Tag Archives: Lakhdar Brahimi

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, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies

15 Jan

Syria Update, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 119

Monday’s death toll: 150 including 82 civilians.

Other women’s accounts of the war and civil organizations are framed differently than this article (providing more evidence of activism) which outlines a mostly supportive role for women. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/role-of-syrian-women-evolves-as-war-rages-on/2013/01/09/5308512e-559b-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_story.html

A Jordanian salafist leader announced that Riyadh Hdeib, known as Abi Hamza, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra had been killed in Syrian army shelling of the village of Tafas in Dar`a. Abi Hamza was 32, a Jordanian national who used to teach at a private school in Amman and was an imam and a preacher there. He had fought in Iraq against U.S. forces.

Defections: Comments and news on defections by Syrian soldiers. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/13/1178636/-Defections-and-Murder-Syria-Assad#

Refugees: Syrian refugees in Kilis in Turkey will take part this month in elections to select representatives of their areas. http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/146446/syrians-set-for-ballot-in-turkish-refugee-camps.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 sources claim that the Syrian military shelled the University of Aleppo today causing 15 at first report (later reports say 45, and 52) deaths and many injuries. Others said a car bomb went off. State television, however, blamed the blasts on “terrorists” and a Syrian military official claimed that the opposition had been trying to down a Syrian air bomber, but missed and two rockets which hit the Information Technology Academy came from an opposition held area in Aleppo. Other reports indicate the area hit was in between the residences and the Architecture building.

An attack on al-Bab killed 8 people, including 4 women. Unknown persons assassinated 2 scientists working in Assad’s Institute of Military Technology. They were killed in the Saif al-Dawla neighborhood.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees are massing near the border fence into Turkey who lack identification papers. An activist reported that smugglers come at night to the border area, charging the refugees 1500 Syrian pounds for the crossing.

On Jan. 12th, more than 30 soldiers defected and joined the FSA.

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

Syrian government forces confiscated 40 tons of flour in the neighborhood of al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled and carried out an air strike on Mleiha, southeast of Damascus and clashes took place there. On the 12th of January, men loyal to Assad executed a Syrian brigadier general and 7 Syrian troops when they attempted to defect in Mleiha.
The Syrian military shelled Daraya causing casualties today. The Syrian military also carried out air strikes on Chabaa and Douma which are in the Eastern Ghouta, where FSA forces are located.
How is the crisis affecting the cost of living in Damascus. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/ballooning-cost-living-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

Syrian military shelling of al-Sanamayn results in casualties today. The Jabhat al-Nusra leader, Abi Hamza (see above) was killed by the Syrian military in Tafas.

Deir az-Zur province:


Yesterday a sniper killed Ali Abdallah al-Jajaan in Muathafeen in the city of Deir az-Zur.

Clashes in Hawiqeh resulted in the death of Hamad Al-Thamer, of the FSA, a defected soldier in Deir az-Zur yesterday.

Also reported was the death of Khaled Al-Rajja in shelling on Deir az-Zur.

Yesterday marked the 215th day of bombardment on the city of Deir az-Zur. The regime forces shelled the College of Science: http://youtu.be/E195qd2ubCg
The regime shelled Muathafeen, al-Arfi, Hamidiyya (including thermobaric bombs here)

al-Jbeileh and Shaykh Yasin. Clashes took place in al-Jbeileh, Khassarat, Muathafeen and al-Omal.

The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Abed, al-Mireiyeh, and al-Husseiniyeh yesterday. The Syrian military completely destroyed the only spinning and weaving factory in Deir az-Zur and its warehouses burned yesterday http://youtu.be/3s5C_rGWydM

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

Clashes in the al-Nasr neighborhood of Hama killed one opposition fighter.

Syrian military bombardment of Halfaya, Kafarzeita and Latamna killed a male civilian and two women.

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 killed 27 people in Haswiyya today, members of six families.

Regime air raids were carried out on Jobar and Sultanyya in the city of Homs. Parts of the city have been under siege for six months as the Syrian army tries to take back areas held by the opposition and storm into areas of Khaldiyya and Old Homs where clashes took place.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Talibsa for several hours.
Heavy governmental forces’ shelling of Rastan took place on Tuesday. Regime forces shelled Houla, killing 15 people, including at least five women and 2 children.
Casualties were also reported in Taldheb.

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 regime dropped cluster bombs on Kaynamas today. The Syrian military shelled the town of Sarmin, killing a male and female civilian and injuring others.

Footage from a field hospital in Sarmin:

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

Two Syrian regular troops were killed today in the eastern rural part of the province.

Yesterday, the regime forces shelled al-Tabqa using helicopters.

A regime airstrike killed the commander of al-Liwa al-Islam near the al-Thawra oil field, yesterday.

Suwaida province:

On Sunday night, eight opposition fighters from several different factions were killed in clashes in the province.


A report on Syrian refugees who have fled to Giza, in greater Cairo. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2013/01/2013113205548993156.html

Where does U.N.-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stand now that his announced peace plan has been rejected, Syria has called him an “aging tourist” and the conflict continues in the country. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/15/brahimi_s_final_acts

The UNHCR provides information on Syrian registered refugees http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=107

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, January 12, 2013. institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur.

13 Jan

Syria Update, January 12, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 90 persons including 45 civilians

Friday’s death toll: At least 90 including 39 civilians.

Defections: Jumaa Faraj Jassem of section 30 of the General Intelligence Directorate defects from Assad’s government. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syrian_intelligence_official_says_he_has_defected

Refugees: The cold winter is impacting refugees’ lives and they express a sense of abandonment by the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZLjXAW4biM

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

The Syrian military shelled al-Heidariyya and al-Jazmati today killig 4 civilians, including 2 children. Snipers killed 3 unidentified men in Bustan al-Basha. The bodies of 2 persons, were discovered in Khan al-Asal where one opposition fighter was killed. 3 opposition fighters were killed by regime forces in clashes near the 80th”and defense divisions of the Aleppo countryside and the Managh military airport. One opposition fighter was killed on the road to the Aleppo international airport.

