rebels attacked the villages of Gheibash and Asfuriya to the southwest of Tal Tamer.

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

Assad’s forces bombarded the village of al-Sa’n al-Aswad and the Hosh Hejo.
13 were killed including 2 children, 1 man and his son, by 2 mortar shells which hit the al-Mahatta neighborhood near the military intelligence building; 2 combatants from the military intelligence were also killed. 5 civilians were killed by a mortar shell that fell near the al-Safir hotel in the al-Insha’at neighbourhood of Homs city. Several mortar shells fell on the al-Wa’er neighbourhood. At least 18 were killed in Insha’att and Karam al-Shami. Here’s a photo of the mortar which fell in Karam al-Shami where there was a school – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=498402226933726&set=a.276415299132421.61643.274193632687921&type=1&theater

2 men from Taldo in the al-Houla area were found dead in Kafernan– activists say that regular forces and pro-regime militants killed them.

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

Intermittent clashes were fought by the ISIS and rebel fighters in Sarmada after ISIS fighters entered the town yesterday and confiscated 14 pickups belonging to a resident, accusing him of cooperating with the regime. Clashes broke out today when ISIS attempted to storm the town from the al-Danna area.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has imposed what it claims is shari3a approved clothing on schools in the areas it has absolute or even partial control over.

Members of the ISIS distributed leaflets in an all girls school in Saraqeb, telling all girls from grade 5 or older to wear the ISIS’ extremist interpretation of what Islamic law prescribes women to wear. The leaflets warn that all girls who do not follow thes rules will be banned from entering the school.

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

Yesterday, violent clashes took place between regime and rebel forces near the 17th brigade base as the rebels advanced. Jabhat al-Nusra raised its (al-Qa’ida-linked) flag over a Shi’ite shrine, the shrine of Owais al-Qarni south east of Raqqah city, which is a pilgrimage destination. The rebel group which had taken this area after the regime forces withdrew pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra.

International:

Turkey has accused Assad of stepping up attacks during this period as the Geneva talks are delayed and calls for Geneva to be convened.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/20/us-syria-crisis-turkey-idUSBRE9AJ0PY20131120

Abdelkader Saleh, slain FSA commander is mourned in Qatar. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2013/11/21/In-Qatar-desert-Syrian-opposition-mourns-fallen-commander.html

German President, Joachim Gauck visited Syrian refugees at Camp Friedland and said:

“We have heard the things that we’ve heard on the TV, the radio, that we’ve read in newspapers – of destroyed houses, extinguished human life, damage, trauma. But when you look into the faces of people, then it’s different from just reading the numbers of victims. Then you feel very clearly what the country needs for refugees, for people in need: an open heart and open arms, too
I praise heartily our readiness to take in refugees and to bring asylum seekers into the asylum process. But I also say, in the face of this humanitarian catastrophe, that we can also do more”.

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16000234-president-gauck-talks-with-syrian-refugees

The Paris-based Union de Banques Arabes Francaises (UBAF) will release Syrian funds to pay for food deals, suggesting the Assad govt. is making progress in financing imports of staple supplies.
Western countries have imposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad’s government, but these do not apply to food. France has cleared the use of frozen Syrian assets as part of an EU scheme to allow funds to be used for humanitarian ends. AJE. (So this means those with the Assad govt. should be able to obtain food, while those against him will continue to starve.) http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/21/us-syria-crisis-food-ubaf-idUSBRE9AK0X220131121

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

9 Nov

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

Thursday’s Death toll: 130 Syrians killed including 26 civilians and 33 regime soldiers.

U.S. presses Syria to participate in peace talks. (Apparently they did not hear what Syrians told the Russians). http://www.newsdaily.com/article/b4c822e8e783b1ef185da347dc7e7e3a/us-presses-syrian-opposition-to-agree-to-peace-talks

The new coalition Jaish al-Islam will reportedly get funding from Saudi Arabia and training from Pakistan. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/syria-crisis-saudi-arabia-spend-millions-new-rebel-force?CMP=twt_gu

Al-Jazeera aired a message from Ayman al-Zawahiri from last May when he dissolved Jabhat al-Nusra in favor of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS). As Jabhat al-Nusra rejected this order, it’s not really clear what he or al-Jazeera intend by the repetition of al-Qa’ida’s order. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/519756-al-qaeda-chief-zawahiri-says-isis-to-be-dismantled-to-operate-as-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-

Refugees and Relief

The United Nations has launched a major campaign to vaccinate refugees against polio: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/health/20-million-kids-in/879908.html

