Tag Archives: Dar`a

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)

Territorial divisions in Syria’s new “normal” (war)

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


The French foreign ministry confirmed that photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie has been released from captivity in Syria

Vigil held for journalist James Foley


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
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:


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

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.


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

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

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

8 Jul

Syria Update, June 27, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Preliminary death toll:  At least 90 killed.

Saturday’s death toll: More than 70 including 19 civilians.

Ahmad Jarba, the newly elected head of the SNC offers a truce in Homs for the month of Ramadan. (Israeli, Chinese and a few western sources have reported so far) http://big5.xinhuanet.com/gate/big5/news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-07/08/c_132520113.htm

The Muslim Brotherhood of Syria calls for arms from the West: http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/07/syria-crisis-brotherhood-idINDEE96605N20130707

Ahmad Assi Jarba was elected to represent the Syrian National Coalition on Saturday. http://www.arabnews.com/news/457274

Israeli submarine may have hit http://osnetdaily.com/2013/07/did-an-israeli-dolphin-submarine-just-bypass-the-russian-s-300-batteries-in-syria/
See also under Latakia below.

A Tamarrod Syria was set up and after only 12 hours, the Syrian regime arrested its Facebook administrator

Prices have risen and are squeezing Syrians as the Syrian pound falls: http://www.newsdaily.com/world/599bbe88ce3324cffb67094f287a5826/economic-disaster-adds-to-syrians-woes

Assad was enthused by the fall of President Morsi, but hardline groups (which Reuters portrays as representing most of the opposition) are unhappy. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/07/us-syria-crisis-islamists-idUSBRE96606K20130707

Fidaa al-Bali, known as Mohammed Moaz, citizen journalist killed in Syria. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/world/middleeast/activist-who-documented-syrian-wars-toll-became-its-victim.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Kuwaiti doctor killed near the Turkish border: https://www.facebook.com/sawsanoor/posts/10151756895397812

Refugees and Relief:
Two of three kidnapped German aid workers are released: http://www.dw.de/dangerous-situation-for-christians-and-aid-workers/a-16934286

The market place at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is nicknamed the Champs Élysées http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/2013/07/jordan-zaataris-champs-elysees/

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

Aleppo Central Prison was shelled, killing at least 6 and others were wounded when the prison was fired on later. Clashes continue as the prison is besieged, besieged between the regime forces and the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Sham and the Ahrar al-Sham battalions.

Clashes between pro-regime gunmen, regime forces and opposition forces took place on the eastern side of Zahra and Nubul: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/syria-rebels-pound-besieged-shiite-towns
Near Zahra, three opposition fighters were killed including one non-Syrian Arab and 25 were wounded.

In Aleppo, clashes were fought in the Sheikh Maqsoud and the Ashrafiya neighborhoods, in the farmland near the Rashdin neighbourhood, and near the police department in the Salhin neighborhood. The Syrian air force bombarded areas in the city of Tel Rif’at. The opposition targeted regime arms depots at the Kweiris military airport, causing explosions and fires to break out.

In western Aleppo province, the Syrian military is trying to make inroads against the opposition in Rashedeen http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=60fWDT5b1-4

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 Syrian air force bombarded Douma killing 7 people (1 child and 6 men) and injuring at least 10.

Today, the regime forces based at the Mezzeh military airport bombarded the towns and cities of the eastern Ghouta.

A special report and appeal from/on the Eastern Ghouta addressed as: “Letter to Western Intellectuals ” by Yassin al-Hajj Saleh (appeared today in Le Monde) – “Eastern Ghouta is a region inhabited today by a million people, about two million less than it had before the revolution. After the establishment of the armed revolution and being the starting point for fighters in the Damascus [area], the Ghouta has been completely encircled for several months. This reversal of the situation is due to the significant military and logistical support to the regime by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese and Iraqi militias loyal to Tehran. In addition, I witnessed the cruel lack of arms and ammunition on the side of freedom fighters, as well as the lack of food. Many fighters take only two meals a day. The situation would be worse if they were not the children of the region, defending their homes and families.

Cities and villages of the Ghouta that I visited during the last three months are undergoing blind daily aerial bombardment as heavy artillery, and every day people are killed, mostly civilians. I lived for a month at a medical center under “civil protection” and I saw all those who died from the bombs.”

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 warplanes bombed the village of Saida.

