Tag Archives: Lebanon and Syria

Syria Update, March 10, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

10 Mar

Syria Update, March 10, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s early death toll: At least 68 killed.

Saturday’s death toll: More than 180 killed, including 69 civilians.
Tuesday death toll:

Syria’s opposition has again postponed a meeting to elect a provisional prime minister. The front-runner is Osama al-Qadi, an economist.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/10/us-syria-crisis-government-idUSBRE92904N20130310

The Islamic factions in control of large parts of eastern Syria have created a Shari’a Committee for the Eastern Region. The Committee will administrate its areas, establish a police force, courts, fatwa offices, humanitarian aid, and says it will guide people on the straight path.

It was reported that chemical weapons were used 2 months ago in Homs by Assad’s forces. The US State Department at first circulated and later denied such a report. But there appears to be strong medical evidence that a nerve gas, Agent XV was used. (Although this is the Daily Mail, I understand that tissue samples were taken and analyzed; it’s a pity that only the sensationalist media is carrying this story if it is correct)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2289769/Chemical-weapons-used-children-babies-Syria-Assads-army.html

Refugees and Relief:

Economic desperation has forced some refugee women into prostitution. Others have been married off to men who are forcing them to work as prostitutes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/08/syria-refugees-prostitution_n_2839383.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Obstacles to and lack of health care inside Syria
http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-syria-health-care-20130307,0,5787942.story

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres said that if the conflict in Syria continues, the number of Syria refugees could double or triple from the current one million registered refugees. http://www.dw.de/un-refugee-chief-syria-refugees-could-triple/a-16662087

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 regime forces bombarded Bani Zeid, Ein al-Tal, Karm al-Trab Ashrafiya, and Layramoun in Aleppo and clashes took place there as well. The neighborhoods of Jazmati and Masaken Hanano were bombarded and 3 people were killed in shelling of al-Sakhour. Violent clashes occurred near the Aleppo international airport and bthe Neyrab military airport where the opposition was bombarding both airports.

The Syrian military shelled al-Bab killing 4 civilians. 2 of the 21 bodies of unidentified men found in the Quweiq river, in the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of Aleppo, were identified. They were civilians who had disappeared several days ago.

Anti-FSA websites carried a video showing alleged FSA activists (they aren’t in the video) beating and kicking the Yellow Man of Aleppo, a local character who wears yellow clothing. He appears to be a harmless eccentric, but they call him a pimp.

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

Women’s and children’s clothing and human remains were unearthed today at al-Maliha near a regime base. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glvU0DHqDNo&feature=youtu.be
14 civilians from one family were found dead near al-Maliha and had been killed by regime forces.

Rocket shelling killed 3 children in pro-regime suburbs. Regime forces carried out raids and searches in al-Zahra al-Jadida. Several mortar shells fell on the Qaboun neighbourhood and the Yarmouk camp causing injuries. Aerial bombardment of parts of Khal al-Shih took places and there were clashes near the air defense division. Also, Jobar was bombarded.

The Syrian regime bombarded the towns and cities of Bhadliya, Douma, Zamalka, Mu’adamiya, Thiyabiya, and the Huseiniya camp using multiple rocket launchers and 4 civilians were killed in the shelling on Mu’adamiyya. The shelling of the town of al-Ateiba resumed and killed several civilians. Clashes took place in the eastern Ghouta and near several military checkpoints around the city of Harasta and the regime forces shelled Harasta.

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 bombarded the towns of al-Ghariyya al-Sharqiyya, al-Jamla, Kaheel, al-Katiba, Um al-Mayatheen, al-Shajara, al- Tseel, al-Na’ima, and Khirbet Ghazala. Clashes took place near the towns of Busr al-Harir and al-Na’ima.

Regime forces encircled the town of al-Sheikh Miskeen and closed the roads to the town

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

Syrian regime forces tortured to death 1 opposition fighter after capturing him in an ambush the 113th battalion. The airforce bombarded the city of al-Mayadeen.

Yesterday, a civilian, Muhammad No’man Al-Kubaisi; was killed near his store in Hamidiya in shelling of the neighborhood.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=496442377057590; and Fouad Al-Eshari was killed in the shelling of al-Matar al-Qadim neighborhood.

The regime forces committed a massacre at Jazrat Al-Bou Hamaid yesterday which killed: Bassel Dawood Sulaiman, Ammar Hassan Al-Awwa, Ammouneh Jasem Al-Muhammad, Amsha Jasem Al-Muhammad, Ghazya Ma’youf Saied Faraj, Abd Al-Aber, a member of the al-Askar family; two unknown person from M’adaan; a person from al-Haws, and a person from the village of Abu Khashab.

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 bombarded the town of Karnaz, killing 3 people and clashes took place there earlier when the opposition fighters attacked regime checkpoints. Regime forces bombarded the town of Qastoun. In clashes at al-Magheer, 8 regular soldiers were killed and the opposition took over checkpoints.