German scientists writing in Lancet, the medical magazine warned that vaccinating Syrian refugees will not likely stop the spread of polio (it needs to be addressed inside of the Syria as well). This strain of polio may have come from Pakistan. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24854920

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

Syrian regime troops unleashed a very heavy barrage on rebel-held areas around Aleppo’s International airport at 5:30 a.m. local time, focusing on the Brigade 80 base (which formerly was held by the air defense force) trying to retake it. Rebels now control the road from here to al-Bab and don’t want to lose that route.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/08/us-syria-crisis-aleppo-idUKBRE9A70JN20131108

9n. Sfeira: Fierce shelling with explosive barrels by warplanes targets the city
19h Talaaran | Clashes between the Free Syrian Army and Assad forces on the town’s outskirts.
16h Fierce clashes between FSA and regime forces in Khaldyeh neighborhood of Aleppo. A military convoy consisting of four tanks tried to break into Khalidiya and Bain Zeid neighborhoods
15h FSA was targeting regime groups stationed in an-Nairab military air base and the oil factory with mortar shells resulting in direct hits.
14h Regime artillery shelling on Bani Zeid and Alshrafiyyeh districts.
14h Fierce clashes between the FSA and regime forces in Khalidiyyeh, Bani Zeid and Alshrafiyyeh districts.
9h Regime warplane bombardment on Sabkhet Aljabbul area in the eastern rural area.

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

A mortar fell on the Tadamun neighborhood, causing injuries. Regime forces bombarded the Jobar neighborhood. Regime forces bombarded the Madniya area of the Qadam neighborhood. 5 rockets fell on the Qassa’ neighbourhood of central Damascus, 1 mortar fell on George Khoury square, no reports of casualties. Clashes on Filasteen street in the Yarmouk camp.

Parts of al-Hejeira and al-Mqeilabiya were shelled by regime forces. 2 mortars were launched into the al-Assad suburb. Regime forces bombarded Deir Attiya.

In Muaddamiyyat Asham
: Fierce clashes between the FSA and regime forces on several fronts coupled with fierce regime artillery shelling on the city. Clashes are most intensified on the northern and western fronts. One civilian was killed in artillery shelling of the factories area.
Assad forces launched rockets at the towns of Al-Blaliyyeh, Hizrma and Nashabiyyeh as they clashed with the FSA on several front lines in Almarj area.
Regime artillery shelling on the city of Zabadani, Madaya and the western mountain in the area. There was fierce shelling on Bait Sahm
 and al-Asali. Fierce clashes on the outskirts of Daraya between the FSA and regime forces.
Shellng resumed on al-Milahah and Hajirah al-Balad.
In al-Qassa
, several civilians were injured when a mortar shell fell near Burj Arrus. Two civilians were killed in Bab Tuma and others injured when a mortar shell fell on al-Sheikh Ruslan.

Several civilians were killed and injured as a result of regime artillery shelling on the liberated districts in al-Sayida Zainab amid fierce clashes between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Assad forces on several front lines in the city.
Regime shelling on Douma and Yabroud and on the town of Khan Asheeh in the western Ghouta.
Alqadam: 
Assad forces have struck Almathniyah area with rocket shelling.
In Harasta, the FSA clashed with regime forces near the administration of military motor vehicles.
Damascus Rural | Harasta
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is fiercely clashing with Assad forces near the Administration of Military Motor Vehicles.
The regime forces launched a scud missile at northern Syrian territories from al-Qutaifah.

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

Parts of Inkhil and Nawa cities were bombarded by regime forces, 1 defected soldier was killed as a result in Nawa, and several were injured. Regime forces bombed the town of Ma’arba.

18h Heaving shelling and rocket fire on Tareeq Assud and on Eastern Ghariyyeh

18h Inkhel
: Assad forces are shelled the city with artillery and clashed with the Free Syrian Army on the eastern front line of the city.
17h Nahteh
: One civilian was killed and a number of others injured as a result of regime artillery shelling on the town.
16h Regime forces fired on an-Naeemeh
 and launched rockets at Saida.
16h Regime forces shelled al-Mseifrah
 and shelled Ataman, and fired artillery at Kaheel.
Many civilians injured in the shelling on Tareeq Assud and Dar’aa Albalad
14h Regime artillery shelling on Busra Ashaam
 on the eastern quarter.
13h At Inkhil
, the FSA targeted the 15th brigade with mortar shells.
8 h. Regime shelling resumed on Dael.