Deir az-Zur province:

Today is the 388th day of the Assad regime’s military campaign on the city of Deir az-Zur.

On Friday, the regime forces targeted al-Ordi, al-Kanamat, al-Shekkh Yassin and in al-Sina’a, clashes were fought. Regime forces launched a campaign of raids and arrests, which targeted many young civilians. Effects of the shelling in al-Sina’a http://youtu.be/0t434Hwj-k4

The regime forces targeted the town of al-Mrei’ah.

Killed in Deir az-Zur : Saleh Khalil Hussein, Yasser Ammar Thallaj, Hassan Adnan Thallaj, and in the village of Htalh, Saleh Alwan.

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

An IED hit a bus in the city of Salamiyya which was carrying workers from the al-Bataniyat factory, which is part of the defense industry with reports of casualties. The regime forces shelled the villages of Jabal Shihshbo and the village of Hurbinafse. Regime forces with heavy vehicles and bulldozers stormed the town of Hayalein, and they detained some citizens of the town.

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

Regime forces continue to bombard the Khaldiya neighbourhood and the Old neighborhoods of Homs, using mortar and artillery shells in all-out effort for the ninth day. Shelling continued on through the night. Several buildings were destroyed and some are on fire. The air force earlier bombarded the neighbourhoods.

Two-thirds of Homs has been destroyed according to some sources due to bombardment: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/07/07/Two-thirds-of-Syria-s-Homs-rebel-area-destroyed-NGO-group-says-.html

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

A large number of people were killed in the town of al-Dana by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, yesterday following clashes. The leader of the Hamza Assad Allah brigade and his brother were decapitated according to a leader of an opposition brigade and their bodies were found near a garbage container.

Also see: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/world/middleeast/tension-between-rebel-groups-intensifies-in-syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Latakia province:

The regime shelled Salma and nearby villages from Nabi Younis. Here raids on rural areas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjjsHXUzMp8

A huge explosion destroyed the Latakia depot near Tartous last week. This was an attack by Israel, even though the Free Syrian Army took credit: http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2013/07/07/israel-destroyed-syrian-weapons-depot/

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
Rebel fighters stormed a house in the Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood of Raqqah city, 2 civilians were detained. Activists report no reason for their detention.


Two small roadside bombs, detonated minutes apart and wounded four people this morning near Hermel, Lebanon. The first bomb exploded on Sunday as a civilian vehicle passed along the main highway from the town of Baalbek towards the Syrian border, just 200 meters from an army checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Hermel at the al-Mahatta junction. The second bomb exploded when a military vehicle, a pickup and a van carrying schoolchildren arrived on the scene. Security officials believe the incident is related to the Syrian crisis. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jul-08/222887-hermel-blasts-wound-four-near-army-checkpoint.ashx#axzz2YP7PhlCc
The United Kingdom has increased military aid to Lebanon to protect its border with Syria. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/syria-civil-war-britain-increases-military-aid-to-lebanon-to-protect-border-8690929.html
The United Nations’ Human Rights Office expressed its concerns about some 4,000 civilians trapped in Homs. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45348&Cr=syria&Cr1=#.UdoCFGCmK5I
Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers)

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million 
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar
Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict)
Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%
Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
 Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

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

8 Jun

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

Early death toll: 70 killed including 22 civilians.

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

The opposition’s lost battle for Qusayr was sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and counter to popular mythology was the first to be so backed (other than efforts on the Jordanian border. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/06/syria_is_now_saudi_arabias_problem?page=full

Syria’s National Coalition again ruled out attending the U.S.-Russian sponsored peace talks in Geneva. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syria-opposition-again-rules-out-peace-talks Georges Sabra said that the Syrian opposition needs military assistance, not talks.

Lina Sinjab’s farewell to Damascus. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22826636

Interview with Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL5dzLlmORI&feature=youtu.be

Refugees and Relief:

The United Nations launched its largest ever appeal for aid for war-torn Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22813207#TWEET781827

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

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

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

The FSA continued to besiege the Aleppo Central Prison. https://twitter.com/TaziMorocco/status/343458580789342209/photo/1

Regime forces bombed the area between Anadan and Hraitan.

