Tag Archives: Syrian conflict

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

26 Apr

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

Aftermath of a shelling in Qusayr (which killed 10, see below)

President Assad uses his connections to try to convince the US and American media that they are supporting “Islamic terrorists” and the wrong side of the war in Syria. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/world/middleeast/syria-campaigns-to-persuade-us-to-change-sides.html?hp&_r=0

PLEASE sign to demand the release of Syria’s nonviolent prisoners (and share)
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2507/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13220

Strategy by the Syrian regime has shifted to seeking control of the highways. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/syria-army-shifts-war-highways

Where does Syria’s Shi`a community stand? Some Shi`i joined the opposition. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/04/201342491851986116.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

Yesterday (Wednesday) the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo has collapsed because of the violent clashes taking place next to it. This minaret has been in place for almost 1000 years,; it was built at the time of the Seljuk empire in the 11th century.
http://www.arabnews.com/news/449296

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

The Syrian regime forces captured al-Oteiba to the east of Damascus after five weeks of battle yesterday in a setback to the opposition. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/26/Syrian-troops-capture-key-town-near-Damascus.html

Opposition fighters from the town of al-Oteiba (taken over yesterday by regime forces using the airforce, tanks and multiple rocket launchers ) have released this video about the creation of a new battalion, Liwa’ al-Shabab al-Sadiqeen (Battalion of the Honest Men). They state that they have resisted the Assad regime for 40 days without adequate support from others.

Heavy clashes took place in Harasta. Unknown gunmen shot an engineer in the village of Kafrhour.

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

Footage of the killed brigadier general of the 38th brigade in Rif Dara`a. He was killed last month on 23/3/2013 after rebels from several factions, including al-Nusra, stormed the 38th battalion. His head is decapitated in the second video.

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

Jabat al-Nusra and other opposition battallions targeted an armored vehcilce in Tariq Halab in the city of Hama, burning alive some regular soldiers.

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

Three airstrikes were carried out on the city of Homs today. Violent clashes occurred in the city of Homs between regular and opposition forces at the outskirts of the neighborhoods of Wadi al-Seih and Jouret al-Shayah. Regular forces shelled these areas which they have been trying to invade. The Syrian military shelled areas of the town of Sakhna which are currently controlled by the al-Islam battalion.

The Syrian regime forces bombarded the villages of al-Tiba and al-Koum from the air, killing 1 civilian and injuring 12. The Syrian regular forces bombarded the al-Basatin area of Palmyra. At least 4 security forces were killed by an ambush on the Homs-Palmyra road.

Air strikes in Qusayr (see also above) were carried out by the Syrian military. And killed 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GcTG9TT8lXE

Opposition fighters accuse Hizbullah of widening the war by their attacks in this area. http://www.voanews.com/content/syria-opposition-accuses-hezbollah-of-widening-war/1648619.html

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

Clashes occurred at the edges of the town of Kamam killing 3 rebel fighters. Both regular and national defence units have been trying to overtake this town. A woman died today in the village of Daba`a from wounds received there in the regime’s aerial bombardment. The Syrian regular forces shelled the towns of al-Dar al-Kabira, Nahlaiya and Kafrnajd. The latter two were shelled by Syrian military at the al-Mastouma encampment near the city of Idlib.

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

Opposition forces were hit by the Syrian regime in airstrikes today in Raqqah, Hassakeh, Damascus, Idlib and Dara`a provinces. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/warplanes-hit-rebels-across-syria-watchdog

International:

Hikmat Massarwa, a member of Israel’s Arab minority attended a remand hearing at the Central District Court in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on Thursday.
Israel charged Massarwa this month with security offenses for joining Syria’s rebel forces against President Bashar al-Assad and said that he had associated with radical fighters.

Some members of the U.S. Congress (and Senator John McCain) urged President Barack Obama to take action to “secure” Syria’s chemical weapons after he warned Thursday that strongman Bashar al-Assad likely used them against his own people. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/us-lawmakers-demand-action-syria-chemical-weapons

Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zeid al-Hussein sent a letter to the United Nations security council saying that the Syrian refugee influx is a humanitarian crisis and a threat to Jordan’s security and stability. http://www.theprovince.com/news/Jordan+tells+Syrian+refugee+influx+threatening+security/8295950/story.html

This op-ed states that the US is “inching” toward action in Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22303554

Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov slams the “Friends of Syria” and exposes Russia’s differences with Turkey on Syria. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-312876-lavrov-slams-friends-of-syria-lays-bare-differences-with-turkey.html

A Primer on Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Sherifa Zuhur. Director, Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies.
sherifazuhur@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Institute-of-Middle-Eastern-Islamic-and-Strategic-Studies/168189513225439?ref=hl

In August of 2012, U.S. President Obama warned the Syrian government not to use chemical weapons and stated that their use would be unacceptable. He also promised to aid the opposition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bsO3ehh8UEk

The opposition has demanded an inquiry into the current use of chemical weapons (CW) on 3/18/13 in an incident in Khan Assal in Aleppo province. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-chemicalsbre92j0r4-20130320,0,1185396.story Thus far, the U.S. ambassador has said it is unlikely. But if it occurred, would the U.S. make good on its promise to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government or not? To the first question — have chemical weapons been used?

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. The country has SCUD missiles and SS-21 missiles, both of which may be fitted to CW warheads.