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

The ISIS executed an Alawi family: 4 children 2 women and 2 men who were picking olives in their farm in Khneifees village, near Salamiya city. Clashes took place near the villages of Taloul al-Hamr and Khneifis between rebels and ISIS against regime forces and the Popular Committees. 4 children died from an explosion from the remnants of regime bombardment on the village of Rasm al-Ahmar.

14h Fierce clashes between FSA and regime forces near Samman and Kafr checkpoints along with shelling from Zein Al-Abdeen mountain targets the liberated villages
13h Jabal Shaheshbo: Rocket launchers shelling targeted the mountain’s villages
12hHarbanfseh: Many wounded were reported due to rocket launchers shelling in the town
10h Fierce clashes between FSA and regime forces in Aleppo Road neighborhood near the civil defense checkpoint
9h Harbanfseh: Continuous shelling
9h Sahl Al-Ghab: Artillery shelling from Jourein checkpoint targetted Hweiz and Hweijeh villages
8h Zeroun: Fierce artillery shelling from the rural development checkpoint targetted 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

On Thursday, sources confirmed that the YPG (Kurdish forces) took over over 2 villages west of Tal Tamer city, on the highway to Aleppo, after violent clashes with the ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and allied rebel groups. Yesterday the YPG took over the villages of Ghebesh and Tal Shemarin, which are inhabited by Syrian Assyrians.

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

Rebels captured a huge arms depot in Homs at Mahin yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WARWstvdvKM

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

At 17:00, Jabal Zawyeh: Fierce warplanes shelling targets Al Rami village
At 15:00, Khan Sheikhoun, FSA targeted the al-Faqeir checkpoint with mortar shells. At 12:00 Khan Sheikhoun: There was fierce artillery shelling from Khzanat camp targets west of the city
At 11:00 Qmeinas: Fierce artillery bombardment from the brick factory targeted the village.

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

Violent clashes between regime and rebel forces near the 17th battalion, near Raqqah city; reports of human losses on both sides. activists accuse the ISIS of blowing up the al-Sheikh Bandar shrine in Ratla village before the Ayman al-Zawahiri speech was aired (on al-Jazeera)

International:
Turkey’s police continued clashing with Kurdish protesters over construction of a border wall at Cizre which the latter say is an effort to separate Kurds in Syria from Kurds in Turkey. These clashes have been ongoing for several days. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdbQTxhSCkA

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State wants the international community to step up its support for Syria’s refugees, warning of the stress which host countries are undergoing: http://jordantimes.com/kerry-urges-intl-action-on-syrian-refugee-crisis

Syria’s main opposition, the National Coalition refuses to participate in talks in Moscow. Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed the SNC said it would previously participate, but in fact, it has been adamant about not participating in dialogue with Assad and not unless it is clear that Assad will leave power.
http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/syrian-national-coalition-has-refused-moscow-talks-russian-foreign-ministry-1.1533536

U.S. presses Syria to participate in peace talks. (Apparently they did not hear what Syrians told the Russians). http://www.newsdaily.com/article/b4c822e8e783b1ef185da347dc7e7e3a/us-presses-syrian-opposition-to-agree-to-peace-talks

Syria Update, July 26, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

27 Jul

Syria Update, July 26, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Thursday’s death toll: More than 160 killed.

Wednesday’s death toll: More than 180 people killed.

Tuesday’s death toll: 131 killed including 9 children.

Will Russia place Iskander surface missiles in Syria? http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/world/9691338.asp

The death toll in Syria has surpassed 100,000 (and is probably higher than any estimates due to the difficulties of identifying missing and deceased persons)
http://www.france24.com/en/20130725-un-leader-ban-ki-moon-says-syria-death-toll-tops-100000

Territorial divisions in Syria’s new “normal” (war)
http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21582319-territorial-divisions-are-deepening-regardless-regime-and-rebel-advances

Amnesty International shows that pro-government forces were behind the killings of 138 killed in Baniyas and 130 in Baydah and said that civilians are at risk of summary execution in Tartous. http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/syria-stop-extrajudicial-executions-of-civilians-for-military-gains

Egyptian-American man reported killed in Syria in a battle between Islamist opposition groups and Kurdish militia fighters. http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/4415705-74/ibrahim-syria-syrian#axzz2aBwWDEc7

Hof explains key blocks to US military aid to Syria. http://beta.syriadeeply.org/2013/07/capitol-hill-syrian-fault-lines/#.Ue_osWT71cQ