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

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

Damascus province: 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

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

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

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

Dara`a province: 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

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

Deir az-Zur province:


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

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

Hama province: 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

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

Homs province: 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

1 rebel was killed while trying to evacuate the injured from al-Quseir city. 7 civilians, including a woman, were killed by a car bomb in the al-Adawi area of Homs (a mostly Alawi area). http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/06/08/Car-bomb-kills-7-people-in-central-Syrian-city.html

Syrian regime forces took over the last opposition-held area in al-Qusayr at eastern Buweida village, four days after al-Qusayr fell to Hizbullah and the Syrian army. Buweida appears to be in ruins. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syrian-regime-says-it-overruns-last-rebel-bastion-near-al-qusayr

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

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

Raqqa province: 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

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


Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari says the country is not sending fighters to Syria. (Does that mean they are volunteering and arriving on their own?) http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/06/08/Iraqi-FM-says-Baghdad-not-sending-fighters-to-Syria-.html

On Friday, Russia’s Putin made it known that he would like to send Russian forces to the Golan Heights to relieve the Austrian peacekeeping forces there, (being withdrawn by Austria.) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/putin-offers-russian-troops-as-golan-heights-peacekeepers-to-replace-austrian-forces-8649706.html

However, the United Nations responded that members of the UN Security Council cannot send peacekeeping troops, therefore it rejected Russia’s offer. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2013/06/08/UN-says-it-can-t-accept-Russia-s-offer-of-Golan-troops.html

In Lebanon, fighting related to the conflict in Syria once again erupted in Tripoli’s souks. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/86186-fighting-erupts-again-in-central-tripoli-s-old-souks

Wounded anti-regime fighters who fell in al-Qusayr were evacuated to Lebanon and are being treated in Ba’lbak area hospitals (al-Jazeera reports that they went to Shtoura to the hospital) (I wonder if that includes the Imam Khomeini Hospital, the primo facility in Ba’lbak, somehow doubt that). http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/86173-dozens-of-anti-regime-fighters-including-10-lebanese-arrive-at-bekaa-hospitals-from-qusayr

More than 90 wounded have been evacuated.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Shaykh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Shaykh condemned Hizbullah following its intervention in Syria. http://www.yalibnan.com/2013/06/08/top-saudi-cleric-urges-end-to-hezbollah-aggression/

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

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

Syria and Russia

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










Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.


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

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

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



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

3 May

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

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

The Telegraph sensationalizes the issue of chemical weapons and the presence of al-Qa’ida in Syria (assuming they mean Jabhat al-Nusra or other groups).

Important report on religious freedom in Syria in light of the conflict.

Refugees and Relief:

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

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

Opposition fighters took over the Engineer Brigade base today.

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

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

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

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

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

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

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

Deir az-Zur province:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latakia province:

The Syrian regime shelled the town of Arrabeeah today.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar
Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict)

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%
Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

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

15 Apr

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

Early death toll: More than 130 killed including 33 children.

Saturday’s death toll: 160 killed including 65 civilians.

What might the United States do in Syria to hasten Assad’s departure?

An anti-regime demonstration today in Damascus

The Syrian government dismissed claims regarding chemical weapons use issued in the UK (see below) saying that if they had not consented to a soil sample, then the results have no validity. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/15/Syria-dismisses-unfounded-British-report-on-chemical-weapons.html

In areas seized from Assad, opposition groups disagree on the legal authority to be adopted – Islamic, pseudo-traditional or modern and civil-based. http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/a-tale-of-two-courts/

UK’s Ministry of Defense says some kind of chemical weapons were used in Syria in December (as the opposition has claimed). http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3738391.ece

Italian journalists seized in Syria were released. Yesterday.

Refugees and Relief:

Syrian refugees in Dohuk, Iraq.

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

A car bomb attack on an intelligence center in al-Furqan near Nadi al-Dhabbat killed two and wounded 18, including 3 from al-Fada’iya’s team, Shadi Helw, the Aleppo correspondent, and two cameramen, Yahya Moussali and Ahmed Suleiman – Moussail was badly hurt and there were clashes at a nearby checkpoint.

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

One report says that 10 children were killed in al-Qaboun (another says 5 civilians, including 2 children) by aerial bombardment. The Syrian air force carried out air raids on the edges of the Jobar neighborhood.

Syrian military shelling on Jaraman killed 4 civilians and injured 20. The Syrian military shelled areas of Beit Sahm. Syrian government forces retreated from the town of Hafir al-Foqa in al-Qalamoun after they had previously stormed it some days ago, and there were clashes there with the opposition. The Syrian military shelled al-Thiyabiya and al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya with rocket launchers. Syrian helicopters and airplanes bombarded the town of al-Nashabiya town and the agricultural areas around Douma. Five men and 1 opposition fighter were killed by clashes with regular forces in the A’rbin town. Shelling on Hazrma killed one man. Four men from Zakiya town were tortured to death in government prisons.