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

Soldiers loyal to Bashar al-Assad killed 7 and wounded 10 at the checkpoint at 30th street in south Damascus between the Yarmouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad. A sniper killed Ghassan Shihabi, activist, director of al-Shajara Association for Palestinian Memory, publisher of many village books, founder of a cultural club and a library (that was shut down by the Syrian regime) in 2009. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=329263760522091&set=a.267629800018821.58374.265706396877828&type=1&theater

Syrian government troops captured much of Daraya today. They had been battling for weeks to take this area. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jan-12/201987-damascus-hit-by-clashes-after-key-rebel-gain-activists.ashx#axzz2HncF3SB8 In the clashes in Daraya, 2 opposition fighters were killed and 4 regular troops were killed in an IED explosion of an armed vehicle in Daraya.

Unidentified armed men have killed Syrian track athlete Hisham Al Raqsha while he was travelling in his car in Hosha Blas area of Damascus countryside. He came second in the 2010 West Asian games and was currently working as a trainer for the trekking team.

The Syrian military bombarded Beit Sahem, Daraya, Douma, and Jdaidat Artouz and Mleiha. In Mleiha 2 children, 1 civilian adult and 2 opposition fighters were killed in the shelling and in clashes. Clashes also took place west of Mu`adamiyya. Clashes took place near al-Yarmouk and the regime forces shelled the southern neighborhoods of Damascus today and the eastern Ghouta. The bodies of 6 unidentified persons were discovered today in Mu`adamaiyya and a child was killed when a rocket fell on his home in Mu`adamiyya.

A large car-bomb shook the Abu Aref area of Sabina. Syrian military shelling of Hteitat al-Harash killed 3 men. An opposition fighter was killed in Irbeen, where the Syrian military was shelling today.

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

Clashes took place in Busr al-Harir killing 4 opposition fighters. An IED explosion killed 1 civilian when it went off near his house in Edwan. The Syrian military shelled Busr al-Harir, Seida and Um al-Mayatheen today.

Several mortar shells fell on the towns of Da’el, Oum al-Mayathin and al-Tiba in the countryside of Dara`a province.

Deir az-Zur province:


The Syrian air force continued its bombarding of the city of Deir az-Zur. Heavy clashes took place in the Huweiqa neighborhood. Shellling on al-Arfi killed one man. And another man was killed in the regime shelling of Huweiqa.

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

Clashes occurred on the southern side of Taybat al-Imam which together with regime shelling killed 2 men and a third died of his wounds in a previous shelling. Gunmen in the village of Oum Hartin killed 4 children and a woman. A man from al-Arb’in in Hama was tortured to death by regime forces. One opposition fighter was killed in the countryside of Hama.

Hassake province

Yesterday, an opposition fighter shot a young man from Ras al-`Ain in the al-Mahata neighborhood after a verbal exchange.

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
he Kaldiya neighbourhood was bombarded by regime forces, THe al-Rastan city of Reef Homs was aerially bombarded by regular forces, several were killed and injured. Fighter helicopters hovered over the Homs city.

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

Opposition fighters finally seized the Taftanaz military airport yesterday. In clashes there yesterday, 4 opposition fighters were killed.

The Syrian regime forces shelled the town of Khan Sheikhoun

Yesterday, regime forces shelling of Kafrouma killed a woman.

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

A rocket fell on the al-Areed road in al-Tabqah wounding several people and killing 4 civilians.


Fifty countries call for the UN to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court

Qatar renews a call for an Arab force in Syria if special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s efforts at peace-making fail. http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/221631-qatar-renews-call-for-arab-force-in-syria.html

The U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi expressed the urgent need to end the Syrian conflict on Friday in Geneva following five hours of meetings with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

Should the Syrian National Coalition take over Syria’s seats at the United Nations and the Arab League? http://www.rappler.com/world/19572-opposition-eyes-syria-seat-at-un,-arab-league

The Syrian-Iranian Alliance

History and background of Syria’s alliance with Iran.
“Iran Primer” By Jubin Goodarzi for USIP. http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/iran-and-syria

Revolutionary Guards were in Syria

Why Iran supports Syria?

More support for Syria.

On January 9, 2013, forty-eight Iranians were freed by the Syrian opposition in exchange for 2,130 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government (which included the Brides of Syria [also known as the “free brides”]) who arrived in central Damascus on Wednesday. The Turkish aid group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it had been a leader in the negotiations.

Iran cozies up to al-Azhar in Cairo, but Egypt and Iran remain divided on Syria.

Another aspect of Iran and Syria’s relationship is Iran’s support of Hizbullah. Syria has also supported Hizbullah, hosts an office.

Iran will adapt if Syria is lost.

“Iran’s Syrian End-game”

Syria Update, January 9, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

10 Jan

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

Early death toll: 62

Tuesday’s deathtoll: 130

Here are the detainees’ families waiting for their release today in the prisoner exchange at Khalid bin Walid Street https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=419084548160541&set=a.347965191939144.74748.343172915751705&type=1&theater

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

Rockets hit the Jub al-Qubbah neighborhood of Aleppo, killing 3 men. Footage from the Jub al-Qubbah neighbourhood:

Snipers killed 2 mentally disabled civilians today in Aleppo. Clashes occurred between several opposition factions in al-Mashhad. Rockets fired on al-Ma`adi killed 2 civilians, and shelling injured others in Kallasa and Bustan al-Qasr. A sniper killed 1 civilian near the al-Qasr al-Baladi building.

Heavy fighting was also reported near the military airports of Nayrab, Kwiyres, and Managh in Aleppo province. Clashes took place in the Dweirina area, also hit by rockets.

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 large car-bomb exploded in the city of Mou’adamiya. First reports indicated that at least 10 people were killed.

Here, Syrian regular troops torture an opposition fighter in one of the southern neighborhoods of Damascus:

Unknown gunmen assassinated Hatem Deeb, a lawyer, in his office in the A’in al-Karsh area on Tuesday night.

The bodies of 2 members of the Palestinian Hamas Resistance movement were found near the A’isha mosque in the al-Hseiniya camp. They had been summarily executed by Syrian regime forces after detainment

The Syrian military shelled Jaramana, and killed 2 in that city today. A sniper shot one person from al-Mleiha and clashes re-occurred in al-Mleiha near the air defense dvision. Violent clashes continued near the towns of A’qraba and Beit Sahem between regular forces and opposition fighters, along with Syrian military bombardment of the area. Clashes took place near the Idaret al-Markabat building between Harasta and A’rbin. The Syrian regular forces bombarded fields around Daraya and engaged in clashes with opposition fighters in the area. Shots were heard at dawn in Zakiya.