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

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the town of Tel 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

At dawn, opposition troops staged a surprise assault on Baba Amr, in Homs, the site of a previous terrible massacre by Assad’s troops. http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/syria-rebels-stage-surprise-assault-homs

In response to the rebel assault, Assad’s airforce bombs Baba Am. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/air-strikes-on-homs-district-attacked-by-syria-rebels-ngo-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=42664&NewsCatID=352

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 village of Ferkeya was hit with several rockets. Regime forces bombarded the towns of Deir Sharqi, Khan Shaikhoun, Has, Babluween, Heish, and Deir Gharbi.

Heavy clashes took place at a regime checkpoint near the town of Sehyan, and opposition fighters took over the checkpoint. Syrian regime forces detained a 14-year-old child who they tortured to death.

Latakia province:
https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=ghv_UOaOOMGW0QH88YDYDw&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Yesterday 1 man was killed, and several others injured, when regime forces fired from a military checkpoint in the Skentouri neighborhood of the city of Latakia.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Quneitra+governorate+Google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=Ch77ULCILuyP0QG67YDoDQ&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

Clashes took place near the entrance to the village of al-Ajraf after rebels ambushed 2 military vehicles, and there were reports of casualties.

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 government air force has bombed the northwestern city of Raqqa, killing a minimum of seven people in an airstrike and destroying buildings. It has been attacking Raqqa ever since opposition fighters seized much of the city from government troops earlier this week.
Opposition fighters shot down a regime war plane near Raqqah.
This video shows the aftermath of bombing of al-Rmeila neighborhood in Raqqa yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPHreYRucSg&feature=youtu.be

International:

The Philippine government welcomed the release of its 21 UN peacekeepers who were freed by Syrian opposition fighters after being abducted on Wednesday. They crossed to Jordan today.
“The Philippine government and its people express deep appreciation to the Jordanian government and military officials on the successful safe passing over to the Jordanian side of all our 21 Filipino peacekeepers,” read the statement. (AJE)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/03/20133915523149218.html

In Lebanon, Hani Qubbaisi defended Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour for his remarks on Wednesday to the Arab League calling for the reinstatement of Syria. (Syria has been suspended since November, 2011) March 14 coalition said Mansour represents Assad’s government rather than Lebanon. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2013/Mar-10/209531-mp-defends-mansour-over-syria-remarks.ashx#axzz2NA7sEcGx
On Friday, Razan Ghazzawi, human rights blogger and now out of Syria, spoke about her experiences. http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2013/03/08/blogging-revolution-syrian-human-rights-activist-razan-ghazzawi/
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

Shadi Jamil, great Syrian singer of the Allepine qudud, born in 1955 in Aleppo.

Hamam Khairi, another singer of the Allepine qudud and muwashshahat, a student of Sabah Fakhri and Shaykh Omar al-Batsh.

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).
http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

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).

Nabil Maleh, born in Damascus, film director since his first release “The Leopard” 1972, now living in the Gulf. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/9845/a-leopard-in-winter_an-interview-with-syrian-direc

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

Syria Update, December 14, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

15 Dec

Syria Update, December 14, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

Early death toll: More than 90 killed including 33 civilians.

Thursday’s death toll: 192 killed.

The U.S. reaction to Syria’s use of SCUD missiles on its opposition seems to be that it’s terrible to use SCUDs on one’s own population, but so long as the weapons were not tipped with chemical weapons, there may not be any further response. http://e-ring.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/12/syrian_scud_missile_escalation_perplexes_us_stuns_white_house

A 17 year old tries to rescue a woman shot by a sniper. She dies anyway.
http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/12/13/damon-syria-heroic-measures.cnn

Demonstrators in many provinces of Syria protested the U.S. designation of al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group today. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/64669-syrian-protesters-slam-u-s-blacklisting-of-al-nusra-as-fighting-rocks-capital-north

http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/syrie-pour-les-manifestants-le-terroriste-c-est-assad-et-pas-al-nosra-14-12-2012-1581440_24.php

A convoy from Manchester & Wales brought ambulances and medical supplies to Syria (well worth watching) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2OkQpQvcyM

The 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

The opposition has reportedly taken the Aleppo military academy.
http://www.ansa.it/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2012/12/14/Syria-rebels-seize-Aleppo-military-academy_7953348.html

The Syrian military resumed shelled of al-Sukkari, al-Halk, Salah al-Din, and al-Sakhour. Gunshots were reported at al-Lermon.

Clashes were ongoing between regime forces and the fighters of the Nusra Front near the defense factories close to the town of al-Sfeira. Clashes also continued near the al-Mushat infantry academy and there was shelling in that area.

The regime forces and the opposition engaged in clashes near the management college on the Aleppo-Damascus highway near al-Zarbeh killing 6 opposition fighters and 8 regular troops. The soldiers and officers guarding the college were captured. Yesterday the opposition took over the air-defense force’s battalion in Khanaser.

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, the regime forces pounded the southern districts of Damascus in response to Thursday’s car bombs at army residences which killed 24 . http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2099208.html

Dr. Abdullah Qayruzm, member of Parliament died of wounds received in one of the car bombs that exploded near the Ministry of the Interior in Kafrsouseh reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian government forces resumed shelling on Asali, Barazeh, Hajar al-Aswad, al-Qadam, Tadamun, killing a man in Barazeh. 3 opposition fighters were killed fighting with pro-Assad Palestinian militia fighters in clashes that included Uruba street, the Falastin hospital, near the Khalsa building, Thalatheen street in Yarmouk camp, and parts of Hajar al-Aswad.
On Thursday, a car bomb killed 16 in the southwestern suburb of Qatana. Those killed included 7 children and some women.

The Syrian regime forces shelled Daraya and the Eastern Ghouta. Clashes were fought near Daraya and Mu’adamiyya.

Clashes took place in the towns of Aqraba , al-Hjeira and in Sa’sa’. The Syrian regime shelled the towns of al-Hjeira, Mesraba, Muqeilabiyya, Sayyida Zaynab, and 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 regime’s forces carried out raid and arrests in al-Khat al-Shamali in Dara`a. The Syrian military’s shelling of Tseel at dawn today killed three men. The Syrian military also shelled Mzeirab, Tafas and Tal Shihab.

Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Na`ima and in Seida.

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

One opposition fighter was killed in clashes in Deir az-Zur city.

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 military shelled Aqeirbat, al-Latamna, Mas`oud, al-Na`ima and Qanbar.
Clashes broke out near the checkpoint close to the military grain depot to the east of Sooran, killing two opposition fighters. Then, the regime forces shelled Sooran and the nearby villages, killing 1 man.

Homs 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 in the morning near the presidential mosque in We’er in Homs.

The Syrian military forces shelled the city of al-Qseir killing one man and badly wounding others.
Idlib 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

Syrians protested against the U.S. labeling of Nusra Front as a terrorist organization, chanting “Jabha al-Nusra is part of us!” They said the U.S. should have labeled Bashar al-Assad a terrorist instead. One said that he did know if, and it didn’t matter if the leader of Jabha Nusra is Jordanian, the members are Syrian. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/12/20121214164411696160.html

The Syrian regime forces bombarded al-Bara, Deir Sharqi, Freika, Jarjanaz, Kafr A’weid, Shalekh, and the countryside near Jusr al-Shughour.

The Syrian airforce carrying out heavy bombing raids over Ma`arat al-Nu`man. Clashes took place by the Wadi al-Deif military base.

Latakia 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 air force shelled the town of Salma, and nearby villages in the Jabal al-Akrad.

International:
The U.S. plans to send 400 troops and 2 Patriot missile batteries to Turkey to help defend it against attacks by the Assad regime.
The Netherlands and Germany have already consented to send two Patriot missile batteries (each) and 360 Dutch and 400 German troops to Turkey.
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-us-will-send-400-troops-to-turkey-20121214,0,5108370.story

Syrian shells were fired into the Lebanese border towns of Menjed, al-Noura and Hekr Jenin. The International Crisis Group produced this report on the effect of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon. http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2012/mena/a-precarious-balancing-act-lebanon-and-the-syrian-conflict.aspx

The Russian deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdonov said on Thursday for the first time that an opposition victory cannot be ruled out and that there is a “trend” (ongoing) in which the Assad government is losing control of territory. After the US congratulated Russia for “waking up,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich insisted on Friday that Russia had not and will not change its position on Syria.
The NCC, the opposition group opposed to the National Council for the Syrian Revolution (and which the FSA regards as being pro-Assad) is in Moscow because Russia wants to use the NCC to negotiate with Assad. Their position is complicated and sometimes contradictory, and the opposition inside Syria do not trust them for various reasons, including the fact that they do not call for Assad to leave power. Haytham Manna, of the NCC said that the US should not support both a peace deal and the opposition since the two avenues contradict each other, whereas most Syrians would argue that they will accept whatever circumstances ends Assad’s rule, so long as he and those who support the regime, step down, leave the country and cease their killing of Syrian citizens. http://world.time.com/2012/12/14/russia-and-its-syrian-debacle-when-the-enemy-of-my-friend-becomes-my-friend/

The Arab League’s peace plan may go to the United Nations if Assad does not sign onto the plan. There is some frustration that Assad has held out for weeks after signaling some willingness to comply with the plan. Reuters later reported that Qatar had stated it had information that Assad would sign the plan. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/17/us-syria-idUSTRE7B90F520111217
Photographs and an article for those unfamiliar with the Syrian conflict here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/24/world/meast/syria-101/index.html

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.