Opposition fighters were clashing with regular forces in several areas of Daraya and regular forces shelled Harasta, Zamalka and al-Arqoub and carried out air raids on the village of Ghazal.
Warplanes bombarded the Sbeina and the Syrian military shelled the town of Babila.

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

The Syrian military conducted air raids on Kherbet Ghazala. Regular forces bombarded the al-Qusour neighborhood, and shot to death a man from Tsil.

The Syrian military shot a man in al-Sheikh Muskin and they resumed the shelling
Clashes occurred between opposition and regular forces in al-Katiba and the Syrian air force carried out air raids on the town of A’lma.

The Syrian military destroyed the minaret of the historic al-`Umari mosque in the city of Dar`a on Saturday. The mosque dates back to the 7th century as it was built by Omar bin al-Khattab and had been targeted for several days. At the outset of the Syrian revolution, this mosque was where the first martyrs fell and demonstrations issued from it. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/14/Historic-mosque-in-Daraa-destroyed-in-Syrian-army-shelling-.html

Deir az-Zur province:


Clashes took place between opposition and regime forces in the al-Hweiqa and al-Jbeila, along with regime bombardment on the al-Hweiqa in the city of Deir az-Zur.

Deir az-Zur in ruins: http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2013/04/13/syrie-deir-ezzor-champ-de-ruines_895742#s1

On Saturday, Islamists, including members of al-Nusra Front denouncing civil and democratic state. They announce that only an Islamic state (caliphate) and flag will be created once they enter Damascus.

Hassake province

The regime forces carried out an air strike that killed at least 16 people in a majority Kurdish village of Haddad (which lies approximately 20 kilometers south of Qahtaniyya and 60 km north of Qamishli) today including 3 children and 2 women. (16 according to SOHR, 11 according to Reuters) http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/14/uk-syria-crisis-raid-idUKBRE93D0DW20130414
Syrian regime aircraft carried out several air raids on Umm Keif located on the Ras al-`Ain road. The Syrian military resumed its shelling of the town of Tal Hamees.

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

The al-Khaldiya neighborhood of Homs was bombarded by regular forces with rocket launchers,

The opposition clashed with Hizbullah forces in Qusayr.

Syrian regular forces resumed the shelling of the city of al-Rastan. Clashes are took place between opposition fighters and regular forces supported by militants from the popular committees in several villages of al-Qseir.

Destruction in Homs

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

Syrian troops broke through a lengthy opposition siege on two key military bases – Wadi ad-Dayf and Hamdiya killing at least 21 opposition fighters. The attack by the Syrian military focused on the village of Babulin and the residents of Babulin were shouting for the opposition to help them. Six cars with ammunition came from Sahyan to Hamidiyya following this breakthrough as regime forces delivered rmore reinforcements.

The regime forces bombarded the towns of Mer’yan, al-Tah and Kherbet Amouda. Violent clashes took place at the Zlito and A’in al-Sabil checkpoints resulting in casualities.

Clashes took place between opposition and regular forces on the outskirts of Baboulin village, along with helicopters hovering over the area. Regular forces bombarded the village of al-Janoudiya in the countryside of Jusr al-Shughour. Opposition fighters blew up a bridge on the Damascus-Ariha international road.

The Syrian military carried out an air raid on the outskirts of the city of Idlib.

Latakia province:

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the Rabi`a area and the Salma summer resort.

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

Syrian regime forces shelled the city of al-Raqqa.

The airforce executed several air raids near the 17th division resulting in injuries.

Shelling by the Syrian regime forces killed four children in the village of Hmeira al-Bweitiyya.


Two were killed and four injured in the Lebanese border town of Qasr in the Hermel area when artillery shelling from Syria breached the border.
Around the same town, Hizbullah fighters (or Hizbullah-based fighters) were patrolling: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/lebanese-shiite-fighters-backed-by-hezbollah-fighting-inside-syria-near-border/2013/04/14/58b4e360-a53e-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html

Lakhdar Brahimi may step down as UN-Arab League envoy on Syria. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/brahimi-may-quit-as-unarab-league-envoy-on-syria/article4614425.ece

Syria Update, February 19-20, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

20 Feb

Syria Update, Feb. 19-20 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Wednesday early death toll: 28 deaths reported so far.