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 shelled the town of al-Shaykh Miskeen, killing 1 child and injuring several civilians. The Syrian military continued its shelling of the town of Busr al-Harir, today. Violent clashes took place at the entrances to Busr al-Harir between opposition fighters and regular force who have been attempting to storm the town for days now.

A child died of wounds received yesterday in the shelling of Inkhel.

Deir az-Zur province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The Syrian regime forces shelled the city of Deir az-Zur for the 210th day today, bombarding the al-Arfi, al-Haweeqeh, al-Hmeidiya, al-Jbeileh, al-Omal and al-Rushdieh neighborhoods.

The effects of the bombing on al-Rushdieh

Smoke in the neighborhood of Jbeileh 01/09/2013

The effects of the bombing on the neighborhood of Hamidiya

al-Roushdieh 01/09/2013

The effects of the bombing on Al Omal 09/01/2013

Those killed today included: Mohamed Mounir Bernh, from al-Jorah, Deir al-Zur. He was wounded in al-Hamidyeh, and moved to al-Mayadeen where he died.

Ahmad Khalid Al Homsi, who was captured by Assad’s forces ten months ago and was tortured to death today

Tammam Ragheb, a member of the Saraya al-Nasr battalion of the Free Syrian Army, who was killed in the shelling on al-Haweeqah.

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

Syrian regular troops shot an opposition fighter in Tariq Halab in Hama and he bled to death. The Syrian military shelled Taybet al-Imam today. Clashes took place between opposition fighters and regular forces near the al-Samman military checkpoint in Taybat al-Imam town after midnight last night, apparently causing injuries on both sides.

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

An opposition fighter was killed during clashes with regular forces in al-Hassake province. Yesterday, 4 regular troops were killed in Hassake.

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

Video of the aftermath of bombing in Hamadiyya in Homs

The Syrian military shelled al-Hola today, concentrating on the town of Kaflaha.

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

Opposition fighters of al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham seized parts of Taftanaz military airport today, destroying some helicopter gunships. The Syrian Army bombarded the airport’s grounds and nearby villages using tanks and air strikes, trying to flush out the opposition forces. (These clashes have been ongoing since December of 2012.) In the morning the opposition used anti-aircraft guns and stormed the airport’s fence.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Bansh, killing a man, and also shelled the village of Qmeinas.

The Syrian regime’s military forces executed 33 civilians, including 3 women and possibly 3 opposition fighters in the area of al-Mastouma yesterday, after opposition fighters retreated from the area.

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

Cotton storage facilities were set on fire yesterday near Ein Issa where clashes took place the day before.


Forty-eight Iranians were freed by the Syrian opposition in exchange for 2,130 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government (which included the Brides of Syria) who arrived in central Damascus on Wednesday the Turkish aid group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it had been a leader in the negotiations.


Britain is hosting a two-day meeting on Syria starting today which brings together academics and the opposition to prepare for a post- Assad Syria.

 Experts in post-conflict stabilization are participating. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20954520

Russian and US diplomats will meet with Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva on Friday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency, citing the Russian deputy foreign minister. The two countries held trilateral meetings with Brahimi last month.

Brahimi regrets a lost opportunity to settles Syria’s crisis

The Syrian-Iranian Alliance

“Iran Primer” By Jubin Goodarzi for USIP. http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/iran-and-syria

Since 1979, the alliance between Syria and Iran has had significant impact in both shaping Middle East politics and thwarting the regional goals of the United States, Israel and Iraq.
Syria and Iran are the two parties most responsible for spoiling U.S.-backed peace efforts between the Arabs and Israel in order to promote their own Arab and Islamic interests. For the United States, they were also the most troublesome countries during the U.S. intervention in Iraq because they aided, abetted or armed insurgents.
The two regimes share common traits. They are both authoritarian and defiantly independent, even at a political or economic cost. Iran is predominantly Shiite. Although Syria is predominantly Sunni Muslim, its ruling family is Alawite, a Shiite sect.
At the same time, they are odd political bedfellows. Syria’s Baa’thist ideology is strictly secular and socialist. Iran’s ideology is rigidly religious and, in principle, opposed to atheist communism and its offshoots. Yet their common strategic goals have held the alliance together for three decades, despite repeated attempts to rend them apart.

The Iran-Syria alliance grew out of common cause—and common enemies. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, the two regional powerhouses have pooled political leverage and military resources to enhance their position, build a network of surrogate militias and frustrate the plans of opponents. Together they ensured Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which bordered both countries, would not become the predominant regional power. They forced U.S. peacekeepers out of Lebanon in 1984, and thwarted Israel’s effort to bring Lebanon into its orbit during an 18-year occupation that finally ended in Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2000. The odd bedfellows together sired or supported Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and an array of radical Palestinian groups. All reject peace. And together they have inflicted repeated setbacks on six American presidents.

The alliance also reflects a common need. Together the regimes stand a better chance at survival—without having to accommodate either domestic or foreign demands for change—than they would without each other. Together they also stand a better chance of achieving their long-term goals. Syria wants to regain the strategic Golan Heights, lost to Israel in the 1967 War, and keep its veto power over Lebanese politics. Iran wants to be the preeminent regional player in the Persian Gulf and ensure its allies rule in Iraq. Both also want to protect Arab interests (in the case of Damascus) and Islamic interests (in the case of Iran) throughout the region.

The six phases

Relations between Iran and Syria have has gone through six distinct phases.
Phase 1: The new alliance 1979-1982
Syria was the first Arab country to recognize the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan after the shah’s ouster, and third overall, after the Soviet Union and Pakistan. Damascus provided invaluable diplomatic and military support to Tehran after Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran. The alliance was formalized in March 1982 when a high-level Syrian delegation, headed by then Foreign Minister Abd al-Halim Khaddam visited Tehran and concluded a series of bilateral agreements on oil and trade, and a secret pact on military matters.