Between late November and early December of 2012, the U.S. government was provided information indicating that Syria was mixing and moving its CW stores, probably for intended use. Photographs showed soldiers preparing precursor chemicals, and army units loading CW onto military transport. In this same period there were some claims of use of a gas or chemical weapon by those injured in Homs and other areas, and some of the injured were biopsied. The most recent claims of March 18, 2013 involve an attack on Khan al-Assal, an area in Aleppo, where the opposition had captured a police academy, and where the Syrian government troops and air force had been attacking in an effort to recapture. It appears the Syrian air force used a missile which then mistakenly hit Syrian forces in the opposition-held area, killing 16 Syrian troops and 10 opposition fighters. (SOHR 3/18, 3/19) The Syrian government’s claim that it was the opposition which had and used CW follows its pattern of terming the opposition “terrorists,” and also may have been expressed to cover up the mistake made by the Syrian military for firing on its own fighters. The missiles were fired from the Nayrab district. The opposition quickly denied that it has any such weapons; indeed the stockpiles are held by the Syrian government (Youtube and Barnard, NYT 3/19/13) Breathing difficulties, bluish skin and suffocation of some of the 26 victims were reported and a Reuters reporter confirmed seeing these symptoms and smelling chorine in the air.

In December one of the fighting groups of the FSA seized one of Syria’s facilities about 40 miles from Aleppo near the Euphrates river, the SYSSACO plant which manufactures chemicals including chlorine. At the time, al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper sympathetic to the Assad regime claimed that there were 100-kilogram tanks of chlorine at that facility. ( http://digitaljournal.com/article/338771 ) The rebels declared the area a closed zone. It seems highly unlikely that the 3/18 bombing could have come from these stocks, or direction.

Events are moving swiftly. Here the Mujahidin Shura Council seizes poison gas (type unidentified) from the Khan Toman military warehouse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnANeCjPCuc&feature=youtu.be
But we should remember that the filled warheads and missiles are in the hands of the Syrian government, its researchers and military.

Previous Use of an CW Agent

The Syrian military attacked the city of Homs (which has been besieged for months) on December 23rd. Victims of attacks on that day suffered from nervous system, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms after inhaling a gas on that day. Medical personnel and activists reported the incident, and the U.S. State Department engaged in an investagion from the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul but concluded CW had not been used. Some of the victims of this attack continued to suffer after fleeing as refugees and I was told that some biopsied tissue was returned to the U.S. for evaluation but have not seen any conclusions.

Other Possibilities.

Tear gas is used by the Syrian military (as by other police and militaries) but it is not considered CW, as it is non-lethal. Other CW elements like chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas have been used since World War One in warfare, and are possessed by the Syrian government Chlorine is a powerful agent which burns the throat, nose, eyes and lungs and may kill via asphyxiation. It is water-soluble and masks or the use of a wet cloth have been used to protect against the gas. Phosgene is even deadlier than chlorine, and as a war gas is often mixed with chlorine.

Syria has not signed, nor acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Its primary rationale for not renouncing chemical weapons is that Israel poses a threat to Syrian security. Jane’s Defense has reported on Syria’s upgrading of its CW since 2005, a process reliant on Iranian assistance.

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.

In the summer and fall of 2012, there were 2 warnings that chemical weapons stockpiles were being moved within the country and one claim (by a U.S. official) that Syria has begun mixing sarin – the components are to be stored separately.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-would-assad-use-chemical-weapons

These claims prompted warnings from the United States, France and other nations including China. Russia and Syria denied that Syria would use its chemical arsenal.

Syria’s Biological Weapons Program

Syria is a signatory to the Biological Toxic Weapons Convention, but has not ratified that Convention. Just as its CW 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 (NTI) held a far more restrained view of Syria’s capabilities in BW development.

A detailed, but accessible interview with Jill Dekkar is here:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/13108/sec_id/13108

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

19 Jan

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

Today’s early death toll: More than 120, including 54 civilians.

Friday’s death toll: 141 including 56 martyrs in Damascus; 41 in Aleppo, 19 in Idlib; 16 in Daraa; 5 in Hama; 2 in Dayr az-Zur, and 2 in Homs

Hizbullah and Iraqi Shi`i fighters’ recruitment video (aiding Assad forces in Syria).
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0118/Video-appears-to-show-Hezbollah-and-Iraqi-Shiites-fighting-in-Syria

Understatement of the day: a cyberwar is raging over the Syrian conflict. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130118/C4ISR01/301180018

Refugees: Human Rights Watch cautions Egypt not to return Syrian refugees to Syria. http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/18/egypt-don-t-force-palestinians-back-syria

A miserable situation for the more than 212,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caroline-gluck/a-refuge-from-syria-confl_b_2501293.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

The FSA reported that it had captured the air defense base at Aleppo International Airport. 3 opposition fighters were killed in clashes near Managh military airport and in the Saif al-Dawlaw area. 3 civilians were killed by mortars falling on the Jisr al-Haj roundabout in Aleppo. 4 civilians, including 2 children were killed by rockets which hit Haydariyya and Dahr Awad. The Syrian military’s bombardment of al-Sfeira killed one child.

On Thursday, French journalist Yves Debay was killed by a sniper in Aleppo. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=551682634841822&set=a.458668167476603.111426.438082926201794&type=1&theater

On Monday, January 21st, some faculty and university students will observe a vigil for those killed at the University of Aleppo earlier this week.

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

6 civilians (all women) were killed by a rocket which hit wedding hall in the Rukn al-Din neighborhood. The Syrian regime forces shelled Hajar al-Aswad As many as 80 explosions were heard in Daraya on Saturday morning, following airstrikes by the Syrian military. Military reinforcements were seen heading to Daraya which the government has been attempting to recatppure.