Tuesday’s death toll: More than 150 killed including 102 unarmed civilians.

Russia’s Sergei Lavrov urged the Syrian government and the opposition to end the conflict after meeting with Nabil al-Arabi, the current head of the Arab League. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-02-20/russia-steps-up-syrian-diplomacy-before-assad-envoy-visit

An outbreak of typhoid has hit an opposition-held area of Syria after power cuts hit water supplies according to Tarik Jasarevic, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, who said that some 2,500 people had contracted the disease. According to him and later, (in a different report) the organization’s Elizabeth Hoff, people are drawing water from the Euphrates and the water is contaminated, probably by sewage. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/19/us-syria-crisis-aid-idUSBRE91I0ET20130219

Faisal al-Qudsi, a Syrian businessman complained yesterday of the international sanctions hitting Syria. He said the military could only fight for another 6 months, but that Assad would cling to power to the end. He also suggested that “millions would be on the streets,” implying a push to revolution, if the military ceased “killing” (the people). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17088270

Some in the West imagine that Syrians live separately according to their religious sect. Not all do by any means. The resistance is composed of all sects and intermarriage is frequent (as it was in Iraq).
Here is one couple https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MvpXPyTlwAc

Refugees and Relief:

USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance on Tuesday announced $19 million in humanitarian assistance for Syria. This is in addition to the $155 million pledged in January of 2013 by President Barack Obama. However, 4 million people inside Syria are in dire need of aid and despite all the aid promised (not only by the U.S.), most of those (more than 850,000) in refugee camps, or those living outside of them in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are in very dire condition according to all recent reports by eyewitnesses, advocates, visitors, etc. for example as at the Azaz camp, home to 15,000 which has no running water or electricity, and is terribly cold now.
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

Wednesday: Violent clashes took place this morning in Saba’ Bahrat and near the Neyrab military airport, killing 1 opposition fighter in Saba’ Bahrat, at least. The Syrian military bombarded the neighborhoods of Aqyoul and Qastal Harami.

The opposition (from several factions) surround the police academy in Khan al-Asal and have been trying to storm it. Both the Syrian regime forces and the opposition are bombarding the area around the Kweiris military airport.

Tuesday: 31 civilians (14 children, 5 women and 12 men) were killed in Syrian military’s targeting of the Jabal Badro neighborhood of Aleppo city, most likely by a surface-to-surface missile. The death count is expected to rise due to many injuries and still-unrecovered bodies. 8 civilians, including a child, were killed by the bombardment (by missile) on Jabal Badro, in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo. SOHR reported that a man in Tariq al-Bab, said 15 of his family members were under the rubble of the destroyed house and that a decapitated child’s body had been pulled out. Clashes took place near the police branch in Zebdiya neighbourhood, and clashes occurred in in Bustan al-Qasr. The Syrian air force shelled Jazmatiya..

The Syrian military shelled the town of Orum al-Kubra. The Syrian military had bombarded Tel Rif’at on Monday night, also possibly with a surface-to-surface missile, injuring 10 people. Hundreds of regular Syrian troops backed by military vehicles poured into the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday following rebel advances, these reinforcements arrived at Tel Aran.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Tel Rif’at, (claims are again of a surface-to-surface missile) causing casualities and injuries.

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

Today, two mortars exploded inside the Tishreen football stadium in Baramkeh during football practice and killed one player from the al-Wathbah club of Homs.
A fighter jet was downed over Hamouriyya today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sBgg1VBLxw&feature=youtu.be&a
Violent clashes have been taking place in the Tadamoun area since this morning.

Tuesday: The Syrian military bombarded the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus killing 5 men. 2 mortar shells fired by the opposition fell near the southern gate of the Tishreen presidential palace (between the Mezze and the Muhajirin neighborhood; Assad apparently stays there only rarely). Three explosions heard in the area. Several rockets fell on Barzeh and heavy gunfire was heard near the Tishreen military hospital. 2 mortar shells fell on the French hospital in the Assa neighbourhood of central Damascus. An IED planted in a car exploded in Adab al-Arabi street in the Abassiyin area. Clashes took place at dawn Tuesday in the Awal al-Yarmouk, in the Yarmouk camp. Several rockets fell on the Yarmouk camp.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Kafarbatna twice today. The first bombardment killed 7 civilians including a child. The second bombardment caused injuries. The Syrian air force bombarded the city of Douma, killing 6 men on al-Quwatli street. Regime bombardment on Ein Terma killed 5 civilians including 2 women and a child.