US Congressional blocks on aiding opposition lifted (?) http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/22/us-usa-syria-arms-idUSBRE96L0W520130722

Sectarian cleansing. Version 1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/22/syria-sunnis-fear-alawite-ethnic-cleansing

Sectarian cleansing. Version 2. Assad’s plan is to cleanse many areas of Homs province of Sunni Muslims. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10195849/Bashar-al-Assads-militias-cleansing-Homs-of-Sunni-Muslims.html?fb

Syrian Islamist leader, Abu Musab freed on Sunday after clashes between opposition groups. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jul-22/224559-syrian-islamist-freed-after-inter-rebel-clashes.ashx#axzz2ZieLNGXS

Refugees and Relief:

The United Nations is concerned about the detention of Syrian refugees in Egypt.

Syrian refugee crisis Guardian animation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2013/jul/25/syria-refugee-crisis-a-day-in-the-life

Kidnapped/Abducted:

The French foreign ministry confirmed that photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie has been released from captivity in Syria
https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/franco-us-photographer-held-in-syria-released

Vigil held for journalist James Foley
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/prayer-vigil-us-journalist-missing-syria

Prisoners:

One of thousands of prisoners Maher Tahan: a member of the national coordinating body , a nonviolent political and humanitarian activist. Born in 1981. MA in English literature. He worked in the translation field for a while, and has also worked in the relief field. He was detained with Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Khair in 09/20/2012 from Damascus International Airport while returning from a visit to China, and was never heard of until now.
We, the undersigned, want the freedom of Maher Tahan
https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-the-torture-of-the-syrian-detainees-أوقفوا-تعذيب-المعتقلين-السوريين/حملة-للإفراج-عن-ماهر-طحان-campaign-for-the-release-of-maher-tahan/555956181127185
Overview http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/26/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE96P0GM20130726

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

Regime forces launched a surface-to-surface missile into the Bab al-Nayrab neighborhood, targeting the ISIS and other opposition branches, but it hit civilian buildings killing many and injuring others. Regime forces also bombarded the Salahuddin and Rashdin neighborhoods and clashes took place in Rashdin.

Opposition fighters bombarded the Military Academy in al-Hamadaniya with Grad missiles and clashes took place on the Aleppo-Damascus highway.

Yesterday, 6 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham were killed by an airstrike on their base, which was a children’s school, near Qadi Askar roundabout. The opposition attacked the Hamadaniya stadium checkpoint with 2 home-made rockets. Two rockets hit the al-Qatana neighborhood and one hit near the al-Huda mosque in Saif al-Dawla yesterday early in the morning.

The air force bombarded the town of al-Huta, near Anjara city. The opposition attacked regime positions in the towns of Nubul and Zahra’ Fighters from the ISIS, based in al-Maliya by A’zaz, detained 6 fighters from the Asifat al-Shamal battalion who have been fighting at the Mengh airport because the latter had taken issue with ISIS raiding homes A’zaz.

Earlier this week: Clashes between regime forces and Liwa’ Jabhat al-Akrad took place Ashrafiya. The Shari’a Council of Aleppo detained 4 fighters from the Saddam Hussein battalion in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood. (That battalion had tortured a civilian on a video released a few days ago). A rocket hit near the high school in al-Midan and there were clashes near the gas plant.

On the 22nd and 23rd of July the opposition killed 150 regime forces in Khan al-Asal. About 51 of these were summarily executed by the opposition.

The air force bombarded the Qadi Askar neighbourhood while the opposition bombarded the towns of Nubul and Zahra’

Opposition offensive captures three villages in Aleppo province. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jul-23/224700-syrian-rebels-capture-three-villages-near-aleppo.ashx#axzz2ZpFVHfUQ

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 Free Syrian Army liberated several buildings overnight which were being used as regime bases in the industrial district north of the district, including the building of the electricity company and the oxygen factory.

Early this morning, regime continued its bombardment of Zabadani injuring several people. Clashes resumed on the al-Bahariya front and the eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian air force bombarded areas of the Jobar neighborhood and also hit it with mortars. Clashes took place between regime and rebel forces on the edges of al-Qaboun after the regime forces had tried to storm the area. The regime forces bombarded Barzeh and al Qaboun neighbourhood, 2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with the Palestinian Popular Committee in Yarmouk camp and with regime forces in Jobar.

On Thursday: 17 people including women and children were killed in a car-bomb that went off in the al-Suyouf square in the Jaramana suburb.