The Syrian military employed fighter aircraft in 2 air raids on the Douma. Clashes took place in al-Mleiha as well as bombardment of that town. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Wadi Barada.

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 opposition and government forces clashed in the city of Dara`a, Busra al-Sham and Busr al-Harir killing 4 opposition fighters including a commander. The Syrian military resumed shelling of Busr al-Harir A sniper killed 2 men in Da’el and al-Hrak and mortar shells were fired on al-Hrak. The Syrian regime forces killed a man from Tafas in Jeleen. The Syrian military carried out a series of raids and arrests in Kafarshams.

Opposition fighters assassinated a member of the National Reconciliation Committee, Khaled al-Hilal, and 3 companions on the Sheheib-Tel Saqr road.
Soldiers at the checkpoint outside of al-Hara began firing and wounded civilians. The Syrian military forces carried out raids and arrests in Qerfa, and burnt homes there. A sniper in Da’el shot a nurse there.

Yesterday, Al Jazeera reporter Mohammad Hourani was killed in Dara`a by a regime-paid sniper.

A UN delegation set off from the Syrian capital, Damascus on Saturday for a visit to the southern city of Dara, led by John Ging, the Operations Director at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
They also intend to visit Homs, as well as rural areas of Damascus province.

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 military continued its heavy shelling of the neighborhoods of the city of Deir az-Zur today.

Abd al-Aziz al-Haroon was killed by the Syrian regime and here is a video of his funeral procession http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BXpq3oGroE&feature=youtu.be

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 bombarded Kafarzeita from the air, killing at least 3 civilians. The Syrian military also shelled the village of Senjar.

Here is footage from Kafarzeita:

The Syrian military also shelled the town of Latmin.

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 opposition and Kurdish Defense Unit fighters have engaged in clashes for two days in the city of Ra’s al-`Ain resulting in 33 casualties (28 opposition fighters and 5 KDU fighters). Clashes also took place in Karzero to the east of al-Rmeilan. 23 regular Syrian troops have defected from the battalion near that location in the last 48 hours.
The local branch of the Kurdish National Council called on the opposition to intervene in a (jihadist) assault in Ra’s al-`Ayn, saying that the offensive is targeting civilians and is “detrimental to the principles of the revolution.”
Here is footage of Syrian Kurdish civilians captured by opposition fighters in the city also known as Serekaniyeh, abusing and beating them.

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 Houla today:

The Syrian military shelled the al-Khaldiya neighborhood of Homs today.

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 opposition destroyed at least one tank near the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The opposition has been trying for weeks to take control of the military bases at Hamdiyeh and Wadi Deif and are now trying to cut off the supply routes to these bases.

In Salqin, Syrian air force targeted a mosque and a school building where displaced Syrians were eating in Salqin. Dozens were killed and 30 wounded were taken to Turkey for treatment.

The Syrian military bombarded the town of Taftanaz, and the towns of Babluween, al-Habeet and al-Teh.

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

Opposition fighters of the Liberation of Quneitira Battalion captured a Syrian regular mitliary officer and 4 soldiers after attacking their unit in the village al-Zebeida al-Gharbiya. Here they threaten to put them on trial according to “Islamic shari`ah” (although Islamic rules of war forbid ill-treatment of prisoners of war.)

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 air force bombarded the city of al-Tabqa killing 5 civilians, all from the same refugee family from Idlib, 3 were children, and their mother and grandmother were also killed.

The Syrian military and opposition clashed near the 17th division in the countryside of al-Raqqah and 2 opposition fighters were killed.

International:

U.S. Senator John McCain said that Washington could do more to back Syrian efforts to end the rule of Bashar al-Assad. He was leading a group of US senators in a trip to the region and his remarks preceded a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition and Revolution is meeting in Istanbul in an effort to form a Syrian transitional government. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/19/us-syria-crisis-opposition-idUSBRE90I0DZ20130119
UNICEF denounced the killings of civilians and particularly children over the last week in Syria. 3,538 children have been killed since the non-violent demonstrations against the Assad government were first met with regime violence in March of 2011.
The government of Croatia has recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the representative of the Syrian people. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2287787&language=en
The Stances of Some Syria “Scholars”

Najib Ghadbian

David Lesch
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/20/the_dictator_of_damascus

Fred Lawson and Amr al-Azm
http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201212130930

Amr al-Azm
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1166864.files/Middle%20Eastern%20Policy%202012%20%20The%20Syrian%20Uprising%207430%20Harvard%20University%20_1%20TXT_PDF%20PROOF_9.pdf

Joshua Landis
http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/syrian-uprising-2011-why-asad-regime-likely-survive-2013

Ray Hinnebusch
http://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/ia/archive/view/181599

Omar Dahi, Samer Abboud
http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/09/socio-economic-challenges/ei3y

Thomas Pierret
http://www.neareastquarterly.com/index.php/2012/03/20/the-role-of-the-mosque-in-the-syrian-revolution/

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm
http://traduccionsiria.blogspot.com/2012/12/entrevista-con-el-pensador-sadeq-jalal.html

Moshe Ma’oz

Mordechai Kedar, Tony Badran, Marina Ottoway (not a Syria expert)
http://www.themorningsidepost.com/2012/11/21/great-debate-intervention-in-syria/

Volker Perthes
http://mediacenter.dw.de/arabic/video/item/776491/

Omar Dahi
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/14/scholar_omar_dahi_on_the_economic

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/syria-s-opposition-must-cooperate-to-defeat-assad-by-volker-perthes

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/syria-s-opposition-must-cooperate-to-defeat-assad-by-volker-perthes

Aron Lund – has written a book on Syria, and a book on Libya – on Syrian jihadism here
http://www.ui.se/upl/files/77409.pdf

newer article

http://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/syrie–les-islamistes-conquierent-la-rebellion_fr_art_1180_61574.html

Peter Sluglett and James Dorsey
http://www2.channelnewsasia.com/perspectives/video/kofi-annans-resignation-and-the-syrian-crisis/

Sadeq al-Azm http://en.qantara.de/A-New-Spirit-of-Revolution/15850c39/index.html

Philip Khoury
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/qa-khoury-middle-east.html

Majid Rafizadeh
http://www.france24.com/en/20120831-syria-majid-rafizadeh-kidnap-family-targetted-civil-war-shabiha-opposition-bashar-assad

miriam cooke (she uses lower case for her name)
http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/01/09/1758500/dont-turn-away-from-syrias-agony.html

Syria Update, December 9, 2012. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

10 Dec

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

Early death toll: More than 60.

Saturday’s death toll: More than 100 including 61 unarmed civilians

Is the U.S. sending the Syrian opposition some weaponry from Libya? Framing this as a question because the U.S. government does not discuss covert actions. http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-admin-admits-to-covertly-sending-heavy-weapons-to-syrian-rebels-2012-12

The Free Syrian Army has captured equipment from the regular troops which is meant to be used with the deployment of chemical weapons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyKSc0jDPTw&feature=player_embedded

Syria’s Assyrians have a complex relationship with Bashar’s Syria. On the one hand the Assyrian Democratic Organization, along with other groups called for more democracy in 2005 and was targeted by the regime. On the other hand, the Assyrian church has not (or not dared) critique the state whose Ba`thist ideology does not recognize the Assyrian (non-Arab) identity, but which claims to be the protector of religious minorities. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2012/Dec-07/197551-syrias-assyrians-caught-in-the-middle.ashx#axzz2EUABngmP

Nine state judges and prosecutors have defected from the Assad regime.
http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20121210145506

Syrian rebels warn travelers to avoid Damascus airport
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/world/middleeast/syria-conflict-developments.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&ref=middleeast&adxnnlx=1354996909-vvvVxAbJMcdH79M33R2fKw

Aleppo province: Opposition fighters of the Nusra Front, the al-Battar and Mukhiri al-Sham battalions prevailed over 3 brigades and the command center of the 111th regiment in the Shaykh Sulayman area. This took place after they fought overnight with 2 opposition fighters and 1 government soldier dead. 140 regime soldiers with their officers, fled to the Research Center also in this area.

The FSA captured the town of Khanaser in the southern part of Aleppo province today.

Damascus province: An explosion rocked the al-Fahama area of Damascus near the al-Talaie’ park and the security forces then spread through that area. Clashes took place between the regime and the opposition forces in the al-Qadam neighbourhood. The Syrian regime forces bombarded the southern neighbourhoods of Damascus. A young man was killed in al-A’sali. An electricity converter exploded in al-Qaboun after being hit a shell.

The Syrian military’s shelling continued today on Daraya and al-Mu`adamiyya and there were clashes in the area. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Beit Sahem and `Ain Tarma. Clashes were ongoing outside of the towns of A’qraba, Beit Sahem and Sidi Meqdad and Beit Sahem. The Syrian military carried out heavy shelling on Zamalka.

BBC’s view of Damascus:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20659573

The Dara`a-Damascus highway was blocked due to clashes on the road.

Dara`a province: 2 shells fell on the town of al-Karak al-Sharqi The Syrian military stormed Tal Shihab in Dar`a.

Hama province: Syrian government military forces invaded the al-Arb’in neighbourhood of Hama, and carried out raids and arrests.

The Syrian government forces shelled the villages of Jabal Shaheshbo

Hassake province: The FSA is distributing gas near Ra’s al-`Ayn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn3fNY6W-qU&feature=youtu.be

Homs province: The regime forces shelled the neighborhoods of Jobar and al-Sultaniya of Homs.

Unknown gunmen fired 4 rockets onto the Armenian neighbourhood of Homs, killing 14 civilians and damaging two buildings. (The above mentioned bombardment via jets hit the parts of Jobar thought to be affiliated with the opposition).

Idlib province: The regime forces shelled the villages of Deir Sharqi and al-Tah Clashes took place between rebel and regular forces in the south western areas of M’aret al-Nu’man while the regime forces also bombarded the northern areas of Ma`arat al-Nu`man and the towns of Deir Sharqi and Talmans. Intermittent clashes are took place near the Wadi al-Deif encampment. The regime forces also shelled the village of al-Bara.

Latakia province: The Syrian government’s military shelled the villages of Ghmam and Qasab as well as Salma and the villages around it.

Quneitra province: The Syrian regime forces shelled the town of Jebata al-Khashab and used heavy machineguns.

Al-Raqqa province: A huge explosion rocked al-Raqqa today.

Syria’s young rappers have censored themselves, but express important truths about the political situation. http://www.arabbeatsandrhymes.com/2012/10/23/fear-threats-and-self-censorship-among-syrian-rappers/

A tribute to a Syrian who died in 1989, and whose life showed how impossible it was to stand up to corruption under the Assads.
http://alpha.syriadeeply.org/syrian-stories-ii/#.UMUvDmAuihY

International:

Clashes erupting from the Syrian conflict killed 4 and wounded 40 before dawn Sunday in the Bab al-Tebenneh area of Tripoli, Lebanon. The Lebanese Army will be imposing order beginning Monday. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Dec-10/197874-army-to-impose-tripoli-security-plan.ashx#axzz2EbRw1Yn6

Romania’s ambassador to Syria has left the country and relocated to Beirut due to security concerns. He will remain there and monitor the situation in Syria.

Israel claims to have special forces inside Syria that are tracking the movements of Syria’s chemical stocks. http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/12/09/report-israeli-special-forces-inside-syria-tracking-chemical-and-biological-weapons/

A few of Syria’s historical and archaeological treasures are: the remains of Palmyra (Tadmur), and the citadel of Ibn Maan, the early Bronze Age site of Ebla, the Citadel of Aleppo constructed by Salah al-Din al-Ayubi and the khans, madaris, suqs and Great Mosque of Aleppo, the theater and ruined town at Bosra (also site of the Mabrak an-Nabi where the Prophet Muhammad’s camel kneeled) the Canaanite city of Ugarit at Ras Shamra, Douro-Europas, the Greek colony on the Euphrates near Salhiye, Tal Faras and Tal Muhammad Diab in Hassake, Tal Brak, the Bronze Age Atchana, Ain Dara, sites at Qanawat, Shahba, and Suwaida, the Ummayad mosque, the citadel, suqs and other sites in the Old City in Damascus such as the Street called Straight, the Azm palace, and the Tekiyye mosque complex in Damascus; the chapel of St. Sergius in Ma`lula, the Hijaz railway station, the Crusader castle, Krak de Chevaliers, Salah al-Din’s castle built on the Saone fortress, Jaabar Castle, the Great Mosque an-Nuri, the mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and many churches and older buildings in Homs, and the citadel, Roman era water-wheels and khans of Hama.

Syria Update, November 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

27 Nov

Syria Update November 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Today’s death toll: More than 123.

Yesterday’s death toll: More than 140.

Aleppo province: The Syrian opposition captured the Tishrin Dam in the north just before dawn on Monday. http://arabnews.com/syrian-rebels-seize-major-dam-north-russia-slams-french-support Here the rebels seized the control room yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LdSPTP6s-YI

2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with government forces in al-Leirmon in the city of Aleppo. Clashes took place on the edges of the al-Sakhour neighborhood.
The Syrian military shelled Mare’ and Tal Hasel.

Damascus province: Syrian military shelling resumed today targeting Jobar and Kafrsousa and there were clashes between the opposition and the government forces in Kafrsousa. The Syrian military again shelled the southern neighborhoods of Damascus by air. Clashes took place in al-Zablatani. A mortar shell killed one person at Yarmouk camp. At dawn, clashes broke out between shabiha in the Duweil’a neighborhood and the opposition who were trying to overtake the neighborhood.

Yesterday, the opposition captured a helicopter base at Marj al-Sultan outside Damascus. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/nov/26/syrian-rebels-helicopter-base-video Also see
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/11/25/syrie-l-armee-reguliere-bombarde-les-environs-de-damas_1795628_3218.html

An explosion resulting from a mortar shell was heard in Jaramana. The Syrian military shelled Duma and clashes took place there. The Syrian military detained and tortured one civilian from Duma to death. 3 men were killed in Duma yesterday. Clashes took place in Daraya as the Syrian military attempted to take over the town. One opposition fighter was killed in Daraya. The Syrian military also shelled Daraya, Jdeidat Artouz, al-Rihan, Zabadani and Mu`adamiyya, killing 5 men in Mu`adamiyya today. The Syrian military shelled the Ghouta al-Sharqiyya by air. Clashes took place in Hujeira, Sayyida Zeinab, Yalda and Zamalka. In the morning, the Syrian military shelled the town of Irbeen, killing 2 children. Yesterday, the Syrian military shelled Deir al-Asafir, killing 10 children (some reports indicate 8 children). Cluster bombs were reportedly used. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5wWZ6yGCZ8&feature=player_embedded

Dara`a province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in several parts of Shaykh Maskeen and destroyed houses after shelling the city in the morning. A massacre was reported there by a different source. The Syrian military used tanks to invade the town of Maliha al-Gharbiyya. A sniper loyal to Assad shot an elderly woman, Fatmeh Abd al-Rahman Hariri, in Hreik and civilians retrieved her body after 6 hours. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2L7U84LaHc&feature=youtu.be

Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Damina today.

Hassakeh province: The Kurdish fighters of the PYD and the Syrian opposition forces have achieved a truce at Ra’s al-`Ain according to leadership of the Ghuraba al-Sham group.

Homs province:
The Syrian military intensely shelled al-Rastan. The entire family of Mahmoud Adnan Farzat was killed or wounded. Earlier 1 civilian (Farzat’s child) and 6 opposition fighters were reported to be killed in the shelling. 1 civilian died from wounds incurred in yesterday’s shelling of Qusayr. 1 killed in al-Houleh. 3 killed in al-Qusayr. Clashes took place near the town of Qteina.

Idlib province: The Syrian air force bombed the opposition at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing at least six times according to observers, injuring many. The Syrian planes also bombed the refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border which are run by a Turkish charity. Fortunately, the tents were empty.
The Syrian military shelled the villages and towns of al-Bara, al-Fatira, KafrAweid and Taftanaz. An unidentified body was discovered in the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man. The Syrian air force shelled opposition bases in the town of Harem, killing one fighter and wounding others. The air force also shelled the town of Atmeh, which is very close to a refugee camp. Turkey fired back at the Syrian air force there. The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in the village of Sallat al-Zuhour.

al-Quneitra province: Yesterday, clashes took place near al-Bariqa village in the liberated part of the Syrian Golan.

The Syrian opposition has formed a commission to set up the future army of a new Syrian government and to coordinate with the new National Coalition, the political opposition Some 50 Free Syrian Officers met and were videoed in a meeting where a statement of objectives and a code of conduct was read. (The FSA has claimed to have as many as 70,000 soldiers, but there is no way to confirm that figure)
al-Raqqa province: The Syria opposition cut off the roads going into Aleppo province which have been important to the regime’s supply lines.
International: France will give the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition 1.2 million Euros to aid its efforts.
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/11/26/la-france-alloue-1-2-million-d-euros-a-la-coalition-de-l-opposition-syrienne_1796216_3218.html

The importance of the opposition’s victories in the east of Syria in an interview with Amr al-Azm
http://www.theworld.org/2012/11/syria-rebels-oil/

The National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition appointed a human rights activist, Walid Safur as its ambassador the UK. Safur, 62 and a former teacher originally from Homs is the president of the Syrian Commission for Human Rights.

Musa Abu Marzuk of Hamas said that Iran must reconsider its support for the Syrian regime in order not to lose support in Arab public opinion. He said that Iran had asked Hamas to support the Syrian regime, Hamas refused and the organization’s relationship with Iran has been affected. (Hamas relocated its leadership to Egypt).

The buying and selling of Syrian refugee brides is taking place, partly as a form of survival, partly in response to what might be called marriage market factors.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/search-for-syrian-brides-unsettles-refugees-in-jordan-8348009.html

The Turkish military announced that Turkish and NATO officials will begin surveying sites for the placement of Patriot missiles to protect its borders against the Syrian military.

UNRWA says that it needs $53 million to care for Palestinians in Syria. 510,000 registered Palestinian refugees are in Syria.

Syria: A Brief Chronology

1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.

1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.

1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.

1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)

1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.

1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.

1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.

1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).

1946. The French withdraw from Syria.

1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.

1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.

1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.

1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.

1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.

1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.

1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.

1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.

1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.

1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.

1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.

1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.

1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.

1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.

1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.

1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.

1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.

2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.

2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.

2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.

2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.

2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.

2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.

2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.

2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.

2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.

2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.

2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.

2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.

2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.

2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.

2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.

2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.

2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.

2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.

2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.

2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.

2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria from the 3rd of Oct until the end of the month. This initially caused NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.

2012 November: With support from the GCC states and the United States, a new Syrian opposition coalition was created called the National Coalition of the Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition. Elections had been held by the Syrian National Council, but claims were made that the new entity was more broadly representative and the new coalition plans to create a transitional government and work toward the downfall of Bashar al-Assad and his institutions.

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

21 Nov

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

Early death toll: 108 persons including 40 civilians.

Revised death toll for Monday: 134 killed.

The UK has agreed to recognize the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578130834104211440.html

Aleppo province: The bodies of 6 civilians who had been summarily executed by the Syrian military were found in Tariq al-Bab. The Syrian military killed one man in shelling on Salahaddin. Shelling of Manah injured several persons. A sniper killed a woman in Jami`yat al-Zahra. The Liwa al-Tawhid Brigade, the Aleppo Military Council and the Transitional Military Council announced their allegiance to the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-VB95oTJdS8
Yesterday, base 46 of the Syrian military was taken by the Syrian opposition and today, reporters of Associated Press saw the bodies of 7 Syrian troops there.

The Syria military shelled the village of Hoor killing one child. Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes near the air defense base in Shaykh Sleiman.

Damascus province: Heavy shelling destroyed buildings and killed 10 civilians in Daraya today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdlOnIqD_SM&feature=youtu.be
Shelling on Hajar al-Aswad killed 4 civilians today. A body was found in al-Jobar and a body discovered in al-Qadam. 2 mortar shells were launched into the Syrian Ministry of Information building in central Damascus. 3 dead bodies showing the marks of torture were found in Mu’adamiyyat al-Sham. A mortar shell fell on my former neighborhood of Abu Rumaneh in Damascus (I used to live underneath the perennially unscheduled Constitutional Court) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aI-8hyQcPzM

Shelling on al-Shifoniya killed one civilian. Three men’s bodies were found in Harasta, and a sniper killed one in Harasta. In Harasta,and Irbeen 4 opposition fighters were killed by Syrian troops. Opposition fighters killed one man in Yabrub, presumably for sectarian reasons. One opposition fighter was killed in gunfire at a checkpoint in the city of Dumeir. A sniper killed a civilian from the village of Qalat al-Faki in the town of Sehnaya today.

Dara`a province: Heavy clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition were reported near Dara`a’s highway today.

Deir az-Zur province: 3 Syrian troops were killed here today. Ahmad Amir Abboud al-Hajr was killed today as well. ttp://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=449531371748691&set=a.193299227371908.37088.193044387397392&type=1&relevant_count=1
Syrian military air strikes on al-Mayadden killed Ammar Ibrahim Al Shlash, a child.

and Khalifah Ahmad Abdulfattah.

Hassake province: Renewed fighting in Ra’s al-`Ain resulted in the deaths of 4 members of the Kurdish defense units (of the DUP). 14 opposition fighters from the Nusra Front and the Ghuraba al-Sham brigade were killed in clashes with the Kurdish fighters.

al-Homs province: The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Qseir killing 1 civilian. Pro-regime shabiha killed one civilian today. 1 civilian was killed by the bombardment on the city of al-Qseir. 1 civilian was killed after he was kidnapped by pro-regime gunmen. 11 Syrian troops were killed today in Homs province.

Idlib province: The Syrian military killed one opposition fighter in Ma`arat al-Nu`man and shelled that town today. 5 Syrian troops were killed in the province today. A Syria fighter jet blasted the town of Taftaz. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFvjqoI7o64&feature=player_embedded

Latakia province: The Syrian military shelled Jabal al-Turkman. 2 opposition fighters were killed in clashes with the Syrian military in the Latakia countryside. 5 Syrian troops were killed in this province today.

Al-Raqqah province: 1 Syrian soldier was killed today.

International:

The UK has agreed to recognize the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578130834104211440.html

NATO member states agreed to supply Turkey with Patriot missiles to defend its borders against Syrian attacks. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-syria-crisis-turkey-idUSBRE8AJ0FE20121120

The head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party rejected the new National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition today. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-syria-kurds-opposition-idUSBRE8AJ1FV20121120

The Friends of Syria group which supports the Syrian opposition is set to convene in Marrakesh, Morocco on December 12th and Hilary Clinton, currently, US Secretary of State, is to attend along with more than 100 delegations.
Iran has started building a $10 million natural gas pipeline to Syria which is to pass through Iraq. http://www.arabnews.com/iran-starts-building-gas-pipeline-syria

Among Syria’s Creative Figures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Oct

Syria Update, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 150 Syrians including 73 unarmed civilians.

Yesterday’s death toll: 190.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has indicated to Russia that it will accept UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s proposal for a ceasefire in Syria over the Eid al-Adha holiday according to Moscow’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

Aleppo province: 2 opposition fighters and 13 Syrian troops were killed today.

Damascus province: A car-bomb exploded in the area between the Tadamun and Daf al-Shawk neighbourhoods killing 6 and wounded at least 20. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in Tadamon and in al-Qaboun. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled Mu`adamiyya killing dozens of civilians and wounding others.

20 bodies of civilians were discovered in the Taxi Haydar building, in the city of Douma. The dead included 4 children and 8 women, killed by the Syrian regime. Firing on Harasta killed 1 opposition fighter and 3 civilians, including a woman. The Syrian military bombarded the area around the town of Zamalka by air. 2 men were found dead in the town of al-Sabina. 1 man was killed in the town of Deir Sleiman.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled Tafas and Tariq al-Sid today.

Deir az-Zur province: 4 were killed today, including 2 Syrian military troops. This video shows armed men gathering around a Free Syrian Army – marked truck and boarding of a helicopter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyZ0FWQi8CA&feature=player_embedded

Hasake province: Unknown gunmen caused an explosion on the gas-line linking al-Hasaka and the city of Banyas; the explosion occurred in the village of Bi’r al-Juwees.

Homs province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Houla.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the Bilal mosque in Ma’arat al-Nu`man killing 10. Rami Mendeel, a 16 year old soldier, the son of Ra’ed Mandeel, the opposition leader of the Ma’arat al-Nu`man martyrs brigade, was killed during clashes when his group attacked a military motorcade near the Ein Qri’ village, south of Ma’arat al-Nu’man city. These clashes also killed 1 other opposition fighter and 9 Syrian military troops and 3 tanks were destroyed.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Deir Sharqi. Clashes took place near the the Wadi al-Dayf military base and the Syrian military shelled villages in the area. The Syrian military’s aeriel bombardment of Kafrouma caused the deaths of 7 civilians, including a family of six, 3 were children and 1 woman.

Al-Raqqa province: More than 14 Syrian military troops were killed or wounded in a car bombing at the al-Qantari military checkpoint on the al-Raqqa-al-Hasaka road. Heavy clashes took place between Syrian military troops and the opposition in the city of al-Tabaqa city leading to the death of 1 Syrian military fighter and clashes also took place at Solouk. 18 were killed today in al-Raqqa province including 16 Syrian troops and 2 opposition fighters.

A military coordinator for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has said that not all rebel groups would comply with a proposed ceasefire during an upcoming Muslim holiday as they doubted the intentions of the government.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria said earlier on Monday that the Syrian government and some rebel leaders had agreed to a ceasefire during a four-day Muslim holiday due to begin on Friday.

But in the Turkish town of Hatay, the FSA’s Ahmad Kassem said while some rebel leaders had said they would commit to a ceasefire, others had refused because “they have previous experience with the regime.”

”They don’t trust him (Assad) and everybody will soon see that Bashar Assad will not commit to this ceasefire, period.”

International: A defected female former general of the Syrian forces has been training the Syrian opposition in Turkey. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-296278-report-defected-female-general-trains-syrian-opposition-in-turkey.html

Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

President Morsi of Egypt gave a speech to Azhar preachers on the occasion of the Eid, and called on the Syrian regime to halt the bloodshed during Eid as a first step.

The United States said on Wednesday it had not supplied Stinger missiles to Syrian rebel forces, which challenges intelligence from Moscow that the US-made surface-to-air missiles had found their way into the hands of the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to be somewhat confused about Middle Eastern geography as he repeated claims that Syria is Iran’s gateway to the sea. http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/10/24/66-Romney-repeats-Syria-is-Iran-s-route-to-the-sea-gaffe-for-sixth-time-in-row-.html
Syria: A Brief Chronology

1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.

1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.

1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.

1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)

1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.

1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.

1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.

1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).

1946. The French withdraw from Syria.

1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.

1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.

1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.

1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.

1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.

1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.

1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.

1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.

1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.

1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.

1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.

1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.

1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.

1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.

1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.

1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.

1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.

2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.

2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.

2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.

2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.

2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.

2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.

2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.