A fighter jet drops two rockets on Daraya on Tuesday (film uploaded Wed.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7TI9os-ZOSk

Tuesday: A car-bomb exploded near Khan al-Sheikh camp, causing injuries. A rocket falling on Douma killed a child. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the towns and cities of al-Buwaida, Maliha, Hosh Arab, Yalda and al-Zabadani. The Syrian military’s troop reinforcements reached Daraya and heavy clashes with the opposition took place along with shelling by helicopter and warplanes. Clashes took place by the al-Nabbak bridge. The Syrian air force carried out 2 raids targeting the city of Zamalka, and the south ring road.

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

Wednesday: Heavy clashes in Basr al-Harir.

Tuesday: The Syrian military bombarded the towns of Yaduda and Da’el; at least 1 woman was killed and several injured. The Syrian military used helicopters to bombard the town of al-Tiba causing injuries and destroying houses.

1 man was killed by a point blank gunshot fired at a military checkpoint in the Sehm al-Jolan area. The regime forces bombarded the town of al-Yaduda and the villages in the al-Lijah area. Regular forces killed a man at the Nassib border crossing. The Syrian military bombarded the town of Tafas the previous night.

Heavy gunfire was reported in the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood of Dara`a.

Deir az-Zur province:

Wednesday: Clashes took place at dawn in the al-Jbeileh neighborhood of the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military bombarded the Huweiqa neighborhood of Deir az-Zur at midnight last night.

Tuesday: The Syrian regime forces bombardment of the city of Deir az-Zur killed one man, and they hit the Huweiqa neighborhood. The regime forces shelled the town of al-Kharita.

Violent clashes took place in the western part of the province, in the al-Kabr area Clashes two days ago had resulted in high casualties.

Typhoid has broken out in Deir az-Zur province, see the report above.

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

Wednesday: The Syrian military have bombarded Kfarnaboudeh with multiple casualities today.

Hassake province

Four regime troops were killed in Hassake province on Tuesday.

Islamist opposition fighters and Kurdish militias have ceased their hostilities in the city of Ra’s al-`Ain. They signed an accord to fight together against the Assad regime. Up to this point, some deadly clashes had taken place between the Kurdish and Arab factions ever since the opposition had entered Ra’s al-`Ain several months ago.
That accord, concluded on Sunday had been arranged by prominent Christian dissident Michel Kilo and other opposition activists, and it calls for the “complete withdrawal of military forces and displays of arms from the city” – the city is to be governed by a civilian council, which would also manage the border crossing with Turkey in accordance with both parties

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

Wednesday: Violent clashes between regime forces and the opposition have been taking place since this morning in the al-We’er neighborhood of Homs. Regime forces freed 3 captive officers, but 1 was killed in the process. Other reports claimed that opposition fighters were able to free many civilians from the neighborhood who had been taken captive by the regime forces today.
The Syrian military shelled Rastan.

Tuesday: The opposition took over the district of al-Qarabees in Homs which has been horribly destroyed over the months of the conflict.

Violent clashes took place yesterday in the covered souqs in Homs; heavy gunfire was heard in the al-Mukhayam and Shammas neighborhoods. Regime shelling took place yesterday on the Houla area, killed 2 children and caused injuries. Earlier bombardment of this area by rockets had taken place in the early a.m. 1 civilian from Homs was killed after his car was fired on while driving the Damascus-Homs highway. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the town of Talbisa. An unidentified body was discovered in the al-Asi river, near al-Dar al-Kabira..

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

Wednesday: Violent clashes are taking place in the city of Ariha after Syrian regime forces tried to storm into the city from the west.

Regime forces bombarded Ariha resulting in casualties and injuries, and they bombarded the town of Tamini’a.

Tuesday: The Syrian airforce carried out raids again on the towns of Sarjeh and Bsaqla, and attacked a school in Sarjeh. Regime forces also bombarded the town of Jarjanaz, the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man, and used artillery to shell the towns of Deir Sharqi and Kureen.