Phase 2: The zenith of Syrian-Iranian power 1982-1985
The high point of bilateral cooperation was in the Levant. After Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and rout of Syrian forces there, Syrian President Hafez Assad enlisted Iran’s influence among the Lebanese Shiites to wage a campaign of subversion, terror and guerrilla warfare against their mutual opponents in Lebanon —the Christian-dominated government, Israeli occupation forces and the U.S. and French peacekeeping forces. Together they orchestrated a series of devastating blows: President Bashir Gemayel was assassinated in September 1982. Israeli military headquarters in Tyre were bombed in November 1982. The first modern Muslim suicide bombers hit the U.S. Embassy in west Beirut in April 1983. The barracks of U.S. Marine and French contingents of the Multinational Force were bombed within minutes of each other in October 1983. Israeli headquarters in south Lebanon were again bombed in November 1983. And a second U.S. Embassy was bombed in east Beirut in September 1984. Unable to fulfil its mission, U.S. forces withdrew in early 1984. The 1983 Israeli-Lebanese peace treaty was scrapped. And Israel began a partial withdrawal of its troops from most of the territory it initially seized in 1985.

Phase 3: Alliance tensions and consolidation of the axis 1985-1988
The late 1980s marked the most problematic phase of the Syria-Iran partnership. The Lebanese civil war and the Iran-Iraq War drained their resources and undermined the clout of the Damascus-Tehran nexus. Iran and Syria also developed conflicting agendas in Lebanon, particularly in picking their Shiite allies. Syria backed Amal, the political party and militia that was the longstanding representative of Lebanon’s Shiites. Damascus backed a secular and multi-confessional state that fell within its sphere of influence. Iran backed Hezbollah, the underground extremist movement. Iran favored greater power for Lebanon’s Muslim majority, particularly Shiites, the largest of the country’s 17 recognized sects.

Their rival visions played out on the ground. The Syrians backed the Amal-led siege of Palestinian refugee camps between 1985 and 1987, much to Iran’s dismay. Iran tried to mediate a peaceful end to the confrontation. Tehran and Damascus eventually reached an understanding on key issues: Syrian interests took precedence in the Levant, while Damascus would defer to Tehran in the Gulf.

Phase 4: Containment of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq 1988-1991
Cooperation focused on checking Iraqi power and crushing President Michel Aoun’s anti-Syrian revolt in Lebanon in 1988-1989. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War against Iraq, Syria contributed troops to the U.S.-led coalition and Iran remained neutral. Damascus hoped to reap the benefits of having its agenda included in subsequent Middle East peace efforts, while Iran did not try to check the growing U.S. military presence, in hopes it would ultimately weaken Baghdad’s power in the region.

Phase 5: Alliance cooperation in the post-Cold War period 1991-2003
As the Cold War ended and the United States became the world’s dominant power, Tehran and Damascus grew increasingly important to each other. They cooperated in development of ballistic missiles. They collaborated in arming and abetting Hezbollah and Hamas to pressure Israel, as well as to influence events in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Their aid was instrumental in enabling Hezbollah to wage a guerrilla campaign throughout the 1990s against Israel, which opted to withdraw in 2000.

Both Syria and Iran flirted with the United States during this phase. Damascus participated in sporadic U.S. peace efforts. And under reformist President Mohammed Khatami in the late 1990s, Tehran proposed bringing down the “wall of mistrust.” But neither effort produced any progress.

Phase 6: Reinvigoration of the alliance after the 2003 Iraq war
Cooperation between Iran and Syria increased markedly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both countries welcomed the ouster of Saddam Hussein, their mutual foe. But the speed of the U.S. military victory also initially raised fears that either Iran or Syria might be the next target in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.” Both provided significant aid to an array of domestic and foreign forces in Iraq, challenging the U.S. military and the new government in Baghdad.

Their roles in Iraq evolved, especially after the Obama administration announced plans to withdraw. Tehran cultivated ties with major Iraqi political parties and militias, particularly the Shiites, to ensure Baghdad would not again become hostile. And Damascus sporadically limited the flow of insurgents across its border. Neither country wanted Iraq to plunge into anarchy or civil war. But nor did either want U.S. allies in political control of Baghdad.

The balance of power
The balance of power in the Syrian-Iranian alliance has shifted since 1979. Syria was the dominant partner in the 1980s. Iran is the stronger partner today.
From 1976 to 2005, Syria was the more dominant player in Lebanon due to its military presence. But its leverage weakened after Damascus was forced to pull out troops in 2005. Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party and militia, has since become the most influential ally in Lebanese politics. During the 1980s, Syria’s regional role was also magnified when Egypt was banished from the Arab fold after the 1979 Camp David Accords. And both Iraq and Iran were weakened by their costly eight-year conflict. Syria enjoyed the political, military and economic patronage of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.

The balance of power between the two shifted in part because of arms. Syria was a conduit for arms shipments to Iran during the Iran-Iraq conflict. This was particularly important after Iran’s relations with Moscow deteriorated in 1982 and Washington orchestrated a widespread arms embargo in 1983. Iran responded by developing its own arms industry in the 1980s, and the 1990s it had the lead role in joint efforts with Syria to develop ballistic missile capabilities. Iran now exports arms to Syria and helps finance Syrian arms purchases from Russia, Belarus, North Korea and elsewhere.

Iran needed the alliance with Syria during the 1980s to prevent becoming isolated in the Middle East. But after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Iran mended fences with many Arab countries. Despite its uneasy relations with key Arab governments, Iran is more popular on the Arab street. Its position has been enhanced by its posturing on the nuclear issue, relatively high oil prices, and the backlash against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An enduring marriage
The Syria-Iran alliance has survived in part because it has been primarily defensive in nature. For three decades, it has been aimed largely at neutralizing Iraqi and Israeli capabilities and preventing American encroachment in the Middle East. Defensive alliances which have fixed and limited objectives are often more durable.

Their distinctive ideological differences, ironically, have also helped the relationship endure. Syria and Iraq were intense political rivals, and often came close to military blows, because they shared the same Baa’thist ideology. The political elites in Tehran and Damascus were never competing.