Also 6 civilians from Yarmouk camp were killed. 4, including a child were killed in the shelling of the camp.

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

Regime forces bombarded the city of an-Naimah today, three times in less than five hours. The regime forces launched rockets on Tseel and shelled al-Harrah.
On Thursday, 2 rebels, 10 civilians were killed including 2 children killed in the town of Jasim.

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 Sheikh Yassin neighbourhood of Deir Ezzour was bombarded by regime forces, no reports of casualties. The Jbeila and Muwazafeen neighbourhoods were bombarded by regime forces at dawn.

Thursday was the 404th day of Assad’s military campaign on the city of Deir az-Zur. Heavy clashes took place in al-Sinaa. Two of those killed are here:

Hussein Abdulrahman Al-Hamoud

Ahmed Hamdan Altama

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

One civilian killed on Thursday.

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

On Thursday night the ISIS and its allies bombarded the village of Sweidiyya and then, clashes broke out between the YPG and the ISIS, al-Nusra and opposition battalions carrying on until morning. The ISIS and its allies also attacked the village of al-Yusifiya, and the al-Sheikh gas station, which is on the Tal Kojar road under the control of the YPG. Sporadic clashes are continuing.

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

Shelling of Khaldiyya today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb2q04IMq5A&feature=youtu.be

Two missiles hit Waar today, and eight people were killed today in Homs.

Damage here in the tomb and mosque of Khalid bin al-Walid in Homs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F83AIA0OhU&feature=youtu.be

Regime shelling of as-Sikhneh killed three civilians from Tadmor.

Late last night it was reported that regime forces bombarded the area by the Omari mosque, the Ferzat clock, the area south of the security branch in Rastan, and near Talbisa. The regime bombarded Khaldiyya and the Old neighbourhoods of Homs at dawn. A regime sniper killed woman from the Houla area.

Yesterday, the 7-storey building opposite to Kaheel tower was turned into dust as a result of the 
brutal shelling on Jorat Al-Shayyah.

Four surface-to-surface missiles hit al-Khaldyiah on Thursday in addition to hundreds of shells and rockets are falling onto the districts of Al-Khaldyiah , Al-Qosour and Old Homs districts.

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 Syrian military bombarded the village of Basamis in Jabal al-Zawiya from the Latakia-Ariha road, killing 10 civilians. The air force bombarded the town of Kafarlata killing 6 civilians including 2 children and the air force bombed the village of Nahla twice.

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

Clashes between the ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel fighters and the YPG resulted in the deaths of 2 YPG, and several opposition and ISIS fighters between the village of al-Yabsa and th Tal Abyad. Kurdish activists reported that the YPG captured several fighters and took over several cars with heavy machine-guns and weapons.

Earlier this week Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham blew up several houses belonging to Kurdish families in Tal Abyad. The ISIS claimed these houses belonged to people from Liwa’ Jabhat al-Akrad or the YPG, or that weapons had been fired from these homes. The ISIS also blew up the People’s Assembly building run by the Kurdish Democratic Society Movement. The YPG and Jabhat al-Akrad took over the village of Tal Fanda.

The air force bombarded areas of the city of al-Tabqah.

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

Russia evacuated its military personnel from its small naval station in Tartous.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russia-reports-pullout-from-small-base-in-syria/2013/06/26/4602b63e-de55-11e2-b797-cbd4cb13f9c6_story.html

International:

British Ambassador, Mark Lyell Grant said Ahmed al-Jarba, the Syrian National Coalition president gave a positive message to the United Nations Security Council today. http://blogs.aljazeera.com/topic/syria/british-ambassador-said-un-security-council-received-very-positive-message-syrian

More on Syrian opposition leaders meeting with the UNSC http://www.voanews.com/content/syria-opposition-leaders-meet-un-security-council/1711013.html

The Turkish government is concerned by the actions of militias of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria and met with them today. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jul-26/225175-turkey-to-warn-syrian-kurdish-group-over-dangerous-moves-erdogan.ashx#axzz2aCrBGO42

The Pentagon presents options on Syria showing its reluctance to get involved. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/world/middleeast/pentagon-outlining-options-to-congress-suggests-syria-campaign-would-be-costly.html?_r=0

Opinion: Obama Needs a Policy on Syria
http://www.gulf-times.com/Mobile/Opinion/189/details/360512/Obama-administration-needs-a-policy-on-Syria

Salafist radicalization in Lebanon as a result of the Syrian spillover: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-syrian-spillover-and-salafist-radicalization-in-lebanon