A young male detainee from the town of Ghadafa, was killed, his body bore the marks of torture

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

Wednesday: Regular Syrian forces of the 17th division bombarded rural areas of Raqqa, and regular forces also shelled areas around the city of Raqqa.

Tuesday: The Syrian airforce shelled the gate and the area around the Euphrates Dam which had been taken over by the Jabhat al-Nusra and other FSA factions earlier this month. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Skoura.

The body of a young man from the city of al-Tabqa was found dumped by the Euphrates river; he had been tortured.

The Syrian air force bombarded al-Tabqa causing injuries, and also shelled the town of al-Mansura

The Syrian military bombarded areas near the Raqqah central prison, and a school and a cultural center. The area north of Raqqah city, around the 17th regiment, was bombarded. A lawyer from the city of Raqqah was assassinated by unknown gunmen on the Raqqah-Tabqa highway.


Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday that Moscow would not support calls by other nations to refer suspected war criminals in Syria to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

The UK’s William Hague called for lifting the EU arms embargo on Syria on Monday. Other EU spokespersons disputed the need as apparently does Catherine Ashton (or her advisors). http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/18/266907.html

Another disturbing picture of torture inside Syria’s prisons http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/18/world/meast/syria-detainees-horror/index.html?hpt=hp_bn2

This detailed description of conditions in Syria and the organization of the Free Syrian Army was published on Monday by the visiting

Special Events for Syria:

24 février 2013


L’Institut du monde arabe (Paris) organise, le 24 février prochain, une « Journée de solidarité avec le peuple syrien ». Elle comportera diverses manifestations : concerts de musique, conférences, expositions d’art contemporain et de photographies, lectures de poésie, etc. Voir le programme; http://souriahouria.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Programme_IMA.pdf

Les fonds récoltés dans ce cadre seront reversés à CODSSY – Collectif du Développement et du Secours Syrien. http://www.codssy.org Réservation sur place

New York: Music For Life International
Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall, New York
The Concert will raise public consciousness and funds for the refugee and internally displaced Children of the Syrian Civil War.

Dmitri Shostakovich: 7th Symphony ” Leningrad”
George Mathew, Conductor and Artistic Director
Elmira Darvarova, Concertmaster (Former Concertmaster, MET Orchestra)
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, MET Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and many others

Syria Update, December 20, 2012. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

21 Dec

Syria Update, December 20 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: At least 100

Wednesday’s deathtoll: 170

Dr. Zaidun al-Zoabi (38) a dean of the European College in Syria, and a relative of the Syrian vice-president, his brother Sohaib (22) a student at the University of Damascus, and 5 colleagues who are part of the non-violent opposition movement were arrested in a cafe in Damascus on 15/12/2012. They are being held in the basements of the 215th branch.

Mohammad Shaar, Syria’s Minister of the Interior was injured in a bombing last week on December 12th, and was also wounded in the 12th of July bombing which killed 4 top figures in Assad’s inner circle). State news had claimed he wasn’t badly injured but he was flown to Beirut for treatment today at the American University in Beirut hospital. http://www.voanews.com/content/syrian-minister-al-shaar-in-beirut-hospital-after-damascus-attack/1568860.html

The Theater:

Aleppo province:

Several rockets were launched onto the Karam al-Terab and al-Arad al-Hamra neighborhoods of Aleppo, killing 1 child. Violent clashes occurred in Hamadaniyya and near the air defense force battalion in al-Zahra’; the opposition launched rockets. The Syrian military shelled the Ansari al-Sharqi neighborhood killing 3 civilians. An explosion was reported in Aziza (held by the opposition) killing more than 33. The regime forces shelled the area after the explosion. Heavy fighting took place in the Old City as the FSA moved into Qasr Baladi and Bab Janin.

The Syrian regime forces retreated away from the defense factories in Safeera area. Before their retreat, they burnt cannons and weapons in the aftermath of clashes with the opposition.

Negotiations are ongoing for the release of imprisoned civilians held in the air intelligence division in exchange for 6 officers now detained in the scientific research division and the air defense battalion in the Shaykh Suleiman.

Free Syrian Army fighters said on Thursday they were preparing to take over the Mennag military airbase in Azaz, near the Turkish border. They thought that 300 to 600 Syrian soldiers might be inside the airbase where government helicopters are believed to be stationed.
3 children were killed by bombardment on the town of A’ndan at dawn.