2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.

2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.

2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.

2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.

2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.

2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.

2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.

2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.

2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.

2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.

2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.

2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.

2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.

2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria from the 3rd of Oct until the end of the month. This initially caused NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.

Syria Update, October 19, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

20 Oct

Syria Update, October 19, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

The huge car bomb which killed investigator Wissam al-Hassan in Lebanon has again shaken the faith in Lebanon’s stability in the face of its deep entanglements in Syrian politics – the plot that killed Rafeq al-Hariri and the current elements which support or oppose the Syrian opposition. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-lebanon-explosion-idUSBRE89I0N620121019

Deathtoll: 138 killed, including 55 unarmed civilians.

Demonstrations took place in so many towns, cities and villages of Syria today following Friday prayers that I cannot list all of them. One of today’s slogan was: “ America, hasn’t your hatred had enough of our blood?” As just one example, a demonstration in Daraya: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsRFhJg16X8&feature=player_embedded

Aleppo province: Heavy clashes took place in al-Ramousa area. Clashes were ongoing in Sleiman al-Halabi and the Sakhour and al-Sha`ar neighborhoods were shelled.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Bab and clashes killed an opposition fighter in Khan al-Asal.

Damascus province: The Syrian military carried out raids and arrests in the Qazzaz area of Damascus. The body of a killed civilian was discovered in the Daf al-Shawk neighborhood of Damascus

The Syrian military shelled Jisreen outside Damascus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuG8ZLPJ_hU&feature=player_embedded 14 bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the shelling of Saqba. Shelling on Kafarbatna, Jisreen and Yalda killed 12 today, collapsing a building in Kafarbatna. Several rockets fell on the city of Duma. The Syrian military shelled the areas around the city of Harasta, and also shelled Beit Sehem. Clashes took place this morning in the town of Hjeira. The Syrian military also shelled other towns and villages in the eastern Ghouta. Sniper fire was reported in the Sidi Meqdad area. The Syrian military shelled al-Zabadani.

Dara`a province: Regime forces stormed the town of Busra al-Sham, firing heavily. The Syrian military shelled the towns of al-Mata’ia and Tibat al-Iz.

Deir az-Zur province: Dozens of bodies were found in the Muwazifin cemetery, some had been burned. The Syrian military has shelled the town of al-Kharita.

Hama province: A demonstration broke out near the the al-Madiq palace in a funeral procession for 3 opposition fighters.

7 opposition troops were killed in an ambush set up by the Syrian military in the village of Mas`oud.

Homs province: A sniper in the We’er neighborhood killed a civilian. The Syrian military bombarded the al-Khaldiyya neighborhood.

The Syrian military shelled Rastan and Qusair in Homs province, killing 1 today. A woman died today of her wounds in Houla. An opposition fighter was killed in clashes with the Syrian military in Jousiya. The Syrian miiltiary resumed its shelling of al-Ghento.

Idlib province: 8 were killed as the Syrian military shelled Ma’ashorin. At least 5 children were injured by undetonated cluster bomblets in Saraqeb, one had most of his hand amputated. The Syrian military shelled the villages of Deir al-Gharbi and Deir al-Sharqi in the countryside of Ma`arat al-Nu`man
In clashes in Deir al-Gharbi which continued all day, 2 military vehicles were damaged and that both sides suffered casualties. The Syrian military shelled Sarja, in Jabal al-Zawiya. Many protests were mounted in Kafrenbel and other towns and villages.

There were reports today that Syrian fighter jets were shelling some type of strange material which looked like a spider web, causing some panic amongst expatriates.

Raqqah province: Violent clashes have taken place between Syrian military and opposition forces after the latter attacked a regime checkpoint (the Ranin checkpoint) near the area of Salouk. The Syrian military shelled the towns in northern al-Raqqah and the towns of villages of Khirbet al-Rez, al-Qaysariya and al-Hweija, near the city of Tel Abyad. The villages of al-Krin and al-Qantari, which are on the Raqqah-Hasaka highway, were shelled by the Syrian miltiary

Borders: The Turkish military fired back at Syria today after Syrian mortars hit Syria.

Lebanon:
A bomb blast in Beirut killed security chief Wissam al-Hassan and seven others. Al-Hassan’s investigation linked Syria and Hezbollah to the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-lebanon-explosion-idUSBRE89I0N620121019

17 Lebanese died today when they were killed in an ambush of the Syrian army. All came from Arsal in Lebanon. The media suggested that the deceased were smugglers cooperating with the Free Syrian Army.
Hassan Nasrallah admitted that one of his fighters was killed in Syria fighting against the opposition. http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?fromval=2&cid=19&frid=21&seccatid=19&eid=324599

International: Lakhdar Brahimi continues to press for a ceasefire during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/syria-crisis-idUSL5E8LJAWE20121019

Kurdish fears are stirred up by the Turkish military presence at the borders. http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21564870-fiercely-anti-assad-stance-turkey-taking-syria-aggravating-long-running-troubles

Syria: A Brief Chronology

1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.

1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.

1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.

1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)

1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.

1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.

1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.

1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).

1946. The French withdraw from Syria.

1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.

1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.

1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.

1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.

1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.

1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.

1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.

1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.

1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.

1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.

1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.

1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.

1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.

1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.

1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.

1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.

1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.

2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.

2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.

2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.

2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.

2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.

2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.

2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.

2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.

2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.

2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.

2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.

2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.

2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.

2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.

2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.

2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.

2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.

2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.

2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.

2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.

2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria for six days from 3 Oct – 9 Oct. causing NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.