Their respective agendas also have jived: Iran has vied for leadership of the Islamist bloc in the Middle East and beyond, a role in which secular Syria has no interest. Syria has long sought to be “the beating heart of Arabism,” a role in which Iran, a non-Arab country, has no interest. Except for a brief period of rival ambitions in Lebanon, the two countries have never been in competition—ideologically, economically or militarily. Neither has tried to upstage the other.

The future
Despite multiple attempts to wean Syria from Iran, the alliance between Tehran and Damascus remains strong. It would take a major catalyst—such as progress in the Arab-Israeli peace process that addresses Syria’s demands—to seriously undermine their cooperation.
In part by default, Iran and Syria still have strong influence in the region for several reasons: Their militia allies have become major political players, particularly in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Mideast peace efforts have not produced major new pacts since the mid-1990s. And U.S. attention has been focused elsewhere.

“Iran’s Syrian End-game”

Syria Update, January 1, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

1 Jan

Syria Update, January 1, 2013 – The 658th day of the conflict. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early deathtoll: 115

Monday’s deathtoll: 175 including 67 civilians.

Sunday’s deathtoll: More than 130

Saturday’s deathtoll: 397 were reported killed which included 200 who were reportedly executed by the Syrian military at Deir Ba`lba

Defectors: A group of 40 people including 20 defecting Syrian soldiers, a general and their families crossed the Turkish border and were taken to the Apaydin refugee camp.

A vicious attack on detainees by regime forces was obtained by SOHR today.

Young Syrians have made a film: The Assassination of Bashar al-Assad. (It would be far better if he were taken alive and tried. Justice differs from revenge. But it is just as likely that he will escape to Caracas)

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

The Aleppo International Airport was closed about 12 hours ago because of repeated assaults by the opposition according to Syrian authorities speaking anonymously. However, airport authorities used the excuse that the closures were due to maintenance work on the runways. Fierce clashes were reported near the airport. Yesterday, there was a huge explosion inside the airport and flights were suspended.

The Syrian military bombarded Marjeh killing 8 civilians, including 4 children and 1 woman. A sniper killed a man in Bustan al-Qasr and one man was found dead in Ashrafiyya while another was found dead near Anadan.

A cameraman working for Reuters, Ayman al-Sahili who is a Libyan citizen was shot in the leg, treated in Syria and driven to Turkey on Monday.

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

Extremely heavy shelling today at Daraya by the Syrian military using warplanes. Rocket fire by the Syrian military hit Daraya on Monday killing 5, as the government tried to take back opposition gains in this area using a column of armored tanks. The Syrian military also shelled Irbin. Opposition fighters attacked a checkpoint in Barzeh area.

Clashes took place in the eastern Ghouta, Hjeira and Sayyida Zeinab killing 4 opposition troops. The Syrian military’s shelling of Douma, Daraya, Shab’a, Shifoniyya and Thiyabiyya killed 8 civilians including a child. In Hjeira, the Syrian military detained two men and tortured them to death. A sniper killed one person in Mu’adamiyya and one man was killed at a checkpoint in Hfeirat al-Fouqa.
Rocket fire and snipers killed 2 man in the Yarmouk camp. Shelling on Hajar al-Aswad killed two children. A body was found in Asali.


Yesterday’s regime shelling of Daraya, al-Zabani and Mu’adamiyya killed 18 opposition troops. The Syrian military also shelled Bahadliyya, Douma, Hamouriyya, Qara, Misraba, Sabiana, Thiyaba, killing 24 civilians.

On Sunday, 30 initially unidentified corpses were found in Barzeh with marks of torture on the bodies. The bodies of 3 children were found with their throats slit in another area. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9q5WUOlOiAEot74pCADUOKg5QEA?docId=CNG.ab7198fe9626d1fbe63aa65693986ab5.01

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

4 opposition fighters were killed in the governorate today including 1 in clashes in al-Lijah. Yesterday’s shelling of al-Maliha al-Sharqiyya killed one man. Regime forces detained one man in the city of Dara`a and tortured him to death.

Deir az-Zur province:

There was heavy shelling by the Syrian military of the al-Jbeila neighborhood of Deir az-Zur. A sniper killed one man in Deir az-Zur. A rocket shot onto the Deir az-Zur-Mayadeen road killed 3 opposition fighters.

The opposition bombed or otherwise caused an explosion of the natural gas pipeline about 30 kilometers north of Deir az-Zur and some 1.5 million cubic meters of gas was lost. The gas feeds into electricity plants.

Yesterday, regime shelling on Deir az-Zur killed one civilian and another died from the shelling on Muhassan.

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

Civilian deaths were reported in the village of Ma`an.
Yesterday, clashes took place in Helfaya and the countryside of al-Raqqah killing 3 opposition troops. 4 wounded in prior shelling of Tibat al-Imam and Morek died yesterday. The body of one civilian was found in the town of Salamiyya.

Homs province:

Clashes took place in al-Se’en, killing 4 opposition troops.
One man died of his wounds in a prior shelling of al-Qseir.

Yesterday, a man died of wounds from gunfire in Jousiyya. An IED exploding killed one man in Telkalakh.

The stench of burning bodies was reported in Homs on Sunday.

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 in Ma`arat Nu`man killed an opposition fighter today. Yesterday, 3 opposition fighters were killed in clashes in Ma`arat al-Nu`man, while one fighter of the Saraqeb Revolutionary Front was killed in clashes.

This video shows the extent of the damage in Ma`arat al-Nu`man. http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/12/31/syrian-town-decimated-by-conflict?videoId=240211580&videoChannel=-13408

Here is a story of a young man from Idlib now working with the media and as a media activist http://alpha.syriadeeply.org/2013/01/cats-guns-spoils-rural-idlib/#.UONtrmAuihY

A sniper killed 4 civilians in the city of Ariha. The Syrian air force’s bomging of Taftanaz killed one woman.

Raqqa province:


The Syrian military and the opposition engaged in clashes in Tabqah killing one opposition fighter.

On Sunday, opposition fighters killed Shaykh Abdullah al-Saleh, the head of the Islamic Awqaf. He was shot outside his home in Besrawi.


On Sunday, Lakhdar Brahimi predicted that 100,000 more Syrians could die if no-one accepts a peace plan.. http://www.euronews.com/2012/12/30/100000-more-could-die-in-syria-brahimi/

Here are Osama al-Sharif’s thoughts on the Brahimi plan: http://www.arabnews.com/militants-could-unite-syria-foes-and-friends

The exhibition “From Syria with Love” is open until Jan. 10th , 2013 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. http://www.arabnews.com/syria-love-letters-bearing-art-war

A conference on Syria’s refugees will be held in Beirut, Lebanon from January 18 to 20, 2013. The First Conference on Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Issues and Solutions was organized by the Union of Aid Organizations for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in Saudi Arabia and the International Islamic Charitable Commission of Kuwait.

Urgent Request: Rita Zawaideh is organizing a trip for physicians who will be treating Syrian refugees in Jordan. Beyond urgent care, there is apparently an outbreak of meningitis among Syrians at the hospital. (There are doctors in the camps treating people, but not nearly enough and not outside.) I have known Rita Zawaideh for approximately 22 years. She is a wonderful community activist and heads the Salaam Cultural Museum. Email: 

NEEDED: a plastic surgeon, a pediatrician, and

a neurosurgeon
(they would need to cover their own air fare & 6 nights stay at $120 – $150 a night, unless willing to share a room. They will be sharing the cost of meals)

samples of medications, used medical supplies, surgical instruments

Details: The group will leave on Saturday: January 26-2013 and return on Friday February 1-2013

Team already includes: a trauma orthopedic and spinal surgeon; a cardiologist,
a pulmonary and critical care specialist, rehabilitation and spinal cord injury specialist, a donation coordinator, a medical student, a physician facilitator and Ms. Zawaideh.

Syria Update, December 23, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

23 Dec

Syria Update, December 22, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: At least 158

Russian military advisors are manning Syria’s SAMs and other systems put in place to defend the country since the uprising began. (only the first paragraph of this story discusses this) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/23/syria-crisis-russian-military-presence

A nurse from Canada worked in a cave to save to help care for wounded Syrians as part of a Médecins Sans Frontières mission.

Who are the members of the Syrian National Coalition?

Liberated Saraqeb puts up a Christmas tree

Several opposition factions have joined to create an Islamic Front in Syria (as an alternative to the military council representing the majority of fighters in the FSA) and whose goal is an Islamic state in Syria.

The opposition states that 194,000 Syrians are being held in detention; 9,000 of them are children. This is a difficult number to estimate because people have been detained and then released, re-detained, and detained and then “disappeared.”

The Theater:

Aleppo province:

Aleppo province: Clashes took place between al-Nusra Front fighters and regime forces in the area near the defense factories close to the town of al-Safeira. The Syrian air force is also shelling the town of al-Safeira where several buildings collapsed, with people reportedly trapped and one child was been pulled out of the rubble. 12 were killed in yesterday’s shelling of al-Safeira.
The Ansari neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombarded by regime forces, no reports of losses yet. The town of Hureitan was also bombarded by regime forces.

The al Nusra Front has declared a no-fly zone over Aleppo. It argues that the Syrian government is using commercial flights to transport military troops and equipment.

It has issued a warning to any civilians boarding commercial flights, and it is besieging al-Nairab airfield and will fire at any airplane over Aleppo’s skies.

In Northern Aleppo Col. Anas Ibrahim Abu Zeid commanded 200 fighters who took over the 135th Infantry Brigade base at the village of Hawa, capturing weapons and Syrian regime soldiers. The operation took 4 hours. About 150 Syrian troops were at the base.

Damascus province:

Shelling on the al-Qa`a neighborhood killed a civilian. A mortar strike on al-Qusoor on Saturday night killed a child. Haydar al-Samadi, a Syrian photojournalist working for the Syrian News Agency was assassinated by fighters in the Kafarsousah neighbourhood of Damascus, yesterday.

A little girl was killed as regime forces attacked near a bakery in the Eastern Ghouta.

Shabiha or pro-regime informers killed the commander of the al-Ghouta Martyr’s Brigade, Abu Bashir al-Ajweh.

According to the Damascus Military Council of the opposition yesterday, 200 army troops at the Damascus International airport have defected


A Palestinian official, Zakharia al-Agha (of the PLO) said at least 700 Palestinians have died in the conflict in Syria, including in recent violence in Yarmouk (which has involved opposition-on-PFLP-GC violence, but also the Syrian military on civilians and on Palestinians fighting with the opposition). A Syrian official claimed that no Syrian troops fired on Palestinians (the reader can consult past Syria Updates to see this claim appears to be without substance).

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

A woman moves to retrieve a man shot by a sniper in Dara`a.

The regime forces shelled a makeshift hospital in Tariq al-Sadd.

Deir az-Zur province:

The aftermath of shelling on Hamidiyya in Deir az-Zur on Sunday.

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 Syrian regime forces shelled Taminah killing a 3 year old child and wounding 3 women.

The Syrian military shelled a bread line in Halfaya. At least 60 have been reported killed and more than 50 wounded (the queue was apparently very large).

The Syrian military shelled the towns of Karnaz, Kafarzeita and Kafarnbouda today.

Hassake province:

Demonstration held on Friday in Hassake

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 Syrian military shelled Talbisa and damaged the Umar bin Khattab mosque

The Syrian regime and opposition troops clashed in Deir Ba`lba while the Syrian regime heavily shelled the area.

The Syrian regime troops sprayed the neighborhood of al-Bayada in Homs, which is held by the opposition with some type of poison gas, according to medics who treated a civilian for poison inhalation. bombardment of the area. Tens of rockets fell on the neighbourhood in the past hour. Initial reports indicate human losses on both sides.

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

Heavy shelling of Jisr al-Shughour and heavy shelling of Kafranbel was reported. The opposition is unable to enter the citadel of Harem which Syrian troops are holding.

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

Meanwhile, in Tartus, some claim the locals are enjoying their normal lives.

Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria to speak with Bashar al-Assad. Instead of flying into the country, he flew to Beirut and traveled overland to Syria due to fighting near Damascus airport.

According to NATO: Germany will deploy its [Patriot missile] batteries to Kahramanmaraş, the Netherlands will deploy its batteries in Adana, and the United States will deploy its batteries in Gaziantep.”

The OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) condemned threats by a militant Syrian opposition fighters against Syrian Christians in Mharda and Sqilibiyya (in Hama province) accused of hosting Syrian troops. Many residents have already fled these towns. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/muslim_group_slams_rebel_threats_against_syria_christians
On Syria’s militant Islamists by Aron Lund: http://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/syrie–les-islamistes-conquierent-la-rebellion_fr_art_1180_61574.html

Syria Update, December 6, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

7 Dec

Syria Update, December 6, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early deathtoll: 68

Fighting is intensifying in the Damascus area. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20635122

According to a US source, Syria has loaded sarin into warheads. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/syria-loaded-chemical-weapons-bombs-awaiting-attack-order-010311575.html

Aleppo province: Snipers killed 2 civilians today in al-Amriya and Seif al-Dawla. Rockets killed 2 in B’eidan, and shelling on Bustan al-Qasr, Jisr al-Haj and Kallasa killed 4 civilians. The Syrian military tortured one civilian to death and his body was found at Aleppo University. Clashes took place in al-Sakhour and Jami`yat al-Zahra. 3 opposition fighters were killed in the province today.

Very heavy clashes took place at the Mengh military airport which opposition fighters have surrounded for the last 3 days. The Nusra Front fighters took over the electric generating station at al-Sfeira.

Damascus province: A sniper killed one civilian in Asali. An IED exploded and killed a civilian in Zahra. Syrian military gunfire killed one woman in al-Qadam. A large explosion thought to be a car-bomb rocked the Mezze 86 area, and one person was killed. The Syrian military shelled Hamouriyya killing one. An explosion near the Red Crescent center killed one. This was reportedly caused by the opposition.

The FSA shelled regime outposts today near the Damascus airport. Soldiers from the 41st battalion defected today after clashing with the FSA there.

Syrian military forces tortured one civilian to death after detaining him in al-Qara. Syrian military shelling killed one civilian at Hteitat al-Turkman. One civilian was found dead in Jdeidat Artouz, he had disappeared five days ago. The Syrian military killed two civilian males when firing on Sidi Meqdad, and shot one civilian in al-Buwaida. Clashes took place at the department of vehicle management between Irbeen and Harasta. The Syrian military shelled Douma, Harasta, Hamouriyya, Hteitat al-Turkman, Irbeen, Misraba, Thiyabiyya and al-Zabadani, as well as the orchards between Daraya and Kafarsousah. 6 opposition fighters were killed in clashes today in Douma, Beit Sahm, al-Thiyabiyya, the eastern Ghouta, and Medeira and two opposition fighters were killed in the shelling on Douma.

Dara`a province: 3 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with the Syrian military in clashes at the village of al-Qenya. Clashes were reported in Busra al-Sham today.

Deir az-Zur province: One civilian died the military shelling of the Ummal neighborhood. 1 opposition fighter was killed in clashes in Jbeila in Deir az-Zur.

Hama province: 1 opposition fighter from Hama was killed in an ambush on the Homs highway.

Hassake province: Gunmen kidnapped 5 Syrian Kurds today in Qamishli. There is an unconfirmed report that 3 opposition fighters were killed in Ra’s al-Ain. Clashes took place there at dawn. Opposition fighters attacked the Kurdish defense units.

Homs province: Syrian military shelling of the old neighborhoods of Homs killed one opposition fighter. A man died of his wounds after shelling on Karam al-Zaytoun in Homs. Shelling in the city killed one child from Talbisa.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled Ma`arat al-Nu`man killing one civilian and one opposition fighter. The Syrian military shelled Has, Deir Sharqi, Ma’arshamsha and Kafrouma. Clashes resumed near the Wadi al-Deif military base and the Hamidiyya checkpoint near Ma`arat al-Nu`man. 1 opposition fighter was killed at the village of Freika.

Latakia province: The Syrian military bombarded Ghemam and al-Qesf.

Raqqah province: One civilian died from wounds incurred in the shelling on Sabkha. Yesterday the Raqqa regional government members resigned, including the deputy governor of the province, Ali Hedad and 8 members of the executive council saying that the security services of the Syrian government are interfering with them.


The US State Department has expressed concern over groups like the Nusra Front in Syria, saying they are a small part of the opposition but could take advantage of the chaotic conditions.

Snipers have now killed 11 people in Tripoli, Lebanon in violence related to the conflict in Syria. http://www.arabnews.com/snipers-kill-3-sectarian-clashes-flare-lebanon’s-tripoli

The UK’s Europe Minister, David Lidington says he plans to urge European partners to lift sanctions against Syria in order to arm the opposition.

Ecuador says it has not offered amnesty to Bashar al-Assad who has reportedly sent his foreign minister to several Latin American countries, and it is thought this is an effort to find a place of refuge. He traveled to Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Lakhdar Brahimi (the UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria) said that Russia and the U.S. plan to bring Syria back from the brink in a “creative solution” after an unscheduled meeting on the sidelines of the OSCE in Dublin.

Making sarin is not a new activity in Syria:
Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to 1973 when Syria obtained mustard and sarin from Egypt. It is one of the strongest programs in the Middle East region. Syria’s current chemical weapons development is being supervised by Iranian scientists. Ever since 1989, the focus of the program has been on improving the accuracy and distance of potential strikes via the delivery system. Six years ago, Syria possessed 100 to 200 sarin-filled warheads (in 2008) there may be more today.

There is no strong evidence that Iraq’s chemical weapons were moved to Syria (although there is no proof they were not, one may surmise that Syria’s CW program is robust on its own).

Syria obtained the design for the Soviet Scud warhead using VX back in the 1970s. It appears that Syria has the capabilities to produce CW agents on its own; it has procued nonpersistent nerve gas since 1984. There is confirmation of its possession of sarin since 1986. Syria’s CW program began with CERS, its Scientific Study and Research Center in Damascus and later, plants in al-Safira, Hama and Homs were established.

By 1987, Syria had sarin-filled warheads on Scud missiles and since then its focus is to increase range and effectiveness of strike capability. After 1997, Syria obtained warhead that could be fitted with bomblet-filled cluster heads and Syria worked to develop V-agents. There appear to be stockpiles of mustard and sarin and the country may have between 100 and 200 Scuds fitted with sarin warheads. As well as sarin and mustard to use in artillery shells or other air-dropped forms. Syria recently conducted a missile test (in August of 2012); Iranians were reported to be present for the tests. Iran and Syria had signed a defense cooperation agreement in June of 2006.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. While its chemical weapons program is very advanced, its biological weapons program is also quite robust.
Israeli and German sources state that Syria has botulinum toxin, ricin and Bacillus anthracis, and some other sources state that Syria also has plague, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, camelpox and tularemia. Syria then, possesses A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. Syria has advanced pharmaceutical capabilities and thus could have (and according to some accounts has) obtained dual use equipment needed for pharmaceutical and defense research and development. It has research centers in Damascus and Aleppo. Certain U.S. sources are certain that Syria can produce anthrax and botulism, but what was not known is whether it has a formal program to develop delivery systems for these weapons. A 2004 Swedish Defense Agency report said there was no evidence of a defensive or offensive biological weapons program in Syria. However, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the CIA, and the DIA have stated opinions to the contrary as have scientists and specialists. Other experts believe that Syria’s CERS (Scientific Studies and Research Center) has the capabilities and expertise to work on these systems, probably involving the use of drones and UAVs, or adapting warheads and cluster munitions to deliver the biological agents.(Cordesman, 2008) Russian advisors are said to be working with the biological warfare program. An American expert contends that there was a transfer from the Iraqi biological warfare (defensive and offensive programs), namely the camelpox virus.

Cordesman claimed that there were some indications that biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB 500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads were being tested. Syria is technologically capable of designing adapted delivery systems which would have “the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.” However he also noted that the Nuclear Threat Initiative held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:

Syria’s Nuclear Program and Development

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Syria signed the NPT in 1968 and ratified it in 1969. Syria has a Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Syria’s nuclear program began with nuclear physicist Abdullah Watiq Shaid who became minister of higher education in 1967. When the Scientific Studies and Research Center was established in 1969, Shahid became its director-general. The SSRC became the research facility to develop weapons for the Syrian army. For some time, its focus was on chemical and biological weapons, unusually housing chemistry, biology and armament departments together and using the cover that it was working on pollution and water purification. Chemical munitions were a major product.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1979, and thereafter directed the nuclear research effort. Since 1979-1980, it studied nuclear power options, and the IAEA assisted the Commission since 1982, and in 1986 creating a facility which recovered yellowcake uranium from phosphoric acid, as Syria is an exporter of phosphoric acid-based fertilizers. With assistance from the IAEA, Syria acquired a cyclotron in 1996 and an ion-beam accelerator in 1997.

Syria tried to purchase reactors from various countries, including Argentina, but that sale was blocked by the U.S. In 1991 the Chinese constructed Syria’s research reactor at Dayr al-Hajar, a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, not suitable for producing nuclear weapons.

Syria signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1992 and a plan for (civil) nuclear cooperation with Russia in 1998. In 2004, Syria was thought to be negotiating with A.Q. Khan’s network. On April 22, 2004, an enormous explosion destroyed a North Korean freight train apparently transporting many Syrian nuclear technicians who had come to collect fissionable material. In Operation Orchard, The Israeli Air Force bombed the al-Kibar site in Syria on September 6, 2007, a building in northwestern Syria which was a reactor producing plutonium that had been built with North Korean support.

The Syrian government has denied these allegations. It allowed the IAEA to visit the site and take environmental which revealed the presence of man-made uranium and other elements suggesting that a reactor had been there. For three years Syria refused to cooperate sufficiently with the IAEA. The IAEA stated in May of 2011 “that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Deir Azzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency.” In June of 2011, the IAEA found Syria noncompliant and referred the case to the United Nations Security Council.

It should be noted that Syria also has a miniature neutron-source reactor at Deir al-Hajar near Damascus, built by China since 1991 and which went critical in 1996, and which now barely functions. It cannot produce fissile material and has been used for research and teaching purposes.

International concern circles around the fact that Syria had a concealed program and reactor, and therefore it may have been working secretly on other aspects of its program, or in other locations. The second major concern is that Syria has considered its chemical weapons to be a counterweight to Israel’s superiority in conventional weapons and thus an integral part of its offensive capabilities. The third major concern is what may happen to materials or facilities (as with BW and CW) in the case of regime change.

Al-Kibar reactor: Chronology (IISS, Nuclear Programs in the Middle East in the Shadow of Iran, p. 77).

1997 Syria–North Korea nuclear cooperation probably began, according to US April 2008 briefing
26 May 2001 Satellite imagery shows no construction at site near al-Kibar
5 Sep 2002 Satellite imagery shows beginning of construction at site
2002 North Korea allegedly seeks to procure reactor components for Syria
2006 North Korea allegedly transfers cargo to Syria, ‘probably’ for al-Kibar
6 Sep 2007 bombs facility
11 Sep 2007 North Korean official news agency makes first foreign protest of intrusion into Syrian airspace
13 Sep 2007 Unnamed US officials claim Washington had accumulated growing body of evidence that North Korea was cooperating with Syria in developing a nuclear facility
20 Sep 2007 Syrian Ba’ath Party head flies to North Korea; Syria later denies reports that purpose of visit was to coordinate a response
20 Sep 2007 US President Bush makes no comment on Israeli attack but warns North Korea that the transfer of nuclear information is as serious as the export of nuclear materials
3 Oct 2007 North Korea reaffirms commitment not to transfer nuclear technology, materials or know-how in an agreement at the Six-Party Talks
10 Oct 2007 Syria destroys rest of bombed reactor
Jan 2008 Overhead imagery shows new building at site, probably for cover-up purpose
24 Apr 2008 US releases briefing concerning al-Kibar reactor
29 Apr 2008 CIA director says reactor would have produced enough plutonium for 1–2 weapons a year


As for delivery systems for any nuclear weapons, Syria possesses several hundred Scud model B, C, and D missiles, and perhaps a thousand SS-21 missiles in addition to other airborne delivery (aircraft)systems. There is some evidence that Syria has had foreign assistance in upgrading its Scud model B missiles.

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).

Human Rights Situation in Syria 2012: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

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.