Damascus province:

An attack took place on the pro-regime Popular Defense committees checkpoint in the al-Jazeera al-Thalitha area of Mushru’ Dummar. Clashes took place in Daf al-Shawk, Tadamun and al-Zahira.

Hundreds of people have been returning to Yarmouk after attacks and clashes there had driven them out, and carried out a vocal demonstration against being used as a front line in the war. Other reports simply said that several hundred “were permitted to go back” into the camp Key members of the pro-Assad PFLP-GC defected to the opposition during the fighting yesterday and Ahmad Jibril was said to have fled Yarmouk with his son for Tartus.



The Syrian military shelled `Ain Tarma, Beit Sahm, Daraya, Deir al-A’safeer, Duma, Harasta, Ma’adamiyat al-Sham, Madeera, Yabrud, Yalda and Zamalka. Shelling on Duma killed 1 civilian. Clashes resumed in Daraya and clashes took place between Mukhayam al-Rafidein and Duma.

The Free Syrian Army took control of a border crossing between Syria and Lebanon for the first time, at Rankous (26 miles north of Damascus).

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

11 civilians were killed in the province: a sniper killed 2 in the city of Dara`a. Regime forces killed 6 civilians including a child at a refugee camp in Dara`a. Regime forces shot at a car on the Busr al-Harir road killing 2 civilians. A man in Mahaja was found dead.

Deir az-Zur province:

Opposition fighters took over the Seyouf roundabout in the city of Deir az-Zur.

In Deir az-Zur, the FSA is increasing its attacks on the military airbase, including shelling it from tanks.

Hassake province:

The FSA ambushed a military convoy of 10 vehicles carrying arms from the air defense base near Houl. One report stated that 50 regime troops and shabiha were killed or injured.

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

On Tuesday, I reported many gains by the opposition as it seized six towns and numerous checkpoints as the result of its new offensive in Hama province. Today it held those gains, and also took over Bsereen and destroyed a school used by the Syrian army as a base. Clashes took between regime forces, pro-regime shabiha and opposition fighters after the opposition attacked checkpoints near Zughba, Ma’an and other pro-regime villages. The FSA overran the Jisr checkpoint and destroyed an armored vehicle near Mawrak.

2 opposition fighters were killed. A woman was killed in the shelling on Halfaya. Unidentified armed men shot at a bus driving through the Hama countryside and killed a female college student.

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

The city of Homs has been besieged by the government for 196 days with many families trapped or unable to leave Old Homs, Deir Ba`lbah and the northern and southern suburbs of the city. Gunmen fired at an automobile killing a woman in the city of Homs.
Some unconfirmed reports say that the FSA has arrested an officer who ordered the massacre on the village of Houla, and that the FSA will put him on trial. Shelling on al-Houla today killed two boys. Shelling on the countryside outside al-Qseir killed two. Near the Lebanese border and the village of Jousiya, the bodies of a man, his wife and daughter were discovered.
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

Clashes took place near the Wadi al-Deif encampment. Shelling took place on different areas in Ma`arat al-Nu`man and artillery targeting of the town of Taman’a.

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

In Hiffah, Latakia, Syrian government forces punching and cursing female detainees.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin said that his country is more concerned with Syria’s fate than that of Bashar al-Assad and that it wants to avert an endless civil war. http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/12/20/256172.html

The UN General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to rebuke Syria, Iran and North Korea for alleged human rights abuses.
With Syria’s conflict worsening by the day, a resolution condemning the Syrian government and its allied militias came as a diplomatic blow for President Bashar al-Assad.
The 193-state assembly passed the resolution slamming “grave” and “systematic” abuses with 135 votes in favour, 12 against – including Russia and China – and 36 abstentions.

The Assad government has been accused of detaining thousands of opponents, often in secret, torturing many. The government has refused to allow a UN human rights council investigation into the country.
The UN called for an end to all “violations” of human rights and for all sides to end the 21-month old conflict in which activists say more than 44,000 people have died.r

The UN Human Rights Council’s report covering Syria from September 28 to December 16, 2012 highlights sectarian violence and claims that Sunni “rebels” are increasingly fighting minority groups. (The story commenting on the report does not mention the opposition members who are not Sunni.) Foreign fighters in the country include Hizbullah, Iraqis and Iranians. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/2012122015525051365.html


Among Syria’s Creative Figures:

Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.

Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.

Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.

Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.

Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.

Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850

Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.

Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt, preferring to remain in Syria.

Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012).

Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584

Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.

Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright, born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest